So clearly humans don’t always get it right. Most of us could come up with a list of the offenses perpetrated against us fairly quick. We know those things have left emotional scars that still bear on who we are. Who are we? Are we the sum total of those things done to us, especially at young ages? Are we able to wipe free the slate of our childhoods? Can we possibly erase the damage left by our parents? Or is that all part of making us who we actually are? Are the things that happened to us essential to us? I am not suggesting we romanticize bad decisions for the good that may possibly come out of them. But forgiveness always walks the line of forgetting, of utilizing the bad, of cultivating perseverance.
We find a way to keep walking. The internal realities are certainly a powerful part of who we are, but not given definitive authority. What ultimately defines us is not the things done to us, but how we process those things into our identity. We are more than our environment, but we are not without one. Our finite context (geography, body type, family of origin, inherent personality, etc) informs our infinitely deep purposes.
We are left with infinite freedom within finite limitations.
It is a tension of course. One that humans will never get perfect. “Serenity to accept the things I can not change.” That’s our finite context. The things in life we did not ask for. Things today we may be able to technically change, yet seem to remain. Of course today augmentation surgeries are possible for almost any physical limitations (some might use the word “disabilities”). We can “fix” those limitations we were born with. But can we really? And do we want to, really? Not that handicaps or disabilities ultimately define us (anymore than our gifts and abilities), but they certainly illustrate our identity, at least to some degree. In other words, our limitations become metaphors of our heart’s deep purposes.
We are people who must overcome adversities. And we all have a story. We all have something we must deal with. We all have a challenge unique to our situation. Yet no matter how unique or particular there is also something deeply universal. Our “struggle” is a human problem. And problem is not the right word yet it captures the idea of deficit. Ingrained in the human story is challenge. Perhaps proof that something is broken. Why do we relate so with this universal truth?
Because somehow we are in this together. And we are not alone. Though of course we will feel at times as though we are. Our struggle, no matter what it is, ultimately reminds us of that. For struggle itself is an endeavor of the living. One could even conclude that nature must “survive” challenges. From the animal kingdom to the ecosystem it must endure terrific obstacles. Some are beautiful metaphors for our own struggles. Listen. All of creation moans!