I used to be a church pastor. I was for a very long time during my most youthful and productive years. No longer a pastor and no longer tied into the story so tightly as I was of the literal truth of the Bible, I still find that "pastor" is still lingering as part of how I define and identify myself.
Actually, I find that "I used to be a pastor" is the phrase that still pops up when talking in the present, so I must still identify with the experience for sure. Recently someone told me I was still stuck in my past job description as part of my present identity, and I had to agree. It is less and less each year, but nevertheless, she was right. It's easy to get stuck in who or what one used to be and let it color the present. When it comes right down to it, it matters little what one used to be or do and is not a valid way to define one's present.
We all change. Life both provides for and forces change whether we like it or not and it is acceptance of that reality that is more in keeping with a genuine self identity.But whether as pastor, or a policeman, or an accountant, mom, friend or parent, what we used to be is not who we are.
It might have been what we did, or a role that we had in life, but it never was who we are. Try this.without saying anything good or bad about yourself, who are you? Most will slip and say what they do for a living, or some educational credentials or even something negative about how they perceive themselves to be, but that breaks the rules. The implication of that kind of answer is that when one ceases to be the doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief, once ceases to be, which is ridiculous.
Ultimately, the only answer there is turns out to be "myself". I am who I am. You know, the Popeye Mantra.I don't like change, but on this planet, life is nothing but change it seems. We make kids promise at their wedding, upon pain of eternal death and damnation, never to change from this moment forward, yet forget to tell them that outside of them, everything and everyone else will change! Seems a bit unfair to me.
Life is entrances and exits, careers chosen and lost, ideas that work and then don't, people who show up and then disappear. Life is change. There is a lot to say for endeavoring to keep things stable, it is just that we often learn that if we want to stay balanced and sane, we often have to give up the idea of being masters of the universe.So how can we stop indentifying with who or what we thought ourselve to be, and bring our personal identity more into the present. The most profoundly right answers to this question are often the most simple to state.1.
Live in the present because NOW is all one really has. The past and future are all states of mind that are neither real nor productive places to rummage around in. The past is the source of our anger and if repressed, our depression and the unknowable future is the source of our anxiety, trying to figure out how things will be, when we can't know. Just stop it. NOW is all we have and every past moment was a NOW we had back then and we remember and every future event is a NOW not yet here. But when it "get's here," it will be another NOW.
2. You are not defined by what you do or who you think you are. When you no longer are or do that, you are still here. You are YOU.
The sum total of genetics you had no say in, personality you are hard wired with, and circumstances that you may or may not have some control over. Life is choices. Make the ones you can. Accept with a "nothing is for nothing" attitude those you can't and drink cool water.
Just do it.3. Recognize that true human spirituality and happiness is an inside job. It all comes from within you. True spirituality doesn't need you to be anywhere to support some group endeavor and have your sincerity judged by your attendance. True spirituality doesn't motivate you with fear, guilt, shame and fear.
And true spirituality certainly doesn't require ten percent of your income for "God" so he can bless you more than you can possibly imagine, with more stuff.I guess that's all I have to say about that.
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By: Dennis Diehl