A long time ago I was a little girl in the back of a beloved neighbor’s car, driving home from church. Sweet, sympathetic neighbor- who I now realize was more truly kindred than I ever comprehended in my youth, listening to the overflow of my turbulent heart. She offered me these wise words of advice:
To Thine Own Self Be True
“Becca, to thine own self be true…” I still remember the feel of the car seats, the saltines generously filled with peanut butter offered to slake the after church hunger, the inward turmoil roiling again and again in my soul.Such advice offered as I wrestled with many emotions and relationships all around me. Those hard junior high years! Better words for me couldn’t have been spoken… as down through all these many years, I still struggle.
I struggle with really knowing ‘my own self’ …how can I be true to what I cannot define?
I struggle with being true. It is easy for me to open wide all the doors of my heart when I should be hunkering down and pulling back.
And…I struggle with defining the borders of my own path through this life.
And yet, in the midst of this struggle…down all the years so far- I have learned:
The Lord defines my borders.
I am found in Him. I need this deeply. I need to rest in His beauty.
The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.
6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. Psalm 16:5,6
Lately, I have also been seriously reflecting about how I don’t want to ride on anyone’s bandwagon. I have been on way too many. The driver jumps off and I am still riding. Usually, that driver is loudly waving for me to join them on their new ride.
I want to be true. True to the deep down depths. True to my God and true to this authentic life He has given me.
And I want the story of my life and the ideals of my heart to sing true. Ideals and missions are beautiful things. They are gifts cupped from God. They are not God. Everything in its proper place.
I can’t deny the hurt I feel when people disappoint. The words written or spoken utterly belied by action or lifestyle. The utter disregard for the people embraced under the care and ministry of the mission who are now forsaken. It is a tremendous reminder that we must always be going lower. Never higher. Never lifted up. Jesus, lifted up.
Side note: I heard a tremendous podcast featuring Ann Voskamp that unveils this truth so beautifully: about how we are to always be going lower in such a clear, beautiful way. Find it here.
No more riding for me.
Again, again this phrase rises.
From Hamlet. Spoken by Polonious. Act 1, Scene 3
…This above all- to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
It is an interesting study to read varying commentary on this excerpt from Hamlet. So often with literature and poetry, my heart and mind make intuitive leaps that I can find hard to define. How to bring forth this inner knowing? This sense of something more? Yet, I know, know that leap… is there… and it is the unveiling of the meaning and connection that forms the great insight, the beam of radiant light. In a gentle way, I read and read again. And over time, the layers reveal.
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Rock solid, to the toes, integrity. This is what my heart longs for, this is what I need.
Sit in quiet, find this self- united with the Lord- , and align myself to be true.
The message must be true to what is authentic within. The words, the song, the lilting praise, the cry.
It is an interesting study to ponder that we have individual callings from the Lord. A message. A journey. The fulfillment of our own individual callings…yes, this comes from You, Lord.
29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 ESV
It comes from You. You who define what that is, how it fleshes out, what it looks like in the daily every day.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ESV
Finding myself, walking through this path of life, comes from being true. True to You. True to me. True to the precious ones I gather under my wings. And heart- take heed- true, true to Your Word which I cannot handle rightly without You. This I know.
And -this is where it gets so hard for me- sometimes…true to my own finite, human limitations. Not trying to be something I’m not…And not sinking down in the despair over many failings. Over who I am not.
I can only stretch so thin. The ones under this roof, born from under this heart, these dear ones are my first mission. And it is an always turning and turning again. My heart to theirs. Help me turn, Lord.
When I am offered kindly advice… advice that doesn’t fit. Advice that comes from a different place than the seat of my heart, I have to be brave. I have to be bold. I have to be relentless in my pursuit of my personal call and the ministry to the lives entrusted to my care. I have learned ( and continue to learn) to be humble and small. I have learned to listen and take heed. I have also learned to set my face like steel and walk on. Walk on.
As I face so many different settings, expectations, and cultures in this season of life
from deep within my heart…I am remembering:
To Thine Own Self Be True.
This Self is oriented toward God and when I am True, there can be no regret.