“Identity, Pretense vs. Presence” from My Own Worst Enemy by Janet Davis
SMORE Class @ Calder – July 22, 2012
“Identity, Pretense vs. Presence” in My Own Worst Enemy
What is your essence? Not what you do or skills you have acquired, but your passions, your gifts, and your desires.
Christians take a journey to self.
In childhood our parents, siblings, and friends influence us. Life experiences in school may cause us to alter our true nature. Life’s complications may further reinforce how we behave. We learn to alter and even cover-up our selves. Life is brimming with complex situations. To escape we hide behind masks, by altering our true personalities.
“Many Christian people are playing roles they didn’t audition for, on stages they didn’t design, while wearing masks they don’t know how to remove.” Florence Littauer
We become more uncomfortable in this unnatural world. Being untrue to ourselves takes energy and effort. Eventually we develop discomfort, distress, even disease. We lose our ability to be our authentic selves. When we become stressed enough to cause serious problems, we may be motivated to change paths. Then we must make the effort to take the journey back to our true self, which can be a rough road. Staying on this path requires learning how to live in the present. Years ago a dear friend gave me a book called the Precious Present by Spencer Johnson, M.D. It is a simple concept, though not an easy one.
Knowing yourself comes more easily when you live in the present. You are less troubled by thoughts and feelings that do not serve you well. You can remain calm in situations that demand your full attention and presence. You will make better decisions. You will have the confidence to face others knowing exactly what the goal is-just like the Syrophoenician woman did in Mark 7 when she confronted Jesus.
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When I was attempting to complete the work on my Master’s Degree report at the University of Texas I found myself in the position of having to gain approval for my final project, required for a M.A. I had not written anything like this before and my confidence was wavering. I had a quirky professor who was subtle about what I needed to do with it. It had been a long drawn out process. I had to do an internship with a company. I had to complete some research. I had to have my project approved. Then there was writing the report that had it own requirements. I didn’t live in Austin, so was forced to make the most of the time I had when there.
At some point along the way I realized I must make a showing of confidence in the work I had completed on “Parents’ Influence on Their Children’s Success in School.” Up until this point my professor had not given his stamp of approval. I had prepared the table of contents and had completed a few chapters. On this particular day I went in to speak him. I spoke firmly about what I intended to do. I used positive declarative statements. I spoke as a woman who knew what she was doing and intended to do it. Like the Syrophoenician woman, I “planted myself and persisted in what I knew,” as Janet Davis put it.
He did a complete about face. Not that he was Christ-like, but he responded as Jesus did to the woman and approved my request to go ahead with the project. The only thing that changed about the project was my presentation of who I was and what I was doing.
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To love others, you must first love and respect yourself. Do you know who you are? What is your essence? Be present, daily and you will come to know.