Who I am.

No one truly wants to be ignored. No one wants to feel like a nuisance. Many of us are starving for love.

Asserting my identity tires me out. Our society is ill. In my journey of personal growth, I often confront roadblocks that keep me bound and constrained. We often feel a certain stuckness in our dysfunctions, don’t we. I’m coming into a place of rest, within, where my identity is not at stake with every action. Well there is an ebb and flow to life, and perhaps I am in the flow. Next week, or next month I may once again be looking out onto a seemingly barren beach – the ebb. Indeed, when do we have enduring certitude about who we are? A lack of confidence pushes us to say things, or act in such a way as to assert our identity, our self-hood. I often direct my words to others, making commitments to actions, hoping and believing that I will pull through a live up to said commitments.

I like the Dave that is amazing and does a lot of significant things, more than the Dave that is just like anyone else (without uniqueness). It’s this discontent with my self that causes me to form unrealistic goals, goals that once attained (by magic perhaps), will make me more the sort of guy I want to be. The Dave that – got a degree/fixed your bike by next week/came and helped out with The Project every day/never missed a day at work/called you yesterday/stuck to it even though it felt like dying/ etc. It’s a crushing realization, to find out that I am less than I thought I was. I have a hunch some people who really know me, at this point will want to rush in with their affirmations and encouragements. This is because these are beautiful and loving people. But you don’t do me any favors by allowing me to ignore the poverty of my human condition. I say this recognizing that accepting rebuke is one of the hardest things to do for anyone, and I am certainly no exception.

I’ll take reality over idealism now. I’m 25. Hmmm. The idealist experiences a lot of disappointment in life. This is because he or she is constantly running into the gaps between the ideal and reality. In these gaps, is our confusion, our disappointment, our doubts, and our pain. But what is the alternative? Shall we give up all our hope and ideals so as to protect us from confusion, disappointment, doubts and pain? I want disillusionment. At times I have felt as though the very foundations of my life were swept from beneath me. Though I know that there are illusions that I depend on for my very survival – and God is compassionate to not break them too soon, or too violently – I want reality. Reality is Truth and Truth is God. Though it brings me to some fearsome places, moments of despair, my heart continually beckons me forward, compels me to wrestle with the deepest questions of who I am. Sometimes I worry for my mental health – wonder if I’m going crazy. The death of my illusions often feels like the death of my very self. Even so, my center is Christ. My foundation, is Jesus Christ.

I’m a satellite of The Christ. It’s recorded in Luke 9:23-26 that Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” I read this and tremble. It’s the Holy Spirit I guess, who keeps calling me out, beckoning me forward into the dance of life and death. Deep movements quake and slide within, while I live and burn and from the ashes I rise. A phoenix. Okay so I tend to romanticize a little. 😉

There are many little deaths along the path of becoming; becoming human. I understand the process of becoming human as becoming more like Jesus Christ. Thus the parts of me that resist and protest are simply the parts that are as yet, mine. The temptations that Jesus faced at the hands of the evil one after 40 days of fasting in the desert were temptations to assert his identity. Jesus was reticent to remind the people that he was God. He admitted to it when pressed, but he didn’t assert his identity in a violent (using the term broadly) way, using his power to do so. I want to learn to do the same.

I’m the youngest of six. Hmmm. Maybe I grew up competing for place, having to prove myself. Even in the healthiest and best of families, there are wily dysfunctions. It’s no one’s fault.

I accept that I’m just an ordinary guy. I rest in simple repentance, not the kind that begs God to make me a hero according to my fallen notions of perfection. I don’t have to do all these amazing things to get people to love me. It is ambition and a need for significance in the eyes of others- an ugly permutation of the ego, that idolizes another self. As yet, I’m usually suspicious of other people acceptance of me. I’m easily accept as true, what others believe about me. Trying to prove yourself to others at every turn is exhausting. Well, you can’t please everyone I guess.

Dave Vandergugten

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