Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Self Reliance

Lenten Reflection #28

Back in the 8th grade, our oldest son had an assignment to read Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. We read and re-read, questioned, lost our way, circled back and finally landed like a bird on suet – dizzy from the flight, but well-nourished.

As I re-read Self-Reliance, I thought of the teenagers today. Home, at school, barely passing, ready to graduate, all just hoping to make it to May. Emerson’s words encourage a quest to find our best selves even when we feel like we are we are all flitting around like fire flies in a mason jar furiously bumping into walls, hoping our light still shines when we are released.

He says:

Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”

Most teenagers are in a mad dash to figure out who they are, where they are going and who they should become. Their vernacular is peppered with words like non-binary and dismorphia, and phrases like “how I present” or “gender fluid”. The grammar behind pronouns is revisited, questioned and celebrated…”he/him, she/her, they/them”.

Emerson goes on to say,

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Some days we are as misunderstood as a fitted sheet. Corners never fitting well because the sheet is horizontal when needing to be vertical and no matter how hard we tug and pull, it just doesn’t fit.

Isn’t being completely understood overrated? We scour our souls every day for the best version of ourselves and as long as we remain self-reliant, and strong, I’ll bet we’ll get there.

On Faith and Fitness:

Please plank for 30 seconds. It’s hard, but so worth it. Say a good prayer during the hold and then repeat 5 times.

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