Over lunch with a friend recently, I shared my nervousness about speaking at an upcoming event before a notoriously critical audience. He said, “Roy, don’t worry. Just be yourself.”
At first that was comforting. I thought “Of course, silly. Just be Roy.” As I drove away, it became less comforting. I found myself asking “What does that mean? What does it mean to ‘be myself’ Who is Roy”?
Upon reflecting, I realized that the word “just” is misleading. It implies that being one’s self is easy and simple. It is not. For most , it will be the most complex and difficult thing they ever do-and I suspect, is the work of a lifetime.
Being one’s self assumes one knows one’s self. At 40 years old, after almost twenty years of intentional inner work, I am still discovering who I am. I once thought that as I got older, I would achieve a greater simplicity of self knowledge. I am discovering the opposite to be true.
The more self aware I become the more I see myself as a very mixed bag. I’m realizing, painfully, that much of the good I’ve done in my life has been done largely for ego reasons, mixed motives at best.
The more I pray, the less I see myself as “all” of anything, which is incredibly difficult for me who’s nickname could be “All or Nothing.”
Within me is the Roy who feels called to simplicity of life and gave away everything he owned three times in his life alongside the Roy who asked for it all back twice and loves to own nice things.
There’s the encouraging, passionate, hopeful Roy next to the Roy who has battled bouts depression and despair his whole life.
There’s the Roy who wants to be humble, “hidden in Christ with God” who has never met a mic he didn’t like and loves the attention he receives when speaking in front of others.
There’s the Roy who longs to deeply listen to others but has trouble shutting up because he loves the sound of his own voice.
There’s the Roy who loves to pray in silence and solitude alongside the Roy who is frequently lonely and looks to others to distract, entertain and occupy him.
Would the real Roy please stand up?
On any given day I desperately wish any one of those selves would be the only, real one. As God would have it, the real Roy is all of those and many more–some I’d rather not share publicly, and others I’m still discovering.
As I sit with all of my inconsistent selves, I know that I sit with them before my consistent God who holds and loves all of me. And I suspect that the Roy who sits there is the realest Roy there is.