Why are we here in this life? The answer is as simple as this: to transcend ourselves.
First, what does it mean to transcend ourselves?
a.) To transcend means to rise above, go beyond, overpass, or exceed.
b.) To transcend ourselves means to act differently in the present moment – in a more positive way – than we would have in the past.
1) It is begun when we act in alignment with the truths we have been taught.
2) It is manifest when we finally overcome that which we have struggled with for so long.
3) It is realized and finally recognized when we find ourselves teaching others how to overcome the same things which we have passed through.
c.) To transcend ourselves means that we have finally felt the reality of forgiveness in our lives, that peace can be restored to our souls. This will only occur as we change our lives and seek forgiveness for the mistakes of our past – from others, from ourselves, and from our God. Teaching others is the culminating virtue of repentance.
Second, how have I learned this?
Several years ago, a friend called and asked if we could talk. He was and is an amazing man, more full of love than anyone I have ever met. As we talked I learned that he was struggling in his relationship with his wife. It troubled him to his core. They’d been married for several years, and had been fighting and arguing more than usual. At this point he began questioning if he had done the right thing by marrying her, or if he was the best person for her to be happy with. His words brought tears to his eyes.
After sharing this, my friend paused and asked me what I was thinking.
I’ve made many bad decisions over the course of my life. I will be the first one to admit that I am not perfect in any way, shape, or form. But it is from some of those bad decisions that I learned the most amazing lessons – lessons that changed my life forever.
So when my friend asked me this, several stories from my life came to mind, and I began to share them with him. One one of the things I shared, in particular, was what I consider the biggest mistake of my life up to this point.
These stories, plus the time we shared together, were enough to change my friend’s perspective on his marriage. Realizations that came to him caused his tears of pain, fear, and uncertainty to turn into tears of joy, peace, and gratitude. He had heard what he needed to hear, seen what he needed to see, and understood what he needed to understand.
However, in sharing my observations – which I learned by virtue of bad choices made throughout my life – I relived many of the emotions associated with them. The shame, anxiety, regret, and sadness that accompanied the initial bad decisions revisited my heart, and I began to see myself as less than I was. The feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty my friend had felt were now duplicated within me.
But, being the wise man that he is, my friend looked at me – both of us were now crying – and said something that I will never forget.
“Dan, don’t beat yourself up. When you can finally teach someone else the lessons you learned because of your bad choices, you can know that you’ve finally been forgiven for what you did. What you’ve done here is beautiful. You’ve taught me from your experience. When you can teach someone something like that – something that you’ve learned from the mistakes of your past – then those mistakes no longer have any hold on you. You are free, and you are forgiven. You have transcended the mistakes.”
In the years since that conversation, I have thought much about what my said that day. There I was to comfort him, and in the end he comforted me and helped me find peace again.
We can transcend ourselves. We can find peace. We can rise above the weaknesses of our lives, and soar like the eagles – confidently moving upon the winds which surround us.
The bad news is that we all have weaknesses, and we will sometimes fall. Each of us will make bad choices and will have to live with the resulting consequences.
The silver lining amidst it all is that there is hope. We can feel peace again. We can be made whole and move forward in our lives. We can transcend ourselves and move onward and upward into a brighter day.
When we can help others overcome, pass through, and learn from the things we have experienced, we unlock the key to our own freedom.
When we can teach or help another pass through the lessons we’ve learned from our mistakes, then we will know that we have finally transcended those things. And, in like manner, we transcend ourselves again and again.
Will you commit to transcend yourself today? What will you change? Who will you help?