34. To Be Who You Are

The year I was ten years old was a year of awakening and child-size revelations. I started to look at the world around me for the first time, and notice things beyond the end of my own nose.

It was summer and the warm lazy days flowed along like an easy river, and carried me with them. Sometimes when I was by myself I would climb up in the little pear tree and and sit, hidden in the branches, and wonder about things like life, and God. I’d be wondering what God was, but then I’d notice a perfect green pear I could pick, so I did. And I ate the pear and it was warm from the sun, and crunchy and sour and sweet at the same time, and the juice ran down my chin and I forgot all about God.

I just knew that He was around and always watching out for me, like Granny said, and keeping me safe. Even if I woke up in the middle of the night in the dark, He would be there and I could just go back to sleep.

Summer evenings when I went to bed it wasn’t even dark yet. I looked out my window at the lavender-colored sky above the rooftops, and I understood that God was kind of like the sky, just always there, so big that it fills everything and goes on out there forever and ever. I  knew God was taking care of everybody and yet He still had time to notice me falling asleep.

God was this somebody or something that was bigger than the sky, that saw me and knew me and loved me, and He thought I was okay. I tried to be good, even though it meant sometimes I had to do what I didn’t want to, or act like somebody different than I really was. And I came to wish with all my young heart that I could be the same person on the outside as I was on the inside, just be me, the way God saw me, and that could be okay with everybody else. But I knew I didn’t dare. I never imagined that 50 years later I would still be trying to do that.

The simplest truth at bottom of all truths is that we all just want to be who we really are. But as children and as adults, it’s hard to even know for sure what that is, because most of our world is always expecting us to be everything else.

We all got taught a system of well-meaning lies (like You’re not good enough unless… You don’t deserve that… You can’t do that because… You shouldn’t want that because…) and these rules were meant to protect us from some problems our parents or other grownups had experienced in their lives.

But their lives are not our lives. We believed them though, because we were little kids. We didn’t know any better. Then when we grew up, we kept on limiting our own lives, for years or even for a lifetime, by believing those rules. Some of them were never true in the first place.

What was true for our parents or anybody else “out there” may not be true for us, so the soul-work for each of us has got to be the unlearning of our untruths, and the re-learning of what is true for us now, which maybe always was. When you know the truth, it really can make you free.

If we don’t unlearn, we don’t grow into becoming all we are meant to be. If we hide our own light, we can’t live an authentic life, which is the one thing every living soul sincerely longs for.

No matter what anybody else told you then, or tells you now, you do have the right to be who you honestly are, and that real-you is actually much more wonderful than you think. If you want to know who you really are, don’t ask anybody else, Don’t look “out there” or even in the mirror. To be who you are, look inside, and believe what you see.

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