True Self

I’m a fan of Richard Rohr. He’s got some great material out there, and one of his frequently visited concepts in writing and interviews is about the true self. Today in church, Nigel spoke about how Jesus’ charge in Luke 21:19 was to stand firm in order to win your “true self” though that’s often translated as life or soul. My head made a jump to a Superchic[k] song that says, “Everybody dies but not everyone lives.”

I’ve lived. I’ve lived an incredible life, and I’m still living it. This week included some really important intentional connections with other people where I got to talk about the fullness of life. I had a couple skype calls with special alumni and a Kiwi, one former student even came to visit in Kandern (Nathan, no matter what you say, you are wonderful), two of the students I mentor had deep chats with me during our brief meetings, a coworker sat down to talk to me about how we want to encourage each other and make this school a better place and we got to pray together, Tanya took an hour out of her Tuesday to just affirm me in my struggles, and I went out to brunch with Jo yesterday.

It’s cold and dark in Kandern, so I’m all the more grateful for the treadmill that lets me keep my legs moving in a safe, dry environment (also I’m sure I’m grateful for the metaphorical warmth of friendship and all that too). I’ve been back in Kandern for several months, and it’s been a struggle the past two to keep up with my school responsibilities and fully take care of my body as it gets colder and my muscles spasm more. That’s why I’m celebrating the treadmill keeping me active. It’s keeping me steady, though I wouldn’t say I’ve seen any improvements in the past two months, just maintaining.

Jo, however, hadn’t seen me in fourteen months, and he commented immediately on the drastic change since he’d last seen me the week before I moved to New Zealand. “You’re like a different person with this ability level!” I grinned at the compliment because it’s nice to remember that I am still on that upwards trajectory despite the slowness of my walking at the start of this long, dark winter.

On the drive home we chatted about how sometimes people get caught up on what we’ve lost by having a spinal cord injury. Sure I have lots of limitations and inconveniences, but I’ve learned so much more about my true self because I stood firm. There was at one point an option to lay down and die, but that’s just not who I was raised to be. Everyday I get myself out of bed because I want to live. I love my life – I love my job. I love that I’m blessed to teach students about theology and then when a kid comes back to have tea in my kitchen two years after graduating, he tells me he remembers nothing of my detailed lesson on the orthodox understandings of the Trinity, but he does remember that I made Leviticus exciting. I consider that a success.

That’s who I really am. I really love Leviticus. Guys, that book is fascinating. But also, more than the fancy pants words of neo-modalism or Athanasian orthodox creeds, I want people to get excited about the living and active Word of God that can transform lives. It transforms my life, and it transforms the life of one of my other precious students who skyped me Thursday to talk about how he saw justice stand out in Isaiah and how it made him want to live more justly in his daily life.

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