Becoming Myself
01 October 2003

I’ve had to find some kind of healing and wholeness without the thing I most wanted, to live and function and even enjoy life without it.

We were made for relationship, for intimacy with one another. We were made for love, to give and receive.

Each person is infinitely valuable. ‘God didn't make no rubbish,’ in the words of a young black gang member. We are of worth. Others are of worth. We are all precious.

We are also all the walking wounded. We’re tempted to look at others, to compare. They look so strong, so happy,so spiritual. We think, ‘If only I had–or was–this or that, then I’d be happy.'

The thing that I most wanted in the world was to have children. I’m profoundly grateful for my marriage, but we don’t have children. I’ve had to find some kind of healing and wholeness without the thing I most wanted, to live and function and even enjoy life without it.

So who am I? What am I? I am a man, a member of that little less than half of humanity of the male sex, with all that that means. The weaker sex, who die younger, kill themselves and each other more frequently. A male sexuality, aggression, a need to assert myself, to prove myself in physical terms.

There’s a first world to explore here–our sexual identities, as men, as women. I suspect that it’s harder for men.

Secondly, though I’m not a father, I am a son and a brother. Family identity is a second field to explore.

Then I am English by birth. So I was brought up even more than most other boys not to show weaknesses or feelings (they were considered to be much the same thing). Yet I believe that inside every Englishman, there is an Italian trying to get out!

So there’s a third field of identity to explore–my national identity, the history of my tribe. For me this is now complicated by the fact that I’m also Swiss.

Fourthly there is religious identity. I was brought up as a Christian. At my secondary school, there were compulsory church services every day, and twice on Sundays. And despite all that, or because of it, I still call myself a Christian. I am now a lay-preacher in the Reformed Church.

So these are some of the building blocks of me. The mysterious soup we call identity.

Knowing yourself is important. We can be given special flashes of insight into incidents in our past that have marked us and made us what we are. But there are no recipes. Each journey is, and must be, unique. The important thing is not to get stuck too long in one place: to accept that we are travellers, moving on.

We need to accept our individuality, our ultimate aloneness–not loneliness–before God on which our identity, our becoming, our relationship with God is founded. Each one of us is welcomed as the beloved, called by his or her name. This love is given without any merit or comparison or preference.

We have a calling to live life to the full, to love life and all that it can bring. God’s first calling is to ‘be yourself’, ‘become yourself’, become the unique being you are meant to be. Only then can we take our place in the human family.

We are all pilgrims. And there is always Another travelling beside us.

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