What’s your shape? I’m not talking about your body shape, i.e., weight, tall, thin, short, or wide. I’m more interested in who you are under the skin. What has happened to shape you into the person you are?
What is your personality like? What do you like to eat? Favorite music tastes. Are you a cat person or a dog person, or neither? Where were you born? What do you do to relax? What are the multiple facets that make you wonderfully different from someone else?
Who are you?
“Today you are you!
That is truer than true!
There is no one alive…
…who is you-er than you!
Shout loud, “I am lucky to be what I am!
Thank goodness I’m not just a clam or a ham
Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam!
I am what I am!
That’s a great thing to be!
If I say so myself,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!”
The circle of your ‘I.’
I often like to share with people that I support the concept of the ‘I,’ ‘WE,’ WORK’ shared originally to me by psychologist Renier Greef. It’s comprised of four circles.
The first circle is that of the individual. The ‘I’ refers to you. Who you are.
It’s not a perfect circle. It’s imperfect. It’s freehand drawn to represent how unique and irregular we all are. No two circles are the same.
But this circle contains all of who you are.
You may only know a small percentage of what is within your circle. Much of the essential information is subconscious. It can be discovered if you want to go there. That subconscious below-the-surface flow of heart talk has been in the shaping process from before birth.
Every one of us has ‘I..’ It’s what makes us uniquely human. You have a shape full of delight.
Your neighbor does, also.
A man was traveling.
Jesus was in conversation with someone who had been shaped into having a litigious personality. They loved a good argument and getting their opponents tied up in knots.
This expert in the law enjoyed making people feel small and foolish by using their intelligence and cunning. There was no gentle curiosity in them. It was more a legal ‘I win, you lose.’
He asks Jesus a question.
Just then, a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”
He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?” Luke 10:25-29
You can sense the tossing of words back and forth. A question is asked, and a question is given in response. The legal and correct answer is given.
Another question is presented. This is a question of defining who is in and who is out. Who is a ‘neighbor’ and who is not? What shape of persons are acceptable?
But actually, it’s a question of lines. Who will I cross a line for and love, and who I don’t have to cross over to know.
Jesus answers the question with a story.
There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Luke 10:30
Those listening to this story would have immediately noticed that Jesus was telling a parable and that the primary character, the one that this parable was about, was the first person mentioned in the story. It was a man. It was an ‘I.’
Jesus invited them to view everything about this story as if they were this man. They were to look through his eyes.
They knew nothing about this man other than he was a man and that he was traveling.
But this man had a shape to him. He was human.
Jesus tells them nothing else about the man with which they could box him within. Jesus said nothing about his ethnicity, wealth, marital status, age, or occupation. Nothing that we might be able to codify or label him with. Nothing from which we could decide if he was in or out of the ‘acceptable’ shapes to mix with.
He was simply a man on a journey. He could have been any one of us.
And that’s the first point Jesus was making. This anonymous man is us. It is you. This is someone in the shape of you.
Jesus tells us that he was on a road and that he was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho.
Those early listeners would have known this road well. It was a steep road from Jerusalem in the heights to Jericho in the plains. It was scorched and arid.
Eighteen miles long, this road was a major route for trading caravans, military personnel, and the pilgrims who visited Jerusalem multiple times each year. It was a busy road.
But it was also a dangerous road where bandits and robbers would attack travelers. There would have been many hiding places and escape routes into the desert where no one would pursue them.
This road from Jerusalem to Jericho was a dangerous route.
Whats your road been like?
In the shaping of your ‘I,’ what has happened on your pilgrim’s road?
I once walked the Camino de Santago pilgrimage in Spain. On the very first day of the walk, I encountered some robbers and thieves. They didn’t come with fists and fury. They were more subtle. They wanted a signature on a petition and a donation to a cause. They were sly and cunning to the many innocent travellers.
On the journey I met other similar scam artists preying on the vulnerable.
They were willing to cross a line of truth to elicit some funds. I found out later that there was a gang supporting their deceit.
Have you ever experienced being robbed?
For the most part, the fellow pilgrims on our path are helpful, friendly, and respectful.
This is our journey, and it shapes us.
What has shaped you?
How do the lines around your ‘I’ look from the pilgrimage so far?
Our road through life is the same. We will have others with us. We will connect the shape of us with the shape of them. Lines around us will intersect. Some will enhance our shape, while others will rob and bring harm. Many will bring both.
I’m in love with the shape of you.
There is something about you that has divine imprinting. Like the masterpiece artwork with the artist’s signature in the bottom corner. It’s a picture of your journey, and it has all the heights and all the lows.
The battle scars are seen for the story they tell. Callused feet and well-worn clothes. There is a ‘Mona Lisa’ smile that no one can truly work out. It’s there, and it tells its own story of completion.
I want to hear the story. The footsteps of your journey from Jerusalem to Jericho. I have my own experiences that may help you. You will help me. I’m in love with the shape of you. I’m interested in your ‘I.’
As I finished writing the above sentence, I received an email from someone unknown to me. A fellow traveler to Jericho.
I’m suffering so bad with mental illness, I am a Christian and want to trust God has a plan for me, I just can’t get through this and I want so bad to go be with Christ. I feel so rejected and alone, and see no hope for my future.
Something has robbed this traveler. I can see through their eyes and know the dark hole. They have a shape to themselves that God is in love with.
Quotes to consider
- Love is the outbound movement that trains people to heal injustice and kindly embrace the world. Norman Wirzba
- Loneliness is the first thing which God’s eye named not good. John Milton
- As pilgrims must discover if they are to complete their quest, we are led to truth by our weaknesses as well as our strengths. Parker Palmer
- Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart. Abraham Joshua Heschel
- To be more aware of the other person, first become more aware of yourself. Without self-awareness, self cannot be laid aside, in order to listen. D. Riddell
- Love yourself as you love others. If you don’t care for your own needs, you’ll soon be unable to care for those who need you. D. Riddell
- Spiritual growth begins with the easily overlooked disciplines of attentiveness and surrender. David Benner
- Love yourself as you love others. If you don’t care for your own needs, you’ll soon be unable to care for those who need you.D. Riddell
- Be there for others but never leave yourself behind. Dodinsky
Questions to answer
- What has happened in your pilgrimage to shape you into who you are?
- How would you describe your ‘I’? Likes, dislikes, hobbies, skills
- We all have areas in our lives that are ‘no-go’ for others to explore. What would it be like to have someone listen to those with fullness of grace and love?