On Knowing Yourself


Identity: "I am getting to know myself."

Scripture: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14

I used to live in Newnan, Georgia. We had a small ranch house with a massive backyard. It was flat and lined with white oak trees down the left and woods to the right. One day, my old classmate from London, Tom Parkins, and I spent hours and hours blowing and raking leaves into the biggest pile known to man. At dusk, we were laying in the leaves, staring up at the sky, smoking our pipes, and telling stories about our school days across the pond. Then Tom asked a question that struck me like a lightning bolt. "Alex, you always go on and on about knowing God, and that's great. But I've never heard you say anything about knowing yourself. Do you know you?" At first, I said, "What on earth do you mean, 'Do I know me? Of course, I do! I've lived with myself my whole life!'" "Right," said Tom. That's why I have to ask you again, "Do you know the real you?" It was back then that I realized I had a massive hole in my theology. I had always equated honest self-reflection with mere selfishness, and therein was the problem.

Knowing myself is actually a command I am intended to follow. How else can I "guard my heart" (Prov. 4:23) if I don't know what it longs for or what makes it hurt? How else I "watch my life" (1 Tim. 4:16) if I’m constantly looking away either to God, the church, or someone else? Today, you have permission to take two minutes, center yourself, and then contemplate the mystery of your own life. Perhaps you will grieve. Perhaps you will grin. Perhaps you will be able to trace the fingerprints of your Heavenly Father who has always loved you.

“And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.” 
— Augustine, Confessions, 216.