Self Knowledge in Your Mid-life Spiritual Journey
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. Aristotle
In the “personality equilibrium” encounter we described
mid-life renewal to be synonymous to inner-freedom, peace
To read or review Personality Equilibrium, click here
“Mid-life is a process with many possibilities and
alternatives if we are willing to wait, explore,
search, consider, examine and trust…It’s a path
to discover…There is only one very important element…
We don’t force things to happen… Like the unfolding
of the leaves on a plant, or the butterfly from the
chrysalis, we only see the progress gradually… At
each step of the journey.” states Joyce Rupp, “we
slowly learn more about these vital aspects of our
life whether relationship, the meaning of life,
the meaning of who we are.”
In this time of questioning and soul searching, the
most difficult challenge is the patience to wait in
the unknown. “Surrender, yourself to the Lord, and
wait patiently for Him… Instead of trying harder you
Mid-life is the journey for self-rediscovery
St-Thomas the apostle stated:
“The one who knows everything else but does not know himself,
Self knowledge is the glue that links all the elements of
our personality together harmoniously. Where do we come from;
where do we stand; where are we going from here? I quote
Joyce Rupp, in her book entitled Dear Heart Come Home –
The Path of Midlife Spirituality p.16:
Gary Chapman, the author of Love as a Way of Life
guides us in his approach of self understanding, approach
that will summarize in these next few lines:
How well do you know the unique person that lives in your
We fear to discover things about ourselves with which we
are not pleased. Important transformations can be made with
acknowledgement and effort...but to do so, we must be aware
of it. Our emotions, desires, behaviors interpretations and
experiences are sources that teaches us a great deal about
who we are and about how we can improve in personal
growth and enhance self revelation in our intepersonal
relationships communication. I will elaborate about this
further in our encounter about communication.
To enhance self understanding:
Explore what enters through your senses:
We experience life through our 5 senses. We take this for
granted. Becoming much more aware of whatever comes into
your senses helps you to appreciate your abilities. Life
is filled with such experiences. (Ex.:The sound and beauty
of nature. The more we are in touch with our senses and
what comes in, the more you experience life.
Your belief system:
They are your guidelines of experiences. Interpretation
of your behavior are influenced by codes of conducts,
ideologies and experiences.
What are the meanings you give to experiences whether past
or present? What is the vision of your future?
Emotions are unique in each individual as no two people
will react the same way about a given situation or
experience. Emotions are not good or bad. They are strong,
positive or negative according to our code of values but
they are not bad. They just simply exist because we are
human beings. We will elaborate more fully about this as
we develop the theme of communication. One important note
Don't let them rule your life!
Re-examine your interpretations of situations instigating
those feelings - seek information. Question those feelings
and how they impact your behavior.
We all desire things...we are creatures of desire...but
remember that not all desires are of equal value:some
are good, some are selfish and some are evil. What are
the motives behind your desires? Refrain from feeding or
encouraging evil desires...You need to analyse those
Wholesome desires motivates us to action.
Behavior: the reality of choices we make
We are creatures of desires but also creatures of action.
"In response to our sensory experience with our feelings
and desires," says Pastor Gary Chapman, "we decide to
behave in certain ways."
Is your behavior positive, appropriate?
Is your behavior negative and hurtful?
You need to understand why you do the things you do.
Be aware of the:
interpretation of that experience
We call this self awareness for the purpose of
constructive and positive behavior.
Remember the following message:
Desires and feelings doesn't make the real you.
They must be integrated with intellect and will. Our mind
judges the wisdom of acting upon certain emotions and
our will carries out or decsions.
The way we think impacts, greatly influences the way we feel.
You think the best or the worst of a person or a
"Mid-life is more than a crisis. It's a summons to grow and
a challenge to change. It's a move to interiority, a passage
into deeper places where we discover our authenticity,
where we realize both our limitations and our grandeur.
It's here that we come home to our true self."
John Mombourquette, psychologist, in his book:
“How to Befriend Your Shadow- Welcoming your Unloved Side”
p.21 mentions, and I quote:
“A solid start in the spiritual life requires learning
to overcome your fears, examine your weaknesses,
revulsions and antipathies. Without deep and honest
self acceptance, the spiritual life rests on dangerous
Ouch! This is getting serious! Why is self knowledge and
acceptation so important?
In the spirituality awakening encounter, I introduced
egocentrism interfering into our journey into spirituality.
Jean Mombourquette, psychologist states how:
“Our ego clings us to people, to things, to our time,
to special places, not to mention our reputation and
opinions.” As a result, we become possessive and
independent. Our ego wants nothing less, than to control
and as a result of all this clinging we develop this
To review or read Spirituality and Egocentrism, click here
Albert Nolan takes us one step further in our understanding stating, and I quote:
“The ego is not my true self…All the divisions, conflicts
and rivalries between human beings, between human and the
rest of nature rise out the ego’s illusion of separateness
and independence from the rest of the world. We become
In the spiritual journey to self-knowledge, there’s an
element of letting go, of trust, of self-confiding and
“We must learn to develop a greater – more universal and
more evolved sense of self – not by fighting against
anything in us that is natural - but by developing an
other greater longing, the nature desire for unity,
community, oneness and love.”
In order to reach this objective, we must learn to
surrender; we must learn to let go this need of control.
This is the secret…
Rick Warren – author of The Purpose Driven Life-What
on earth am I here for? elaborates this very well, and
What surrendering is not!
It does not mean giving up rational thinking,
suppressing your personality”. God created you with
an intelligence and a unique personality. Surrending,
implies a relationship of loving trust or confidence...
Develop a friendship with God...In a true friendship,
there's this element of love, trust and openness doesn't it?
You’re never out of the All Mighty’s sight. He knows you
inside out, from the top of your head to the tips of your
toes. He knows your challenges and struggles; He as loving
plans for your life.
“Surrendering is not a passive resignation, fatalism or an
excuse for laziness. It may be the exact opposite…accepting
the necessary sacrifices in order to change whatever in you
needs to be changed.” This can be a battle at times.
“Surrendering can be a call to welcome the All Mighty’s will
over yours… knowing and trusting that is plan is best for
your mid-life spiritual journey.
If you chose not to surrender to God, sure enough you will
surrender to other things or persons and ideologies. (ex.:
opinion, persons, even your ego, to negative feelings… The
consequences will be yours to encounter...which can sometimes
be chaos. Look and hear...chaotic situations arrive on a
daily basis. Look in our families, pay attention to some
situations you would give the world to change, if the
possibility was given - situations that most likely could
have been avoided if we had learned to surrender to the
All Mighty's Will rather than yours for the same of pleasure,
pride or need of control. We all have a history of
situations to illustrate this.
Surrender everything to the All Mighty gives you peace.
Surrender strengthens you; it doesn’t weaken you. You don’t
have to worry about anything as you trust that He has the
situation into His hands and under control. He sees the
big picture.He will surely inspire you and guide you at the
According to Rich Warren:
“surrender is not the best way to live;
it is the only way to live.
Nothing else works.”
Take a pause for meditation:
In your period of soul searching, trying to understand
where you come from and where you are going, I invite you
to meditate psalm 23 (The Good Shepherd) with this
particular thought in mind from Joyce Meyer and if you can
try an act of surrendering all your concerns in the hands
of our Good Shepherd.
“Hope is the force that keeps us steady in a time
of trial. Don’t ever stop hoping. Don’t be afraid.
I can’t promise you that things will always turn out
exactly the way you want them to. I can’t promise that
you’ll never be disappointed. But, even in disappointing
times, if they do come, you can hope and be positive.
Put yourself in God’s miracle-working realm. Expect a
miracle in your life. Expect good things!
Nothing instigates more insecurity than the darkness of the
unknown...We become nervous and impatient. Yet, the answers
come during this difficult period of stagnancy in our life.
In the winter everything seems dead and silent, while in
reality, its the time of rest in preparation for new blossoms
In these situations, music can be a source of inspiration
and encouragement. The lyrics of this song from John Denver
entitled Sweet Surrender summarizes the mid-life
crisis and the desperate need of surrender. I couldn't find
better words to conclude our encounter. It was and still is
a support and an inspiration in my struggles of life -
understanding and journeying through mid-life; I would like
for you to hear it or read it. (which ever you prefer)
Hopefully, it could inspire you.
Lost and alone on some forgotten highway
Travelled by many remembered by few
Looking for something that I can believe in
Looking for something that I’d like to do with my life
There’s nothing behind me and nothing that ties me
To something that might have been true yesterday
Tomorrow is open and right now it seems
To be more than enough to just be here today
And I don’t know what the future is holding in store
I don’t know where I’m going, I’m not sure what I think
There’s a spirit that guides me a light that shines for me
My life is worth the living, I don’t need to see the end.
Sweet, sweet surrender
Live, live without care
Like a fish in the water
Like a bird in the air. (sung 2X)
by John Denver
Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the
most difficult lesson in the world. Miguel de Cervantes
Battlefield of the Mind –
Winning the Battle in Your Mind
by Joyce Meyer,
Copyright © 1995 P.O Box 655 Fenton,
Missouri 63026 p.53
The Purpose Driven Life –
What on earth am I here for?
by Rich Warren , Zondervan.
Copyright © 2002
Nana Mouskouri - l’incomparable
for the lyrics of the song Sweet Surrender
A Spirituality of Radical Freedom
by Albert Nolan,
Orbis Books Maryknoll,
New York 10545 Copyright 2006
How to Befriend Your Shadow –
Welcoming Your Unloved Side –
by John Mombourquette, Novalis Darton . Longman+ Todd
St Paul University, Ottawa, Canada.
Dear Heart Come Home –
The Path of Midlife Spirituality
by Joyce Rupp
The Crossroad Publishing Company
16 Penn Plaza,481Eighth Avenue,
New York, N.Y 10001Copyright
Love as a Way of life by Gary Chapman,
New York ; Toronto : Doubleday, c 2008.