Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why was I born?


Today I am going to start a new series of articles entitled David G. Markham's theology. My theology, of course, is no better than anyone else's. It is simply my attempt to explain my life and experience to myself. If you would like to read along, you are welcome.

I am hoping that my reflections will stimulate thoughts and reflections on your part and I hope that you will share your theological reflections either in comments or on your blog, or if you would like to post an article on UU A Way Of Life, I would be happy to accomodate you. Let me know at david@davidgmarkham.com.

I am going to answer my own existential questions. I will need help so please add your own comments, ideas, and references.


Existential question #1 is "Why was I born?"


My Balitmore Catechism answer Iwas taught as a child is "To know, love, and serve God."


The answer I have come to in my 64th year is "To become the best David Markham that I can become."


I know that God created us human beings each special and unique. Like snowflakes no two of us are alike. In addition we were incarnated at a particular point in human history, in my case 12/25/45. Why not 300 years earlier? Why not 200 years later? It seems to me there must be some reason. Like Mission Impossible, my mission, should I chose to accept it, is to figure it out - what is my mission? Is it something given to me, something to be discovered, or something to be created? I believe it is a little of all three.


God created me with a certain temperament, with certain talents and abilities as well as certain weaknesses and inadequacies, and God, I believe, calls me to do certain things with my life. What that is, I am not always sure. I have to discover this by experimenting, learning from my experience, and figuring it out as I go. I also believe, I have been given free will and so I have a certain latitude to create the life I want to have, the experience I believe I was born to experience.


When I get to the end of my life will I have become the person that deep down in my heart that I believe that God has created me to become? As Hamlet says, "To thine own self be true."


If there is a final judgment, it will be in the form of God asking me, "Did you become the person I created you to become?" If I say, I was always going to get around to it, but I was so busy trying to be the person my parents wanted me to be, or the person my partner wanted me to be, or the person my children wanted me to be, or the employee my employer wanted me to be, or the citizen my country wanted me to be, or the friend my friends wanted me to be, or the congregant that my church wanted me to be, I never quite around to being the person that deep down I believed you wanted me to be. What a tragedy.


The paradox, of course, is that our "self" is a social construction and no person is an island sufficient unto oneself. So there is a creative tension constantly of defining oneself within the context of experiencing oneself in relationship with others. It is in the defining of oneself in the context of one's relationships that we find ourself in relation to God.


Jesus said, "Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I will be."


Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living."


The answer to question #1, "Why was I born?" is to create an experience of yourself that will help you to know God, the transcendent, the Spirit of Life. To do this, one must become conscious. To do this, one must become self aware. To become self aware one must examine one's functioning in relationship, and it is this examination which is a rich spiritual practice that will help you carry out your mission to become the best person you can become and to create a understanding of why you were born.


I came here to give birth to and raise my children and to make the world a better place and to understand my own functioning in relationship with the Spirit of Life.


Some people achieve self understanding and understanding of self in relationships with others to a greater extent than others. This is what MurrayBowen called differentiation and what religious traditions call enlightment.

The spiritual practice which encourages this kind of growth is to have a spiritual mentor who helps you examine your life on a regular basis. This can be a psychotherapist, a spiritual director, a sponsor (like in a 12 step program), a confessor, a life partner who gives you high quality feedback. Regular meetings with someone who knows you well, who you can share your inner most thoughts, feelings, and behavior with is essential. Do you have such a person in your life? If not, and you wish to grow into the person you were born to become, recruit and invite such a person into your life. It could be a small group of people, but they need to understand their role in your life.

I have a psychotherapist whom I have seen for over 24 years and I see him monthly whether I need to or not. I also have some close friends, one in particular, whom I rely on for good feedback and with whom I can share my inner most thoughts and feelings.

I was raised a Roman Catholic and in my adolescence, when I was in the seminary, weekly confession with the same confessor was expected. While a difficult discipline, it kept me focused. In AA, when people work the program, they are expected to take a daily inventory and promptly correct any character defects.

I think in my adult understanding the Baltimore Catechism answer isn't a bad answer. I was born to know, love, and serve God. People do this most often by doing what they do best. What is your best? What were you born to do? Who do you know that you trust knows what you know?

This is article #1 in a series on David G. Markham's theology.,

7 comments:

  1. Well done Dave. I look forward to more ... David G. ... theology.
    For myself, 'acceptance' is a key to who I am. From where I came from ie... my parents and early childhood, and to who I am as an adult. The feedback we receive from others is so important as you mention.
    My thanks for keeping people focused on meaning of life and sharing great quotes from Jesus and Socrates.

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  2. "I came here to give birth to and raise my children and to make the world a better place and to understand my own functioning in relationship with the Spirit of Life."

    I could be mistaken David, but I think that your wife might take exception to the first eight words of that statement. ;-)

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  3. Hi Robin:

    You have a good point and I misspoke, but I was very involved in my wife's pregnancies and delivered the last four at home. Two I got an ambulance to, and two I did all by myself, but the woman does all the work and all I had to do was catch the slimy little things.

    All the best,

    David Markham

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  4. Hi Don:

    As always, thanks for your comments.

    You are one of those people who has a being that sparkles in a most graceful way.

    All the best,

    David Markham

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  5. "I came here to help* give birth to and raise my children and to make the world a better place and to understand my own functioning in relationship with the Spirit of Life."

    There I corrected it for you Dave. ;-)


    * In more ways than one.

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  6. Much better phrasing Robin.

    I appreciate your sensitivities.

    Thank you.

    All the best,

    David Markham

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  7. You're welcome David.

    Give my regards to your wife who gave birth to and helped you to raise your* children.



    * plural "your"

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