So much of being lost today for many seems to be the feeling and the idea of not having the psychological resources or maturity to be good enough, to be functional enough for others. Personality today is performance it seems, and if we don’t have the personality to perform, to demonstrate our worthiness for success, attention, and intimacy then life can be experienced as lonely indeed. How many of us feel that we are, to some extent, in this place of lost-ness?
I sense that The Clash are singing and playing from this lost-ness. I think they are ironically wishing that personality be a commodity, just another thing to buy. This idea is obviously wishful thinking. Yet perhaps a part of us wishes we could just get the latest update for personality, to be ‘on-trend’ and healthy enough for others. Instead maybe some of us feel ‘stuck’ as it were with frailties and weaknesses hoisted on us by our development amidst the fallibilities and dross of human life. We have been ‘ripped off’! Or have we?
St. Paul, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, could be wrestling with something of his own lost-ness when he writes about a thorn in his flesh tormenting him (2Cor12:7). Often when Paul speaks of ‘flesh’ he is referring generally to the experience of the human condition. Something within his experience is akin to the pain and discomfort of a thorn. It will not leave him. He prays to God repeatedly that it would go, however it does not.
We don’t know what this thorn of Paul’s is, or how similar it might or might not be to the familial and suburban thorns The Clash highlight. What is instructive, however, is how Paul lived with his. He too sees it as a weakness of personality, and yet it is a weakness that he embraces, and is even thankful for. Why? It keeps him grounded both in his own human experience and in his relationship with the Divine.
Why would this grounding be necessary? Christian spirituality speaks of the limitations and weaknesses in our psychology as a way through which we can experience the humility necessary for a balanced and authentic human life. Human life is not about striving to live perfectly so that we might be productive, accepted, and loved. Human life is about a fallible and finite journey towards a mysterious wholeness, a wholeness that lives at our depths. This wholeness can be lived and revealed in our lives and personalities as we let go more and more into healing grace. We are divinely loved on the way during the whole of this journey, not just loved only when we are good enough.
Our personalities can be healed by this love as we live the human journey. And yet the psychic scares of personality never completely leave us. We are healed for life and our scars are a part of life. In time these scares become part of the way in which we can uniquely and humbly love as God loves. They are also part of the way in which we are grounded in relationship with ourselves, each other, and God. The weaknesses which, at first, seem to be at the root of our human lost-ness, which seem a ripping off, become tender blessing. Like St. Paul we can come to accept, and re-accept time and time again, that all we really need is grace and a humanity humble enough to keep on growing in acceptance of this grace. Divine love always finds us in our lost-ness, our weakness.
One way to experience, to discover, and grow in this divine finding of us in our lost-ness is to practice Christian meditation. The grace in our practice transforms us and helps us discover the healing that happens on the way of life.