Knowing Ourselves

We had one of our best friends come and stay with us a couple of weeks ago. It was the best. We had deep conversations over coffee about things that are important to us; the directions that our lives are headed in, the growth that is currently happening, as well as laughter in every space we dwelt in.

One morning her and I sat down at our kitchen table with a deck of values cards and she began to sift through them, discarding the words that she placed little to no value on, and creating little piles with the words that caught her attention and spoke to her soul. Words like loyalty, humor, and communication. These are words that are profoundly true about who she is, what she is fights for, and about the decisions and choices that she makes. Her values inform where she is going, they help to create direction and purpose within her life.

The funny thing is, most of us don’t really know what is important to us, what we value, and where we are headed based on those answers. We just sort of allow life to happen to us. Two years ago I attended a number of training sessions for a leadership model that my husband and I were asked to learn, live out and impart to a group of young adults on the mission field. I was asked the very question that Jacie pondered at my kitchen table. What are my core values? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Oh, I spit out some words that I believed were true to who I was. But they barely scratched the surface. Words like, health and wellness, work ethic, problem solving, and control. Things that are important to me on a superficial level, but don’t really define the spaces I live out of.

I have wrestled with this question ever since the initial exercise. Asking myself Why? over and over again, and every time coming to a deeper place of self awareness. Why is health and wellness important to me? Why do I feel the need to be in control? The answer to these things brings me to a place of knowing myself more deeply, of understanding why I do the things I do, and why I make certain choices. The value that lies at the core of the above questions is safety. And the discovery of this deeper value has allowed me to have a greater understanding of myself. It has given me freedom; the freedom to let go, and freedom to decide where my value for safety will direct me. You see, our values should never control us, but should instead inform us.

Below is a passage from Lewis Carrols, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

” Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal where you want to get to.” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where – “ said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go” said the Cat.

Self-awareness is something we are all able to walk in, but it takes time and it takes work. Two years ago I never would have imagined that the question,” What do you value?” would take me on the journey that it has. I have wrestled and processed, and dug deep into the truths about who God says that I am. I have memorized scriptures; I have grieved and celebrated my story thus far, and have pondered the woman that I want to be moving forward. I don’t understand it all, but I do know that the better we know ourselves, the better we are able to lead ourselves. I think that Alice didn’t care where she was going because she didn’t really know what was important to her to begin with.