When you take out your pen and paper to write your answers down, keep in mind that it’s not about giving the right answers. It’s about examining your life. We all need to examine it once in a while. Sometimes we go astray without noticing. This is an exercise to discover who you are at the moment, so be honest in your answers, otherwise it won’t be helpful.
The following rules and texts are an excerpt from the book ‘That Incredible Christian’ by A.W. Tozer. I added the question at the end to help you along.
We can be known by the following:
1. What we want most
“We have but to get quiet, recollect our thoughts, wait for the mild excitement within us to subside, and then listen closely for the faint cry of desire. Ask your heart, What would you rather have than anything else in the world? Reject the conventional answer. Insist on the true one, and when you have heard it you will know the kind of person you are.”
✎ Ask your heart, what would you rather have than anything else in the world?
2. What we think about most
“The necessities of life compel us to think about many things, but the true test is what we think about voluntarily. It is more than likely that our thoughts will cluster about our secret heart treasure, and whatever that is will reveal what we are. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.””
✎ When you have time to think, what do you like to think about?
3. How we use our money
“Again we must ignore those matters about which we are not altogether free. We must pay taxes and provide the necessities of life for ourselves and family, if any. That is routine, merely, and tells us little about ourselves. But whatever money is left to do with as we please—that will tell us a great deal indeed. Better listen to it.”
✎ How do you spend the money that is left after you paid for all the necessities?
4. What we do with our leisure time
“A large share of our time is already spoken for by the exigencies of civilized living, but we do have some free time. What we do with it is vital. Most people waste it staring at the television, listening to the radio, reading the cheap output of the press or engaging in idle chatter. What I do with mine reveals the kind of man I am.”
✎ How do you spend your leisure time?
5. The company we enjoy
“There is a law of moral attraction that draws every man to the society most like himself. “Being let go, they went to their own company.” Where we go when we are free to go where we will is a near infallible index of character.”
✎ Who do you like to see in your spare time?
6. Whom and what we admire
“I have long suspected that the great majority of evangelical Christians, while kept somewhat in line by the pressure of group opinion, nevertheless have a boundless, if perforce secret, admiration for the world. We can learn the true state of our minds by examining our unexpressed admirations. Israel often admired, even envied, the pagan nations around them, and so forgot the adoption and the glory and the covenants and the law and the promises and the fathers. Instead of blaming Israel let us look to ourselves.”
✎ Who do you admire?
7. What we laugh at
No one with a due regard for the wisdom of God would argue that there is anything wrong with laughter, since humor is a legitimate component of our complex nature. Lacking a sense of humor we fall that much short of healthy humanity. But the test we are running here is not whether we laugh or not, but what we laugh at. Some things lie outside the field of pure humor. No reverent Christian, for instance, finds death funny, nor birth nor love. No Spirit-filled man can bring himself to laugh at the Holy Scriptures, or the Church which Christ purchased with His own blood, or prayer or righteousness or human grief or pain. And surely no one who has been even for a brief moment in the presence of God could ever laugh at a story involving the Deity.”
✎ What do you laugh at? What do you find funny?
The photos in this article are self portraits I took with a vintage Polaroid camera.
“The human body essentially recreates itself every six months. Nearly every cell of hair and skin and bone dies and another is directed to its former place. You are not who you were last November.”⠀
I Am Not Who I Am
(Rembrandt And I)
A Journal Entry
One morning I listened to Tomas Sadlacek talk about the story of the prodigal son. When the prodigal son ends up poor and alone the Bible says “He came to himself.” Sadlacek said this phrase seemed very weird to him. He said: “Somehow we as people are not ourselves.” He linked it to God, who says: “I am who I am.” And that with human beings it should be: “We are not who we are.”
Later in the day I was leafing through a book about Rembrandt and it made me wonder why he painted the way he did. Those lights and shadows, the mysteriousness, the atmosphere. So I made a little study of it. I took a photo of myself and edited it the way Rembrandt painted. The result was interesting. A boring, awkward self portrait had turned into an interesting, mysterious portrait of a woman who wasn’t me.
The fact that we as humans are not who we are gives us room to try, to change, to adjust, to see ourselves in a different light. Keep what we like, discard what we don’t like. Rembrandt said that life etches itself onto our faces as we grow older, showing our violence, excesses or kindnesses. And so I hope that the older we get, the lovelier we look