I coach and mentor people. I ask this question every day: “What is going on?”
Occasionally, particularly if I just can’t seem to pinpoint what is going on, I ask some form of this question: “Who are you, anyway?” or “Who is that guy in there?” Those are pointed questions. I know that. But sometimes I just flat out ask it. Because I really want to know.
Sadly, some people truly don’t know. It’s sad. It’s scary. But it’s true. They probably could know, but they’d have to spent some time really being honest with themselves.
Of course, given that I tend to get up close and personal with people, some people just don’t ever play their cards. I can be a better help to them if they do. They just don’t. And I understand that. Am I trustworthy? Will I blow their cover? What if they do tell me the truth? Will I think less of them?
I asked a pastor not long ago, “Is there anyone with whom you really feel safe?”
“Hmmm,” he answered. “Now that I think about it, I guess I really don’t.”
Now juxtapose that response next to the incredibly sad news of Oscar Pistorious that seems to get worse by the hour. He is a very young man who has had an incredible platform for his fame and what looked to be a great future. Talk about “WOW.” And yet, what we apparently did not know — turns out: A lot. And who knows if Oscar knew himself. Or if Oscar truly felt safe with anyone. I seriously wonder if he did.
Bruce Arthur in the Canadian National Post wrote a poignant essay today on what it means to know ourselves. This gripping paragraph summarizes it…
“It’s just that Oscar Pistorius, Blade Runner, wasn’t the whole story. Sports is never the whole story. Lance Armstrong coming back from testicular cancer to win seven Tours de France was not the whole story. Joe Paterno, the learned coach who balanced college football and academics and morality in a way nobody else could, was not the whole story. Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend wasn’t the whole story. Nothing an athlete ever says or does is ever the whole story, any more than your job encapsulates the fullness of your life.”
You can read the whole essay here.
So, what is your story? My story? Do we know it? Do we want to explore it and let others see us — really see us?
Who us, deep down, does not want to be known … really known? I do, and I want to know others. How can we live in community if we don’t know each other? I mean really, truly know. How can we love our neighbor as our self if we never know our neighbor’s story?
And yet, most of us don’t know our neighbor’s story. If we were interviewed about all we could say would be, “He always seems like just the nicest guy. Kind of stays to himself I guess, but a heck of a nice guy.”
Oscar Pistorious, double amputee South African Olympian warrior that he was, played for an audience of millions. But those millions never knew who he truly was. (And of course, in some ways we don’t want our athletes, our heroes, to be just men. We don’t want to know who they really are. We want them to be gods.)
There is one person who really knows you and who really knows me. And in in the end, that audience of one is all that matters. Do we dare let him see us, and love us, and speak to us and say to us, “You are my son. I love you so much. Come to me. Come to Abba, daddy. Let me put my arm around your shoulder and kiss your sweaty neck. I am so proud to have you as a son.” … And dare we imagine young Oscar Pistorious, now facing a potential life in prison, saying that too. Imagine that…