When I’m down on myself—not fully appreciating who I am at this time in life—it’s usually because I’ve forgotten who I have been. Trying to claw my way out of the generalized anxiety that characterizes our society, I’m sometimes not able to rekindle my best self—a fully-functioning creature of God’s own hand.
Some of that occurs because I am not fully connected to what God has accomplished through me in the past. This allows current events to knock me around, cutting me down to a size that’s way beyond necessary humility. At those moments, “I am a worm and no man” unnecessarily fits my older adult self-image.
A couple of days ago, I was looking through this blog site’s archives, trying to make sure I wasn’t repeating myself in an upcoming entry. As I rummaged around, I came on my earlier writing self, a window into my present-tense self. I realized again that I am facile with words. I pay attention to God’s word and the world God loves. I remain a spiritual being at my core and I’m still a curious fellow! Good attributes that are true, now and perhaps into the future.
This experience called to mind that others who are older might also live inside a shrinking view of themselves. That possibility led me to ask, “So what can I/we do about it?”
Almost immediately I realized that helpful artifacts of my past are all around me. Each of them is evidence of who I have been at one time in life. Each harbors a story waiting to be remembered. As I explore any of those items, my memories can re-fire and my self-concept can edge up a notch.
Where are these artifacts? In mystery boxes in our basement and attic. In nooks and crannies that function as mini-museums. Closets hold items too precious for rummage sales. Photo albums and published works fill up shelf space. Old income tax records, journals, bulletin boards, Christmas cards, thumb drives, the top of this desk in front of me—all are locations where bits and pieces of my life story are waiting to remind me who I was at my core. And therefore, who I might still be.
These memory-starters remind me where God has led me in life, and they assure me about God’s possible leading into the future. The artifact-digging has re-energized my attitudes about right now. About my continued usefulness for God’s purposes.
I know that eventually someone else will have to deal with the collection of memory-recall items that we call our home. At some future moment, these artifacts will no longer hold as much value as they could right now. Absent a sturdy purpose, they will likely get discarded.
That’s why it makes sense right now to poke around in all the places where my history is staring me in the face—so that I’m not tempted to think of myself as someone devoid of capabilities, worth or purpose.
And you? How’s your self-concept in these times? How’s your anxiety level? How might you remember who you are at your core? In what direction is the arc of your life bending? How could some of the stuff around you help with those questions?
Let me invite you to find the places where your history is waiting to talk to you again, so that you can thank God for having brought the now-remembered you to this point in life.
Your God-given best self is waiting for what’s ahead….
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