Always the North Star

north-star-1A Facebook friend noted recently that in life he senses from God nothing but pure divine love and acceptance for his very self, heart and soul – but that his ego (false or transient self) is under constant, tireless assault.

And I recognised that in my life, this is true as well.

It wasn’t always so to this degree, and I thank God it wasn’t. How many of us as young people could have withstood it? Youth is generally a time of building up. And happily so. We toil for and taste the successes that we have built on our own, seemingly. We think that we are getting our acts together and that we are performing in life well.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have parted with the shell of my 20-something self if I had been given a choice.

But no one is given that choice.

The beautiful reason behind this is that life, past a certain point, is about the tearing down of our egos and false selves because they are not us at all. I liked my shiny, young, strong, bulletproof self! – but that self began to die the moment I became a mother and saw that I could care for another more than for myself. That transient self and all that followed no more defined me than will someday my wrinkles and white hair.

And really, what better way to accomplish the revealing of our True Selves than via the aging process when everything that is not eternal and not of God is slowly stripped away to reveal what is?

It’s amazing when you think about it. Aging makes no sense humanly speaking. My human tendency is to want to become more than I am, not less than I have been.

But our human eyes miss so much that is of true importance. If we are open to the lessons being taught to us, we become less arrogant, supercilious, contemptuous, know-it-all, smug and swaggering. Our footsteps may slow, our once proudly held heads may begin to bow a little.

But in all of these cases, less really is so much more! What has grown within us — our ability to love unconditionally, to accept others without evaluation, comparison and judgement, and to deeply trust that all is well with us despite our circumstances — is invisible to the human eye.

God is not interested in our projections of ourselves — or in all the ways we believe we measure up and qualify. He is not interested in what we get “right” theologically.

He is interested in what lies deep beneath that – in the part of every one of us that is indescribably precious to him, and that also has the capacity to grow. Our souls. Our True Selves.

I believe that soul growth is our reason for living this often difficult life.

And, seemingly at least, unfortunately for us, this kind of soul growth only occurs with the help of loss and pain. We learn much more from our failures than from our successes.

“Our ongoing curiosity about our True Self seems to lessen if we settle into any ‘successful role.’  We have then allowed others to define us from the outside, although we do not realize it. Or perhaps we dress ourselves up on the outside and never get back inside…” ~ Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond.

Is it any surprise that no one settles into a “successful role” permanently? Falling down makes us more loving, and tolerant and understanding of others when they do the same.

All of this can feel painful and it is painful. But while pain can be the direct result of cause and effect, it isn’t always. Sometimes there is no explanation and nothing we have done to cause it. Loss only feels frightening when we cling tightly to the impermanent things that are fading, rather than lovingly, mindfully letting go. And trusting that though certain things fade from our sight, they are not gone forever. I am often encouraged by the scene in C.S. Lewis’s famous book and conclusion to his Narnia Chronicles, The Last Battle, where Prince Caspian dies, is raised, and becomes young again.

And it is not all bad even in this life.

One study showed that the age at which people report the most contentment is 56. Another that happiness peaks twice in a lifetime: at age 23 and again at age 69.

Perhaps this is true for those who have wisely learned to let go, and to trust the waves of life to take them where they will, because even if they end up shipwrecked, He is always with them.

Perhaps this is true for those who have seen that throughout the tempests of life, there is always the North Star shining just over the horizon.

~ by Jeannine Buntrock

Note: Much of what I write these days is inspired by my continued reading of author and Franciscan, Richard Rohr. I am reading Immortal Diamond at the moment – highly recommended!

2 comments so far

  1. John on

    Thank Jeannine
    Really appreciate this write! Also found similar thought by Brad Jersak on video, the 2016 annual Word of Grace conference, session 9, YouTube. The whole conference was great, which also included Baxter Kruger, but this specifically spoke to what you wrote about.

    • iamjean9 on

      Thank you, John! It may very well have been Brad who made the original comment I referenced above. It was all so deeply buried in Facebook, I couldn’t begin to find it, but I have never forgotten it. He’s absolutely wonderful, and I have learned a great deal from him.

      Thank you for letting me know about those videos on You Tube – I’m going to look for them now! ~ Jeannine

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