How to be Human:
A guide book #2
What does it mean to be a being (Humanity specifically) that is made in the image and likeness of the God of the Universe?
What are the implications to us?
And if we are created for the purpose to BE Human, then what does that mean?
If we look at Genesis, throughout God’s narrative story, and modern Psychology, all signs point to one word: connection.
Children will die without human interaction. Without connection.
There are a number of abhorrent studies to show us this.
The human experience is desperately qualified by the ability to experience connection.
We were made in the image and likeness of a relational God and therefore we ourselves will reflect that to our very core. We crave connection, desire it, and due to the fall more often than not in our different ways, we hide from connection.
How do we live our lives within this idea of connection and relationships?
I have recently written a book about God’s narrative story, particularly in light of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of a relational God. In the book I try and share my journey of understanding that our lives are made up of four relationships. Our relationship (or lack thereof) with the creator God, our relationship to ourselves, our relationship to humanity, and our relationship to this earth and all things in it.
My book is reflecting more on the how, but today I wanted to think more on the “why”.
When I am thinking about our need of connection, going as far as saying it’s one of the most basic expressions of our humanity, I am overwhelmed by the freedom that gives me personally, and unarms me of my desire to be good enough, as relationships and connection are not measurable in that way. They are a growing organism that change and flux with time, circumstance, and maturity.
As I sat down to begin writing this, I thought, this could be fun and light. “A guide book to humanity” would be a funny title, because if you know me…well let’s just say I do not have it figured out. (I am sitting right now next to my three-year-old licking her book because “there are sparkles on it mama”, in yesterday’s workout clothes, trying to ignore the pile of dishes in my sink, and failing at not thinking about where my husband is right now (middle eastern country), and all the fear words that instinctively go through my head.
My job has taken me across the world, and what I’ve seen is that regardless where I am geographically there is a deep ache in humanity, an unexplainable craving of humans to be wanted, to be needed, to be connected. I see these desires, these deep groans inside of the church as well. The Church being the hands, feet, and mouth piece of Jesus here on earth, a family, a tribe, that is messy, beautiful, and often flawed.
This is not a dig at the church. A “how dare you be imperfect!”. I would expect nothing less from a group of humans working through the effects of living in disorder. As followers of Jesus we are all flawed humans trying to figure out what it means to be followers of Jesus.
But that I believe is one of the main problems. One of the greatest threats to trying to figure out how to be human is the desire to be more then human, thus crushing our ability to connect as humans.
It’s a vicious cycle.
Here are some example of what I mean:
-I must be perfect. I must get it all done, and do it all with a smile on my face. My emotions are invalid. I must get through this with the fruits of the Spirit. It doesn’t matter that I feel crushed. It doesn’t matter that I feel pain. I must get this done, and I must do it all with the grace that is befitting a follower of Jesus.
-I want to design sustainable buildings. I feel the creativity bursting in my veins, but I understand that is not good enough. I understand that _____ is what I should really be doing. I can’t tell anyone. For some reason I feel full of shame. I am bad for wanting this because there is so much more I should be doing. There are so many other people/things that need me.
-They can’t know. It draws me. I want to look. I want to feel. The pictures, the movies, they make me feel. I feel wanted. I feel fulfilled. If only for a moment. I feel all those deep emotions, I want it all. I know it’s not real. I need to just get over it. I need to make sure it never happens again. No one can know, but I’ve got this under control. I haven’t for ___ weeks/hours/minutes. I just need to stop thinking about it.
-I am not enough for them. They do not love me. I will never be pretty enough, smart enough, kind enough, have enough capacity, have enough money, have enough to give. I am not enough, and they all know it.
These examples are people trying to be more then human. Thus rejecting the very connection that could remind them that they are human. And being human means even flawed are worthy of love and acceptance (due to the fact that their value is intrinsically wrapped in a God that does not change, because that’s who’s image they bear).
Because you are made in the image and likeness of a creator God that is good, you hold intrinsic value. Your “humaness” makes you good enough without action or inaction.
That level of value and importance is why the God of the Universe was willing to make himself as one of us. To make himself Human was a reflection of what great value we carry and the love He has for those He values.
He is a good God that created a reflection of Him. Not based on anything we’ve done/have not done is why we carry value. Rather God is a God who would only create something worth saving. He put His mark on us, as image bearers.
We carry value because of that act, not our own.
To live our lives trying to be more then human, is not more spiritual or more holy, it is in fact just the opposite. It is a lie (one of the original lies) that to be more then human is to be better or more then who we were created to be.
We are created human, created in reflection of a relational God and a major implication of that is our drive, pursuit, need, craving for connection.
By the attempt at being more then human (or less then human maybe), each of these examples limits or outright rejects connection. Either by fear of rejection, fear of emotions, or fear of self, each one tried to shut off, or shut out the very thing that would have given them freedom: connection.
By fearing our humanity, and trying to act above it, we limit our ability to function as humans, thus limiting our very purpose of existence.
By limiting connection, we are limiting ourselves to living in “part” versus the ideal state, which is living in wholeness.
The definition of wholeness here being the ability to function as a human.
It is NOT perfection.
Perfection and wholeness are two wildly different expectations on our lives.
One who lives for perfection will always avoid connection, because the deeper the connection, the more likely we are to barring our flaws that we work so hard to hide and fix.
Working towards wholeness is a process of allowing God to define our worth based on who He is, and allowing other people into the journey of the process.
The process of learning how to let people in beyond what you have already figured out. Beyond what you have “perfected”. Beyond what we view as “good enough”.
My deepest fear of disconnection is being imperfect in any relationship. I don’t care if you are the guy I buy my petrol from, or the person I look up to most in the world. If we meet I want you to feel:
b. Impressed by me
If I fail on either of those my natural tendency is not “I have failed” it is rather “I am a failure”. I have let me self-worth be so wrapped up in others view of me that the only thing I can do if I want to truly preserve this broken lie I have created for myself is lack of connection.
If I am not truly connected to you, then I can’t let you down. I can’t fail you.
If you don’t know my struggle, if I am able to become so disconnected from you, I am able to hide from what your rejection, anger, or indifference makes me feel.
It’s funny because my first desire is to make those around me feel loved. But instead of a love that is selfless, based on the value I see in you, it can so easily be twisted if I try and be more then human and desire recognition over connection.
This is just one of my (many) struggles that I face while pursuing connection. But each step I take towards being more fully human, living in more wholeness, it becomes messier, more emotional, it calls for much more maturity, but I can actually breathe.
Each step I take, I can’t explain other than saying I actually feel more human.
Instead of perfection over my life, I seek growth.
It is earth shatteringly different.
I am in the journey to discovering more what it means to be human, what it means to follow a God who is Elohim (creator God), but also Jesus (Son of Man).
This God that created humanity, marked us with his image and likeness, and then regardless of our choices, still stepped into humanity as one of us to show us what it means to be a human once more.
To live in fullness means we are functioning out of each relationship given to us, God, ourselves, humanity, and the earth. All those can only be lived in wholeness when you are connected back to the creator of them all.
Why do we desire connection? Why do we seek recognition; the bastard of connection? Why do we hide from the very purpose of existence?
Because you were built to live life in open, caring, honest, growing relationships, and to live without is to live part human.
To learn to connect or to re-connect is this incredibly beautiful process lead by partnering with Jesus, to allow our hearts, minds, bodies to be discipled by Him. To not fear our humanity, but to rather lean into the discomfort that so often accompanies this journey, to find the freedom, hope, and yes connection that comes on the other side.
“How to be human a field guide” is my attempt at communicating how and where that journey goes.
You are very welcome to come along.