“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” – Elkhart Tolle
How many times have you referred to someone or something as “being deep”? Deep like in they had profound knowledge of a particular subject matter or they simply had a dynamic way of articulating a very complex thought or idea that caused you to ponder for a while. Whether the information was communicated via email, book, one on one or through an official presentation, this “deep” individual had an irrefutable way of causing us to think more abstractly, feel more passionately and ultimately progress through life more conscientiously, regardless of the topic.
I will forever be grateful for the many wonderfully deep people who have crossed my path along my life journey. Often times they were unaware of the great impact that they had on me. They could not have known what I was facing during the time, which often made it that much more profound and rich. Over the years I have come to understand that being deep is not simply about one thing, like it being a goal or talent, but it is very much about one’s personal journey intertwined with their own experiences and unique ability to truly see themselves in the midst of their struggles, loss, and pain.
It is through the suffering that one can begin to finally see who they truly are, because it is during these times when we are forced to reckon with are own issues and personal choices versus seeking to blame others for what has occurred in our lives. It is a time when the layers of excuses begin to fall to the wayside and we are compelled to sit still and ponder who we really are. It never feels good and it is always hard, but this is what doing the work looks like when our season of growth lies before us.
I liken it to scuba diving versus snorkeling. Although both acts are fun, they each carry their own set of risks, therefore require specific training. Snorkeling is obviously less risky so the training is fairly basic. You can pretty much get away with just knowing how to swim, but scuba diving is much more complex.
As I compare the two, I first consider snorkeling. As I snorkel, I am on top of the ocean. I can see the vastness below to a certain point, but I still remain far from its true depth and inexplicable beauty. Even what I hear remains connected to what is on the surface that surrounds me, whether it is tied to that experience or not, which could be simply defined as noise in some cases.
With scuba diving I am going into the depths of the ocean. The deeper I go, the further I am away from the noise on the surface. Even the crashing of the waves begin to have a different impact on my body. I have to pay to special attention to my breathing and the new environment I have entered. The sound changes. I begin to hear new tones as I go deeper and I find myself connected to the vastness in a much more personal and profound way.
I believe the same is true for those that choose to go into the deep of their lives. As we make the decision to do the work we equally make a decision to authentically confront the many hardships that inevitably come along with that choice, however as we journey inward and onward we can become like that scuba diver. For a season our lives are subject to all that lies on the surface of our experiences. We hear the noises and are subject to them, but as we go deeper the noise subsides and a peace surrounds us that is equally inexplicable as it is soothing. It is no longer about just about the circumstance, but we begin to ask ourselves the hard questions, like “the whys” and “the what am I going to do now”, and although blaming others may have been a gratifying part of our formula in the past, going into the depths requires ownership and taking responsibility.
Of course we realize that the entire issue is not on us, but this journey of deep is only about us. We cannot change others, only ourselves, so the less time we spend considering what people did to us and the more time we spend on developing ourselves, the richer our journey will become.
For many years I was that guy. I blamed others and seldomly took responsibility for the reasons and outcomes of my circumstances. From multiple marriages to my own broken son-father issues, I had a legitimate and intelligent excuse for most things, but this attitude prevented me from doing the hard work. To put it plainly, I was a mess, but once I begin to see the patterns and recognize what my responsibility was in the choices I made, it became clearer where a significant part of the problem lied. Within myself.
Unfortunately some will never be able to see past their circumstances. They will consistently find fault with the ones in their immediate surroundings and past, and although there are essential steps for reconciliation, this step is not required for individual healing and growth. So when we find ourselves waiting for an apology or an admission of guilt that may never come from the ones that hurt us, we subject ourselves to becoming an indefinite victim without any action.
I think it would be safe to say that after being hurt or disappointed in any way, we all would like to write a new story in this chapter of our lives. Well I am sorry to say that there is nothing magical or mystical about how this happens. And even though prayer to our God is essential, it alone still will not replace the hard fact that we as individuals must confront the ugly truths about ourselves, families and choices we have made. We MUST go into the deep and discover who we are. We must reconcile with our God, ourselves and then the many others around us.
Until you and I make that choice, we will remain on the surface (like the snorkelers) of our circumstances. Everyone and anything will be our problem until we go into the deep. This is where our peace lives, where we discover ourselves and find out what we are truly made of.