Our True Selves

Strange the things one discovers about himself, unsuspecting. For years, I've believed I delivered a rather authentic, if not bemusing, British accent. I've considered it one of my subtle skills. It's not something you'd know about me. A fellow doesn't go around broadcasting such a thing unless he's a crass braggart. On random but not irregular occasions, I'll toss, mid-conversation, my best old English chap voice. I've been buoyed by the fact that it always provokes laughter from my two boys, leaving them begging for more. This corroboration has been perhaps misguided. I shouldn't be surprised, given that their comedic palette hasn't exactly come of age. They still howl over anything from a knock-knock joke to any use (any use whatsoever) of any word (or sound) connoting a bodily function. Yet these were the two I relied upon to validate my impersonating talents.

This weekend, Miska and I were chatting and laughing, and I thought it a good time to up the ante by kicking in my British accent. I landed the line and waited for the laughter to follow. There was no laughter. Instead, Miska, with an expression somewhere between bewildered and pained, asked, "What was that?"

"It's my British accent." I answered, flustered. "Of all my accents, it's one of my better ones."

"Winn," said Miska (and her tone would have been no different if she were informing me that in fact, no, I couldn't fly to the moon), "you can't do a British accent."

I protested that I've provided a good British impersonation for years, but she only shook her head no. "Winn, the only time you've gotten that right is when you've attempted an accent from another country – and it comes out sounding British instead."

Painful. But it's good to know these things. In St. John's gospel, we happen upon another good but painful moment. John offers a beautiful line, narrating how many people heard Jesus and were caught up with Jesus' message and life – and how they "entrusted their life to Jesus." However, in one of the more jarring moments in the Bible, John tells us that Jesus did not reciprocate. Jesus did not entrust himself to them because he knew them. Jesus knew their deep heart, the place deeper than what one can know by what we see or hear.

Some read this text as a reference to Jesus' eternal acceptance or rejection of these would-be followers — in other words, they read this as a question of ultimate destiny. I don't hear it that way. I think Jesus simply knew that there are people who can be trusted and people who can't, at least not yet. Many people think they know themselves, but they've barely begun that journey. It's best not to hand your heart over to one who hasn't yet learned how to handle their own.

What Jesus did (with remarkable mercy) do was give his full self for those he was unable to trust, all in hopes of making us to be the very ones in whom he would eventually entrust his entire life, Spirit and love. But first came the rejection, the cross, the truth of how much within us needed to be made whole, made trustworthy. We must discover the truth about ourselves; and then we can be loved into ourselves, our true selves.

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