The idea of this kills me. Because it is so true. My goodness, how many times I have gone to the Lord with all the excuses of why I am the way I am!
While I have no clue about my sign or my co-star, I can tell you that I am Meyers Briggs ENFP and an Enneagram 4w5. I am the quintessential middle child. My love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. My temperament is Sanguine-Melancholic. My charism is hospitality.
I know all the things about me.
I know it is also possible to know all about someone—including yourself—and not actually know yourself. Socrates said that knowing yourself was the beginning of wisdom. I get that. To know oneself is the first challenge. But just like our friends, our kids, spouses, and neighbors, we change. We evolve. When I am committed to a relationship, I am committed not just to who my friend is today, but I am committed to being a faithful witness to the person they are becoming. The challenge then becomes not just to know thyself, but to keep knowing—to learn and to be always in the position of the novice.
That’s what makes a true friendship so wonderful, isn’t it? You become comfortable with someone, you settle in, they become as storge as a well-loved sweater. But then they do something perhaps unexpected or out of character and you are delighted. I love it when an established well-loved sweater friend suddenly comes out with a story about his or her childhood or college days that I have never heard. It’s a charming bit of shading on a favorite painting that you never recalled seeing before that moment.
Can I have this kind of relationship with myself? Can I know myself today and keep knowing myself tomorrow and not judge myself unduly harshly when I change?
Know and keep knowing.
To do what Rilke asks of the young poet, ”Resolve to always be beginning—to be a beginner.”
I am just beginning to know myself—rather than just knowing about myself. The knowing has come with the pain.
“I am still a novice concerning pain—that’s how small I feel in this great dark; but if you are there, be heavy and break through; have your whole hand do its work on me and I, with my cries, on you.” (Rilke, The Book of Poverty and Death)
I am concerned that I may not know myself in time. I worry that the cares of this world may distract me from the task of knowing myself and preparing myself to truly know God before it is time to meet him.
So let me begin. Let me always be beginning.