May 8, 2018

You and I at root are emotional and spiritual creatures, created to live fully. We do so by living fully in relationship with our selves, others, and God. This realty is our pre-design.

The research of the past two decades in neuroscience re-confirms this reality, indicating over and over again how the limbic system of the brain “finds” gratification through relational connection. And a sense of well-being comes from belonging and mattering to others and God. A line of thought in ancient wisdom of philosophy and religion has been saying these things for as long as history of life has been recorded.

Dependence, trust, vulnerability, and truth-telling about our hearts works to bring us a fulfilling life. Of course, bad things continue to happen, and evil still tromps about to crush how we are created. However, the reality of our pre-design, and its demand that we find fulfillment through relationship is not stopped by bad things or evil.

People who resist and deny their pre-design are pretenders, not contenders. All kinds of pretenses are placed above the reality of how we are created. We use pretending to attempt to avoid the neediness that is inherent in our very makeup. We manufacture facades and abuse our many gifts to avoid the primacy of how we are created. That is, we wear a thousand masks to avoid the exposure of the human heart.

The price we pay to “succeed,” while avoiding the reality of how we are created, limits our lives precipitously. That is, our “success” actually triggers a downward spiral.

The things we do to protect us from the vulnerability of our pre-design rob us of the lives we are created to have. Egotism, willpower, intellect, figuring, a hard-driven nature, toughness, perfectionism, daily determination, moral agendas, concentration of consciousness, manipulative conscientiousness, “shoulds,” prideful independence, trust in one’s own strength, self-sufficiency, promises, codependence, self-condemnation as a form of motivation, deal making, relationship as business, demand, not risking, contempt, resentment, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, isolation, or even over-involvement and approval seeking, don’t work to manufacture a life that is full, with a heart that is gratified.

Denying and ignoring the voice of one’s own heart, and attempting to control people in one’s own environment has been the world’s prescription for life fulfillment for years and years. This prescription demands that one’s own heart be prohibited from speaking or condemned to silence. That form of living brings us survival only. Not fulfillment.

We were born with the freedom to say what we see, and feel what we feel. We were born with the freedom to need and hope. We were born with the freedom to imagine ourselves in a full life that has always had at its core being connected to others and God. We came into this world without masks. We put them on to defend ourselves from enemies, understandably. But in the process, we lose the ability to look for friends and believe that they exist. We lose the trust that God is good and loves us.

To live again as we are created requires that we take the courageous step of returning to our freedom. We put down our masks by returning to the freedom of our pre-design. We tell the truth about what is going on behind our masks. We say what we see again, and feel what we feel again. We risk saying what we need, and we dare to hope that we can be known from the inside out. We imagine again by remembering what we used to dream—before the pain of vulnerability triggered aversion to risk. In returning to freedom, we belong and matter to those who have the same courage.

As much as we wish otherwise, people who are fully alive have to contend. Not pretend. In spite of the risk, by contending we find that our pre-design is not a mistake, not some kind of genetic curse. Our pre-design is a gift from God to call us to live fully. By returning to our freedom, we discover that good things happen to people who are fully known from the inside out.