Who Are You?

16 Aug

“You can never step into the same river twice.” I can thank the great Dr. Sheafer for introducing me to the paradox of Heraclitus. While it wasn’t something at all objectionable, it was something that caused me to become more contemplative. All of us have incredibly difficult things that shape our lives.

Our experiences are a profound influence on what we become. I am a very different person than I was ten years ago. Sure, there are core things about me that have not changed, but I am different. This is easy to accept personally, but I find it much harder when dealing with others. Why do they have to become different also (or different in a different way than I have changed)?

The advent of Facebook has made this funny for me also. I’ll find people who are my friends and through the “mutual friends” function and see people that I know from completely different facets of life. Weird when someone else knows them both, I think. Even more than that, however, I can become friends with someone at a specific instance in my life and that relationship can last many things, but finding differences in this person could have, at a different time in my life, caused me to not be friends with that person.

A complementary truth to this, additionally, is that no two people have the exact same experiences. My wife and I met in high school and went to the same school. Yet when talking with my son about one of our friends from high school, my wife corrected me that it wasn’t “our” friend, but rather “my” friend. There was no malice or frustration in her, just the fact that we went to different high schools. I know we attended the same schools, but there are just experiences that differ creating a very different overall effect.

I have another friend, who seems to differ with me politically. Yet, as we talk through the issues, we realized that we actually agree on a great many things. There is just one issue on which we disagree and that issue is the most important issue to him. And the reason he feels the way he does is because of his experiences. He had a life that was dramatically affected by something that alters his position of this issue.

I am content that some people disagree with me on things that are not mandated absolutes, but I think the real question is “What issues make us who we are?” What are the things that define us, such that we cannot negotiate friendship on them? When you can answer that question, then you can realize at what stage of the “river” you are in as a person, and who you are now. But I am willing to bet, that even these “non-negotiables” were or will be negotiable at one point. And that is what makes life on earth exciting!

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One Response to “Who Are You?”

  1. Judi-CAJ August 18, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    Very good food for thought, Matt. I like to consider that every person that I have ever met, is someone that God placed in my path for a reason. Perhaps it is because they had something to teach me, perhaps the other way around. Sometimes it is years before you ever know, sometimes you never know, but each life, each 'friend' is important if for no other reason that because God allowed your paths to cross. We hit it off with some, and not with others, but all are valuable. We do change over time and the hope is that if our core values are godly values, that they will not change. I see this in students all the time. Many do change during those college years, but so many of them do return to those godly roots ….it is a learning process, a way to define who they really are. We all have something to learn from one another at all times….and you made me stop and ponder ……people come from different perspectives, often on only one issue, because of the path they have walked. Good thoughts, especially for this political season!

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