Breaking and entering into your uniqueness
Not long ago my friend Mark, the photo journalist, and I took a road trip across the south. I met him in Texas and we spent the week before Christmas with no real agenda other than to end up in Florida. It was one of those trips that was more about the journey than the destination.
A few miles outside of New Orleans there’s a Six Flags that was abandoned after the devastation of hurricane Katrina. Mark and I had heard about this location from a friend. The theme park has been shot by many well known photo journalists, mainly as a piece for their personal collections. We slid our car around to a side entrance that was hidden from the main road and jumped the fence.
It was like a time machine in some ways. Beyond the looting, vandalism, and water damage were snapshots of a facility that was quickly evacuated; photos of workers' families remain in upper level offices, Profit and Loss statements blowing around the grounds. I even saw a dressing room sign for my friends' band in one of the doorways; they played a show there just a few days before the storm.
Exploration. Most of us gravitate towards it in one form or another. The scientists explore protons, romantics explore each other, and the rest of us explore the Internet. We look for the next video of laughing babies or clever cats or the coolest of un-cool bands that no one's ever heard of. We have been exploring Gods creation since He created it. Discovering new lands, new Galaxy's, new sounds - humanity loves cultivating "new".
Which is how I got to the topic of self discovery. We as humans are created beings, carrying a unique deposit of God’s image. Doesn’t it make sense that we would desire to explore the creation that is “us”? Just as getting to know others is uncovering the God in them, getting to know ourselves is a way to unearth the God in us.
12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
I don’t believe the encouragement to pay close attention to your self is connected to “teaching” by chance. It seems like there’s this subtle nudge to dive into who God has made you while still remaining tethered to the Word. It’s like repelling or cave diving; you wouldn’t just start your descent without being attached to someone or something at the top. Introspection can be dangerous but when the goal is uncovering who God has formed us to be, it can also be freeing.
For Mark and I the excitement wasn’t that no one had ever been to that abandoned park. It was the fact that it was a mysterious place to us. There were conceivable dangers, possible rewards, and a whole lot of unknown for us to find on our own. At first it was quite intimidating and then things started to become familiar. When we had taken our share of photos and memories we snuck back beyond the fences and set off to discover something new.
The next few posts will discuss ways to jump the fence into our own Imago Dei, become familiar with who He’s made us to be, so that our “progress may be evident to all... to ensure salvation both for [ourselves] and for those who hear [us]."