"It may be that what you could be haunts you. It is real. It is a weight you have to carry around. Each failure to become, to be, is a weight. Each state you could inhabit is a burden as heavy as any physical weight, but more so, because it weighs on your soul. It is the ghost of your possibilities hanging around your neck, an invisible albatross, potentials unknowingly murdered." Ben OkriI read this quote this morning and kind of hated how much it felt like my life, but it also stood in odd contrast to the other passage I spent my morning and day reflecting on.
As Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters, he will always love one and ignore the other” (Matthew 6:24). Our first and final loyalty is to one kingdom: God’s or our own. We can’t really fake it. The Big Picture is apparent when God’s work and will are central, and we are happy to take our place in the corner of the frame.You see the first passage has me feeling that I am of epic importance. If I fail I will somehow let all of the world down, because clearly the world needs me to relieve my own soul of the burden of my failure, and I can only do this by becoming who I could be. The second passage has relieves me of the burden of my own importance and allows me to be a participant in God's good work, but I am only a participant. If I fail God will take care of the rest. (To be clear I am not certain either author would love how I have internalized their words.)
Because I am a part of the Big Picture, I do matter, and substantially so. Because I am only a part, however, I am rightly situated off to stage right—and happily so. What freedom there is in such truth! We are inherently important and included, yet not burdened with manufacturing or sustaining that private importance. Our dignity is given by God, and we are freed from ourselves!
Adapted from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr, pp. 13-14
Nonetheless, I am not sure that I am saying this two ideas are mutually exclusive or that either is wrong (they both came from daily meditations by Christian websites that I really enjoy). But maybe they balance each other out a bit. You see maybe, I am carrying the weight of murdered potentials - killed by my fear, anxiety, or search for stability, and maybe, I am not so important that I have to carry that weight. Maybe, instead my unmet potential is something that God is already aware of and working in and carrying for me. Further as I am only part of the story, it is likely that other parts of the story are taking on and filling in the gaps left by of my failure. My unmet potential is only part of the work of the kingdom, just as my accomplished potential is also part of the Kingdom and none of that is the point because the Kingdom is the point. My success is not the point, nor is my need to take on the injustice of the world the point, but God's restoring work in the world, that I get to be part of, is the point.
So, I am still burdened by my failure to be perfect. I am still haunted by what could be if I could just work a bit harder and do a bit more and take on my next great challenge, and I should be. I am significant to this world and the skills and abilities I have matter, none of them should be abandoned, and I am not let off the hook to cease striving. Still all of those things are only part of the work of the Kingdom, and I am not the point, I am a participant.