Thursday, May 10, 2007

The True Way to Find Yourself

Recently, I was speaking with a dear friend of mine who shared with me the troubling news that her sister’s husband had decided to leave the marriage. The reason, he told his wife, was that he needed “to find himself.” I told my friend, quite bluntly, that his excuse was baloney (I believe I may have used another word, but for the sake of you, my readers, I will stick with “baloney” so as not scandalize anyone!).

You’ve probably heard that excuse before: someone is having personal difficulties, and they believe the way to solve those difficulties is by walking away from their commitments, even if it means abandoning their spouse or children or ministry. They believe that by running away they will somehow magically discover who they really are. Often times, this choice to run away to find oneself is not about finding oneself at all; it’s about running away from responsibility or from the hard work that life sometimes entails.

The Church, on the contrary, proposes the true way to find oneself: “Man…cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et Spes, 24). These beautiful words from the Second Vatican Council shed the light of truth upon the problem of self-centered living. The only way that I can truly find myself is by giving myself away in love. We were not created to live a self-centered life; God created us so that we could give our lives away as a gift. Life is a gift that is meant to be given in love. Whatever our vocation—married love or celibate love—we are called to imitate Christ by living selflessly.

That troubled man, believing he would find himself by leaving his wife and children, is deceived. How, then, could he have found himself? By choosing to love his wife and children more, regardless of what he was feeling; by recommitting himself to being the best husband and the best father that he could possibly be. We don’t find ourselves by running away from our vocation; we find ourselves precisely by living our vocation heroically, especially when times are hard. The only way to love when we don’t feel like loving is to love! We choose it; we don’t wait for the feeling.

We live in a very selfish world. Many people are deceived, believing that if they live for themselves alone they will be happy. The truth is that selfishness breeds sorrow. Only by imitating Christ and living selflessly can we be truly happy.

In the same document from the Second Vatican Council, we read that “Christ…fully reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). Jesus Christ reveals who we as human beings are called to be. By contemplating the life of Christ and by imitating his virtues, then and only then will we find ourselves.

So, if you are struggling with sadness in your life, if you are finding it hard to love those closest to you or just to love in general, if you keep retreating within yourself only to find more isolation, then make a choice to live selflessly; make a choice to serve. Contemplate our Crucified Savior and make a decision to live for him, not for yourself. I assure you, in doing this you will find peace and happiness; and, most certainly, you will discover who God created you to be.


Blogger Matthew W.L. Robenhymer said...

you can say B.S. insted

May 11, 2007 at 7:51 PM  

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