Depending on how you punctuate the above and perhaps change “I Am” to “Am I”, this can be a question or a statement.
I think we spend the majority of our lives asking the question, “Who am I supposed to be?” We come into this world as innocent babies, dependent on someone to care for us for everything. That person could be a parent, parents, grandparents, other family members and/or foster or adoptive parents.
Our formative years are shaped and modeled by those around us and our environment. If we are lucky, those years were mostly positive ones. One of the frequent meme’s going around on social media says something along the line of “I rode in cars without seatbelts, rode bikes without helmet, played outside from dusk until dawn, played in ponds and mud puddles, played cowboys and Indians, …. And I survived.” Indeed, we had far fewer restrictions and fears than children today have. We knew we were expected home at dinner time to eat with the family. We had a healthy respect for our parents (if we knew better, anyway) and possibly knew that we could get spanked if we got out of line. Some parent, though, used belts and switches rather than a hand. (Being a parent myself, I realize that using your own hand sure makes you hurt as well and would avoid that as much as possible. I cannot imagine using something harder.)
As life goes on, more and more of our innocence vanishes. We learn that life is not always fair, that some actions have bitter consequences. We learn to bend truths to fit our own purpose, to manipulate others. We learn what it is to be judgmental, to fear certain peoples.
And before we know it, we are adults trying to navigate this earthly sphere on our own. We bring with us all those things, good and bad, that we learned growing up. We use them or toss them aside as we formulate what we believe we want to be in this world.
The only thing is…. There is no end date on figuring out who we are supposed to be! We can start off in one direction, knowing exactly what we want to do with our lives and our careers, only to be totally thrown off course by some event or simply by the realization that, “hmmm, I don’t really like to do this job”. That pattern can potentially play out over and over and over.
Sometimes – we get it right. Often – we do not. Sometimes it is our own undoing – and sometimes it is just that we have not figured out what is the best path for us.
Recently I attended a virtual workshop where we talked about “Life Paths”. I had never really heard that term and had no idea what it all meant. The facilitator spoke about numerology and how to use it to discover what our Life Path is. According to numerology, when we are born onto this earth we arrived at a specific time chosen by “us” to a certain set of parents. Our life path was already chosen for us before we arrived. For Christians, this equates to God knowing about us even before we were as a grain of mustard seed, he knew us before we came to this earth. So, while numerology is not religious, it is somewhat spiritual in nature and can sometimes align closely to what we may have heard growing up.
As the workshop continued and we figured out our life path, the facilitator went on to talk about the traits of people under certain life paths. Life paths are numbered 1-9. After the workshop I figured out the life path for my children, my spouses, my siblings. You know what I found. The descriptions were pretty spot on for each of them.
One of the things that was discussed was the fact that while we are supposed to be a certain life path, sometimes our lives have thrown us off course. If that has happened, we may find ourselves never feeling settled, not being in a good place, as if we are a ship that has veered off course but we have no idea why. If we look at our life path, we can see where we should be and work towards getting back to that place (or finding it in the first place) and then we may find our authentic self.
That is not to say we may not exhibit traits in other life paths, but rather we have one that is very strong and the others are just supportive features.
Where am I going with all of this? I’ll take you on my personal journey.
I was born into what would eventually be a family of seven: Mom, Dad myself and 4 siblings. We were raised in the Christian Science faith. We lived in a moderate middle-income neighborhood and that was pretty much the status of all the kids we grew up with. My mother was the main parent in our lives, handling all the day-to-day functions. I rarely saw her angry, I never saw her cry. She was friendly to everyone. My dad held down a steady job, provided for us. He could get mad and angry and yell at us to pick things up, etc. But, for the most part, the childhood I remember was just plain and ordinary.
My personality growing up was that of a fairly meek child, obedient, rarely stepped out of my shell. I followed the rules for the most part. I was not one to rock the boat because I did not like it if my parents got mad at me. I was very sensitive.
Once I was out of the house, I gently tried to spread my wings, going against some of the things I was raised to do or not do – but never anything dangerous. When I moved 3,000 miles away to California I was, quite literally, on my own. But all my siblings and myself had been raised to be independent and to be able to move away from home once we were done with school or college.
I stayed with Christian Science for a number of years but, once my second child was born, started having serious doubts about whether or not this religion was one that I truly felt served me. I waxed and waned with it for over a dozen years until one year I had a ‘lightbulb moment’ and realized that the intention I had (to give my children some religious knowledge) was not working for me – and I really needed to have something that fed me on a spiritual level. So, at the age of 35, I ventured to a new church, a Lutheran church. This church was selected because I knew some people there though I knew nothing about the principles.
My life seemed to be going in the right direction, my family was thriving, we were happily motoring along…. Until we weren’t. Church dynamics can be very strong and we found that out when a new pastor arrived. Once again, I found myself in search for something else that would feed me spiritually and did locate another nearby Lutheran church.
That church served us well for a number of years … until it didn’t. I ran into some ‘church’ principles that just didn’t feel right and a pastor who was beginning to disengage with the church. When I could not attend church on Sunday mornings because I had to care for either my mother-in-law or George, I was not heartbroken. I mainly would attend because it was the place where George was comfortable and that was important to me to support him. (Ironically, it was him supporting me when he first started attending with me after we’d been dating for a short while).
On a personal level, a career level, I’d had several types of jobs ranging from Special Education instructor (which is what my degree was in), to an Administrative Assistant as well as other office type jobs at the same business due to cutbacks, and on to a parts manager for a pressure washer company. From there I went in and out of retirement, choosing not to work as I did not have to. I found my new calling when I took on a volunteer position at the local blind center which morphed into a paying job. I truly felt that was my calling, a perfect mix of office work and working with clients. I was totally happy there until things started falling apart and I was forced to hold down the fort while taking care of my cancer-ridden husband. And I retired once again.
George died in the fall of 2019. Now, for the first time in my life, I am on my own with no husband or children in my everyday life. While it is sometimes scary, I find myself navigating a whole new road, a whole new journey for myself. After being a caregiver for over a dozen years, I have only myself to answer to now. I have my own schedule. I can do with my life whatever it is I want to do.
It has taken a year since George died but I now feel like I can truthfully say I am “Just Exactly Who I Am Supposed to Be”. I am laying out my plans and feeling good about them. I have always had faith that things will work out as they should and, whether good or bad things happened, I embraced them and worked with them and through them. It is something that comes as naturally to me as the rising and setting of the sun each day.
Now, back to the Life Path. When the facilitator described the characteristics of a Life Path 7 (that’s me), it says 7’s will be spiritual, one of the most spiritual of the nine paths. While they may have had a religious background, they are more about spirituality than religion. (That describes me to a T! I don’t need a church building to show my faith and teach others about faith.) They have one foot on the ground and one foot in the air which signifies they have a connection between earth and heaven. Things don’t have to make sense in a physical sense but more so in a spiritual sense. They will overthink and overanalyze because the physical side is fighting the spiritual side. [I do that when I try to use my head rather than my heart… because my heart, my intuition will always be a better guide for me.] They know there is something greater that controls their lives. When 7’s are in a good place, everyone around them is affected. [I have been told by perfect strangers that I have a wonderful aura.]
Thus, this numerology thing appears to have some validity. I’ve tested it by looking at the numbers of others I know and often it describes them almost perfectly.
Where are you in your life? Are you content and happy (and I don’t mean things are perfect because that is unrealistic)? Do you feel like you belong where you are right now? If not, I invite you to look inward, look inside your heart. What is growing there? What do you feel drawn toward? Sometimes we try to control our lives too hard, looking for answers that are not there. We try over and over and over again and fail over and over and over again. That may be you fighting against what you are supposed to be.
God has a plan for each and every one of us. Every detail that happens in our lives happens to make us learn and to grow. And I do mean EVERY thing. We will love and we will lose, we will feel great joy and enormous pain. We have the choice whether or not to fight or flee, to accept or deny. We can choose to do good with the joys and sorrows of our lives or to succumb to them. My hope is that you will take each experience given to you, hold it in your hand and your heart, examine it, find the good in it, find the lesson in it, and keep moving toward the place of being just exactly where you are supposed to be.