Lord that I may Know You and Know Myself; A Birthday Request. Vol.2, No. 4

Heavenly Father, as I celebrate my birthday today, and draw closer to my death day, which is known to you alone, my fundamental vocation just like everyone is to be myself. More often than not I hear people say, I want to be myself. This is nice because I have the vocation to be myself before I can be anything else in life. Moreover, it is in the attempt to be myself that I come to realize, appreciate and accept my strengths and my weaknesses. May this self-acceptance enable me to work on myself since self transformation is always preceded by self acceptance, and reality they say, must be embraced before it can be changed.

More still, I have been taught that self acceptance and its subsequent effect, which is self transformation, are necessary steps towards appropriating my desired self. My desired self, which is unfailingly accompanied by my coordinated virtues, human potentialities and unprecedented ingenuities, creates an enabling environment for me to actualize my goal in life as well as my ultimate end that is eternal happiness.

Dearest Lord! Do not forget in haste that my primordial task, without which other efforts are built on a false foundation, is to “be myself”. However, I can never completely know myself if I am not striving to know You. John Calvin in his Institutes of Christian Religion tells me that there is no deep knowledge of You without a deep knowledge of self and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of You. Thomas a Kempis, in the Imitation of Christ also reminds me that a humble knowledge of myself is a surer way to you Lord, than the search for depth in learning. Even before these men, St. Augustine prayed: “Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know Thee.”

Eternal Father, I make this humble plea because real Christian identity involves the transformation of the self that occurs only when God and self are both deeply known. Very often, I focus mainly on knowing You (God) and ignore knowing myself. But focusing on you, God while failing to know myself deeply, may produce an external form of piety that always leave a gap between appearance and reality. And this will be dangerous to my integrity and spirituality.

Omniscient God, on the other side of the spectrum, not all self knowledge transforms. Some merely puffs up like an overfilled balloon. Self-knowledge that is pursued apart from knowing my identity in relationship to you, easily leads to self-inflation, it also leads to self-preoccupation. Unless I spend as much time looking at you God as I spend looking at myself, my knowing of myself will simply draw me further and further into an abyss of self-fixation. Merciful savior, do not allow me to be stuffed with knowledge about you that does nothing to help me genuinely know either you or myself. That is to say, I do not desire information about you that is not transformational. Rather, assist me to know and experience your love, not simply as theory but in practice elicited by divine encounter.

Almighty God, I make this passionate plea on my birthday because you are the only context in which my being makes sense. Similarly, if I am afraid to look deeply at myself, I will equally be afraid to look deeply at you God. And consequentially, ideas about you (God) will provide a negative substitute for direct experience of You. Meanwhile, it is only the interconnectedness between knowing you, God and knowing myself that can allow the faith that I received at infant baptism to deepen into an intimate knowing. Above all, let not my actual relationship with you, God, become remarkably superficial and the inner satisfaction; inaccessible. Through Christ our Lord!

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