The most mysterious person that I know……myself.
Pride will have one believe that if there is one person on earth in a lifetime that can be known, it is oneself. How is it possible that I can be the most mysterious person that I know? If I speak from a place of pride, I can stubbornly describe myself, using flattering words, with a few human flaws to give the illusion of balance. But, If I were to lay down my pride and ego and be transparently honest, I am yet, still a mystery to myself. I know the choices that I have made, choices that haunt me like a dark shadow. Choices that creep up to remind me of the real filth that corrupted by heart and corrodes my soul. The memories of those choices wail in my core like the banshee, terrorizing my midnight thoughts. Why did I make those choices? How did I change so much from my daddy’s baby girl, the precious treasure of my mother’s heart?
As a child, I was happy, and energetic. Filled with the curiosity that never seemed to be satisfied. Everything must be questioned, and question everything I did. The answers to most of my questions would delight me and grab my imagination. I could hear tales of old and see the motion picture in the theatre of my mind, down to the most minute detail, in living color! There was a sweet innocence that I can remember about myself, a pure love of life and of living things. My mom taught me about the Most High Creator, and his son the savior. She taught me to be kind to others, to always tell the truth, to obey her instructions and respect the instructions from my elders. I was taught not to take anything that did not belong to me. This lesson came after I had taken something that did not belong to me. Howbeit, as much as I adored my mother, I would go on with the practice of taking things that did not belong to me, until I was finally caught stealing from the market by my dad. I was 8 years old and a thief! I was 8 years old and a liar! Because we know, the first thing I did once caught was to lie. Now, I remember the sweet innocence about myself, but I also remember the compelling desire to take those chocolates from the market. I understood my mother would be disappointed and that if I were caught, I would be punished. Where was that pure, sweet innocence when I made the choice to place those chocolates in the basket with the items that I was sent to purchase? Once I found a spot in the produce section, next to the counter with the watermelons stacked high, sure that no one could see me, those delicious chocolates slipped silently into my pocket. I remember that crazy feeling, how my heartbeat so fast I could hear it, how my armpits began to water and drip, my head felt light, as if I were going to faint on the spot. Were these warning signs from my innocence to make another choice? How could all this happen to me physically and I continue the course of stealing those chocolates? Did I intentionally wear that jacket because it had pockets? I barely made it out of the market from being so nervous. It was as if I were suddenly naked, and everyone could see my shame. With all of that going on internally, I left that market, with those chocolates in my pocket becoming a thief at the age of 8.
Pride will aid in the justification for those actions in most of us. I understand that I am not alone in this experience. As I have lived and shared the mysterious self of me with others sharing their mysterious self, I have heard these justifications. A close family member told me that if I am not a thief now, if I learned from that mistake that stealing is wrong, then I am cleared of that transgression. It happened as a child; it is the nature of children to behave in such a way, like the fact that all children lie. She went on to reminisce of her many moments of poor choices, all with ego pleasing justifications. We found humor in this and I agreed in that moment. However, as I stated before, the midnight thoughts do not give justifications for those choices. The midnight thoughts remind you of the darkness that is really in your heart and shows you how far you have strayed away from sweet and innocent. The wail of the banshee covers your ears and suffocates your soul, like consuming flames stealing your oxygen. After spending many sleepless nights, I soon discovered the masking effects of bottled spirits and R&B music.
It would be a magical fiction if I could say, honestly the 8-year-old leap into theft was the extent of my poor choices, but that is not the case. It would also be a magical fiction to say that bottled spirits could silence the midnight thoughts. The older I became, the more treacherous my behavior became. The more masking techniques only resulted in the midnights thoughts coming in to visit in the twilight hours. My teenage years were interesting, as I threw away every opportunity of achieving success. I had all the talents, the ability and a particularly good brain to really plot out a road map of goals and tackle them to achieve positive results for my life. I decided to follow the compelling force of perverse lust and immediate gratification of the flesh instead. Why? It is a mysterious thing, because I can not say that I did not know better, because I did. I cannot say that I was a victim of circumstance because I am not a victim. What I can say that happened, as my life spiraled out of control, is that I know longer recognized the me that I had always thought I knew. There was no longer a sweet, innocence or purity anywhere in my soul. It was like I had transformed into this wild animal who instinctively lived only to survive. Primal in every choice, hunt as I am being hunted, and win at all costs. This once happy, energetic, curious child has grown into a ravenous whore, covered in the garments of a woman. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a shell of shadows, so I covered my face with makeup and glitter. There is a proverb that compares a fair woman lacking discretion to a choice pearl in the snout of a pig. And so, I emerged, fair in beauty, lacking any discernment or knowledge of myself, all the while, boasting of being a deep thinker and introspective. I was once told that I was a walking contradiction. When this statement was made to me, I remember being so confused. “What do you mean?” I asked, without a clue that I was speaking about myself in a totally different aspect as the self that I projected. I had this grandiose idea of who I was, but I was a mystery to myself. Others could see that I spoke of having a code of ethics and boundaries with morals, but I manifested something different when the heat was turned up. I did not know about myself. When it was pointed out, pride would kindly assist me in the justification of behavior that was contrary to the sign I wore around my neck. I had not spent as much time with anyone else as I had spent with myself, at almost 40 years of age and yet I did not know ME.
Pride will blind most to the fact that we know so little, even about our own hearts and intentions. There is a scripture in the bible that says,” your heart is deceitful above all things and cannot be known by you,” yet we make it a practice to declare that we are following our heart in the choices we make and how we navigate through this life. What I was really doing was following the lust and desires of my flesh and justifying those choices by blaming the heart. I have come to understand that those choices that haunt me were made by a person that I did not want to know at the time. I did not want to admit that; she is predictably irrational and capable of evil beyond imagination. I did not want to admit that the 8-year-old lying thief had grown into an indescribable monster. I am such a good person; I am so well read and intelligent. I could easily compare myself with slimy people that were so messy in their affairs, it was open for the scrutiny of their peers. Howbeit, without divine counsel and wisdom, left to my own devises without instruction, there was madness and chaos in every result from my choices. I had become very skilled at wearing the masks and hiding in the camouflage of justifications. When I decided to admit that to be accountable, without defending pride, something provocative occurred to me. I would have to kill the ego, the pride. I would have to admit that there is something wrong with allowing myself to be governed by immediate gratification. I would have to purposefully, and intentionally position myself to be accountable for my behavior every second of the day. In order to do that, I must follow the instruction to take every thought captive and measure it against divine counsel. At first, the idea was frightening. This means that I would have to slow down, that I must change, no longer could I float through life haphazardly, skipping and spinning and blowing dandelions all day. I would have to be responsible for how I interacted with the very thoughts projected into my soul. Who understands that? I sure as heck do not. How can I understand my soul, my thoughts and where they come from, I just entered this room (that is a story for another day)? Like a child in a grown person’s body, I agonized over this approach. I tried, instinctively to survive my pride, to circumvent accountability and instruction, while outwardly appearing to embrace accountability and instruction. I have painfully learned that you can not ice skate uphill, no matter how much energy you exert and no matter the tactics you put into play. I had to come to terms with the reality that my understanding is not a prerequisite to my obedience.
So, I have ceased with my temper tantrums, retired my ice skates, and surrendered to the commitment of intentional accountability. It is not important to me to live out my dreams and travel the world in a Winnebago, off grid with a canvas for open air painting. I will probably not make it to Amsterdam, to sample all the marvelous strains of marijuana with my husband. I will not have another baby, (although that is a desire that comes and goes), as my fallopian tubes have been mutilated and I will be 50 this year. What I am saying is that I have learned to be content with where I am today, and to embrace accountability. I am a woman, so by nature I will make mistakes, and be wrong about things. Pride had me convinced that I was never wrong and that being wrong somehow meant that I was less than, weak. Pride had me convinced that no matter what I did, I could somehow justify it and make it right. This was so that I would not identify pride and kill her, and by not taking accountability, I allowed pride to live at the expense of that sweet, innocent, pure child that I once knew and identified with years ago. There is a sweet innocence with accountability, a purity that is refreshing, a wisdom that is hard to grasp, but when you do, you bottle it like a captured butterfly. I picture myself now, in the garden, adorned in a sundress and hat, with my net chasing butterflies, all day. That is how I see myself navigating through this life, in the garden, no matter the weather, no matter how I may feel, committed to being intentionally accountable. I guess I like that picture, because it allows me to still be a child without shame. I do not have to respond to the desire to take what does not belong to me, or to lie. I do not have to know everything; I do not have to understand everything, every thought, or where it comes from. I no longer have a need for a title or intellectual degrees for status, to be weighed down by the rudiments of men, because like me they are children. We have all been given the same opportunity of choice, of free will. We are all mysterious, and different and unknowing. The difference is, who will we let pride govern their lives and kill the child inside? Who will, instead kill pride, embrace accountability and allow the child to live? Knowing in this life is mysterious at best, how do we know who we are, or should I say, do you really know who you are? This is all I can say, as I have dedicated moments to be introspective and try to know me. The most mysterious person that I know.