When I was a teenager, I’d occasionally dream I was someone else. My dream alter ego was never anyone I knew; once I dreamed I was a stocky, pale-haired young man named Charlie, and I dreamed up a best friend and a mom for myself out of whole cloth, too. When I woke up from these kinds of dreams, my thoughts went like this:
First, Whoa, that was weird.
Then, Wow, that was such a relief!
Especially as a teenager, obsessed with my appearance and how others perceived me, it was amazing to get to be someone else for awhile. My constant preoccupation with myself was a burden I only noticed when it was temporarily lifted.
That’s a part of what prayer is to me, too.
In Christianity, we say things like, “We have to die to ourselves,” or “He must become greater, I must become less.” I know this sounds shocking to some people, like following Jesus involves violence to oneself.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is just the Christian way of saying something that many other religions also say, most notably Buddhism. The false self, the ego, the impostor, whatever you want to call it: so much of our constructed identities are actually burdensome to us.
And we don’t realize this until we lay the burden down for a few minutes. When we become less and the Higher Power becomes greater, it’s like the cage gets smashed open or we peek our heads out of the cave to see the world above.
I must become less… not because God wants me to suffer, but because God wants me to be truly free.
Today’s 15 minutes of prayer: In the conference room at work again. The word of the day was “love” – I know I could meditate on that one for a long, long time.