I was recently introduced to some of the works by Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest you does a lot of writing and speaking on what he refers to as the "true self" and the "false self." In a series of talks on "Healing Our Inner Violence," Fr. Rohr made that point that "how you do anything, is how you'll do everything." He went to elaborate on this, meaning that how we interact and respond to others and our own selves today, is essentially how we will do it tomorrow and the next day. That basically, the future will always stay the same if we do not allow God to change the present, meaning transform us in the now.
I have to say that hearing this was not only powerful, but profoundly personal. I wake up every day, and try to be better than the day before. I try to leave my rush to judgement, my impatience, stressfulness, and overall bad habits behind me. However, I am no sooner confronted with a situation, where I do not act out of what Fr. Rohr calls "the true self," the self that is in total commune with God and every person they meet. Instead, I quickly jump to anger. I can get easily offended when someone does not respond to me in the way I think they should. I can get irritated with the grocery checker who is taking too long to ring up people in line. I mean doesn't she know, I have things to do! Doesn't she know how valuable my time is! Or what about the person who cuts me off on my way to class or drives so flippin' slow! Don't they know, I'm stressed! Don't they know I am juggling multiple things over here! Maybe I should I tell them, that's it, I let them know how unimportant they are and how very important I am by loosing my cool. Oh my, yes, how I do anything, is how I do everything! And, this is hard to admit, but it is also an important realization. To look at yourself and embrace that you are weak, that it is your ego who is telling you that you are so important, that you have created this image of yourself to control and protect yourself, but you slowly and yet, suddenly see that this is not you and you can change the present, with the Lord's mercy and grace and by letting go.
Fr. Rohr talks about letting go as falling through your life. I found it so relatable that he says this process feels like dying. I think when we are struggling to hold on to parts of our "old" and "false self" it does feel like dying. We are so use to the way we do things, we are creatures of habit and the more we act out in a negative and false way, the more comfortable we are and it becomes automatic and we even justify it. So when we are challenged to see life differently and it strikes a resounding chord in us, it is painful, there is some suffering involved in transformation. There is an admitting that we are not perfect, life is not about us, that I cannot control everything, that I have no choice but to surrender a little more each day and trust God. I think this has been one of my problems. I often feel like I have to take on so much, either for my own vision of success or because I feel as though if I don't take care of it, who will? How will it get done? This is me putting too much importance on myself and not really any on God, or any trust in him. I think this is where I get negative, judgemental, obsessive and in Jesus' words, the opposite of faith, which is "worrying about many things."
Fr. Rohr reminds us that as it states in 1 Corinthians, "Now is the acceptable time" (2 Corinthians 6:2). It is challenging and humbling to examine how we respond to others, how we seek control in situations out of fear and the need to be important, right or justified. However, we must remember that, "for when I am weak, I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10). He will take up our yoke, his burden is light. But, this will only happen with dying to ourselves. I think this is what St. Francis of Assisi meant when he said, "Above all the graces and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved, is that of overcoming self." We don't have to wait, we can overcome ourselves now and fall into our new life. Hopefully each today we are up to this challenge.
Rohr, Richard. (2002). Healing Our Inner Violence. St. Anthony Messenger.