“Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery of who you really are” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel).
All of us want to be more than we fear we are. We see ourselves as competent maybe, admired hopefully, but underneath there is the nagging suspicion that we are simply insignificant nobodies whose lives matter to none but a very few.
It is so easy for me to set up my perception of myself—my anxious, fretful, loathsome, small-minded perception—as the all-encompassing truth, to make it so large that all the compliments in the world are dwarfed into nothingness beside it. But what is the truth? Can I accept the love of others and believe in my heart that God loves me with pure and constant grace?
Twice this week I’ve heard people wonder—we know that God loves the poor, calls them “blessed,” so does that mean the opposite is also true? That he does not love the rich? What then are we, as members of the richest part of the world, to do? Harder than the eye of a needle for us to figure it out, but I don’t think God’s love for the poor necessitates disdain of the rich. It all has to do with perception.
Whether rich or poor, we all of us want to believe that at our core there is mystery beyond our wildest imaginings, that we are of great significance and the world would simply not be the same without us. And where God comes is to the ones in whom that craving for mystery is strongest, to those who most know how completely beyond their own minds it is to even imagine a better way to be, to the ones who yearn with all their heart to get to something true and deep. No matter what our economic status, no matter whether we are crippled by self-perceptions or preoccupied with maintaining them, all of us in the end must search beyond the things that make us shallow and keep us starved and listen for the longings within us that whisper over and over like a song: You matter. More than it is in you to think, you matter, yes, you do!