Saying that you “were born” implies that you originate from a source that gave birth to you. A source gave birth to you. In a materialistic, scientific worldview, the idea of “birth” focuses on the origin of the physical body and traces your body’s origin back to your parents and then backward genetically through a timeline of gene pools that contributed to your body’s genetic makeup. Then, according to science, the genes of your body – as influenced by your environment and your interactions with your environment – determine the development of your body. If all you are is a body, then that’s the whole story – cellular growth determined by genetic makeup and the influences of your environment as you experience being exposed to your environment, including the things you eat, the activities you undertake and the locations where you choose to be active. If all you are is a body, then having “an impact” is limited to your body’s presence, consumption of resources and production of output, if any, beyond waste products. That’s a pretty dismal view of a person’s life, value and impact.
However, it’s possible that you are not merely a body. It’s possible that your body’s brain does not entirely explain the mental activities you experience during your lifetime. It’s possible that you develop mentally on account of factors beyond the genetic makeup of your body and your interactions with your environment. Although your mental development may be heavily influenced by genetic makeup and environment, you may not be merely a product of your environment. You may have options beyond being a mere “product” rolling along a socially oriented assembly line to your final destination as a socially acceptable (popular and praised) or unacceptable (cast out and shamed) by-product of your social interactions. What if you do have options? What if there is more to the story than genetic makeup and social environment that helps your mind understand who you are? What if fully and completely answering the question “Who am I?” requires you to see yourself as more than a structurally arranged, unique set of cells engineered by genes and adapting to its environment?
Of course, you do not have to entertain possibilities beyond genes and environment in consider your nature and nurture. That is your choice. In fact, having that choice illustrates an aspect of you that cannot readily be explained by genes and environment. That aspect is your capacity to make choices. If you fully honor your capacity to make choices – your willpower – then you begin to experience yourself as much more than a by-product of genetically coded cells interacting with their environment. In fact, because our exercise of willpower opens doors to infinite possibilities, recognizing willpower as a valued dimension of human life invites us to see a greatly expanded meaning of “having an impact.” The greatest impact may be revealed in a lifetime of choices made that defy options and opportunities offered in our normal social environment because we reach for more creative options and opportunities that our mind allows us to imagine. I suggest that it is within the exercise of our imaginations as the source of our options that we will find the fuller meaning of being “born” and “having impact.”
My own life journey has taught me that my choices bring consequences. One of the most promising consequences proved to be that one choice may lead me to awareness of other options and opportunities I did not previously know existed. For example, making the choice to step beyond my comfort zone as a fence-sitter and avoider of conflict and controversy eventually led me step by step to encounter a progression of uncomfortable but educational environments in which my range of options and opportunities was more expansive, diverse and enriching than the range previously known to me. Had I remained too scared to explore this progression of uncomfortable but educational life experiences I would have remained ignorant of the greater possibilities of life and not encountered the Ultimate Source of Life personally. No matter how admirable my intentions might have been in investing myself strictly within my previous comfort zone, my growth as a person would have been stunted and I would have remained a fence-sitter, people-pleaser and conflict/controversy-avoider. And I would have remained a perfectionist out of fear of being criticized for mistakes that inevitably come with exploring wider environments where unimagined often unforeseen challenges and lessons remain to be encountered and mastered by faith.
More importantly, had I not grown more understanding and insightful and progressively wiser throughout the course of my journey, I would have continued to unwittingly inflict harm on others through my ignorance and well-intended foolishness. I would have misled many others into believing that what I said was true was true instead of encouraging them to risk taking their own journey of discovery as I had and learn what is true for themselves from the same Source. Having mistakenly crucified others on the cross of my own ignorance, I would have had to continue to cry out “God forgive me for I know not what I do.” Instead, having taken the risk of venturing beyond my comfort zones into zones of progressively less comfort, I have learned who I am, who the Source of Life from Whom I was born is and of the reality of my and all of humanity’s solidarity and oneness with the Source. As a result, I have learned to seek and receive the Source’s guidance as to what I do and how I do it in regard to every living being I encounter. Having learned the art of humility and surrendered my life to serving the Source, I am now more apt to actually cause the good I intend than ever I was before because I have learned to be the Source’s instrument for extending Source-defined, Source-provided good to others. I have learned to no longer rely upon my own ideas about what is “good” or trust in my own best intentions. Instead, I’ve learned to trust that the Source knows best — even when my own more limited mind still puzzles over how the Source’s ideas work. I do not pretend that the providence of miracles is mine to rule. In short, I’ve learned to no longer lean upon my own understanding.
It is true that I was born to have an impact. It is also true that my most helpful impact would have been stillborn had I allowed myself to remain trapped in the belief that I am essentially a body composed of cells engineered by genes and developed, molded and trained like some form of artificial intelligence through interactions with my environment. As tempting as it may be to conform one’s thinking to the popular ideas of one’s society, I encourage others to take the risk of deviating from those normative ideas and daring to encounter criticism as many bold explorers and thinkers have endured. Why? Because it is true that love endures all things — even the criticism of those not yet inclined to overcome their own fears and ignorance. The best way to prove that you are born as a being of love to share love with increasingly expansive impact is to discover that all you are is love no matter in what environment, subculture or social setting you may find yourself immersed and engaged from stage to stage along your journey — no matter how harsh the criticism may be.
Just as there is no limit to the capacity of the Source of Love to love there is no limit to your capacity to love because you were born with an enduring connection to your Source and can tap into infinite love flowing from your Source by exercise of your willpower. The willpower of the Source chose to give you the experience of being born with this enduring, unbreakable connection because the Source created you to be just like your Source, a spitting image of your Source but not a splitting image of It. Never are you split or separated from your Source. Never are you born to cause or perpetuate splits or separations to occur between you and your Source, you and anyone else or anyone and his or her Source. The Source of Life and Love for each of us is the same Source. We are all one with that Source – our Source, not yours, mine, his, hers or theirs but ours.
You were born to have an impact, too. No matter what distinctive details may emerge in your manifestation of love as you come into awareness of the Source of Love in your mind and heart, you are here to have an impact comparable to and compatible with mine. We are all here to help bind up heartache and other wounds and to heal relationships wherever we may travel. Whether our model of healing is Jesus who was born to have an impact that included healing broken hearts and restoring relationship between humanity and our Source or some other healing entity, our mission and purpose remain in line with the Source’s vision for all humanity to see ourselves as one loving community overflowing with love because we are connected to an infinite flow of love.
On March 4, 1865, following a great conflict that he was not able to avoid and ceasing to attempt to be a fence-sitter or people-pleasing politician, Abraham Lincoln said it this way:
“With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Towards this endlessly unfolding destiny I encourage all of us to strive together by faith in the Source who is ever faithful. Therein awaits the impact for which we were born — each individually and all collectively.
© Art Nicol 2016