Make the Gift Be Known
By Neale Walsch
You Are Who You Think You Are. You Are Your Own Thoughts About Yourself, Made Manifest.
One of the things that fascinates me the most when I consider my life prior to the last ten or eleven years is how much I allowed what others thought about me to shape my own ideas about myself-and hence, my own experience of myself.
I never cease to be amazed by how much of my life I “gave away” in this way. My thoughts of what others thought about me ruled my life. This was especially true in the early years of my life. I mean my early childhood years.
I can remember how much it hurt me when my older brothers (I was the youngest of four boys) said bad things about me. I was devastated. I would go to my room and cry. Then they had even more bad things they could say. They could say I was “too sensitive,” and taunt me about being a “cry baby.”
My mother did all she could to get me to “pay no attention” to what they said. I tried to say back to them, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” but you know what? It was all a big, fat lie. Words did hurt me. Plenty. And I didn’t know how to get around it. So, rather than change how I felt about the words that others spoke about me, I decided that what I had to do was change the words that they spoke.
My job in life, I figured, was to stop people from saying bad things about me. And the only way I knew how to do that was to change me. So I went around trying to change myself. Not to suit me, but to suit the fancy of others.
I did this not for a short time, but for most of the years of my life. We all want other people to like us (and we hope that some of them will love us), and so I decided that what I had to do was figure out what other people did not like about me and abandon that. Then I could notice what people did like about me (when I was a child, there didn’t seem to be much), and give them more of that.
Thus began my personal process of Behavior Adjustment-or behavior modification, as the social scientists would call it. I modified my behavior to suit the tastes and whims and proclivities of others. The only problem with this was that each person or group that I encountered had different tastes, whims and proclivities, and so I went around constantly having to adjust my adjustments. I was continually changing Who I Am, constantly reinventing myself in order to “fit in” wherever I happened to be.
This wasn’t so difficult when I was a small boy, because my circle of acquaintances and the list of places in which I would daily find myself were relatively small. But as I grew older and found myself expanding my life experiences as all young people eventually do, I discovered that the process of individualizing myself to meet the requirements of the moment was not a process of individualizing myself at all, but of disappearing myself.
The “real me” was gone. Long since gone. Gone so long that I often had no idea of who or what that was. I didn’t know how to be the “real me” because the Adjusted Me had been adjusted so many ways to meet so many contingencies (I was bound and determined never again to be rejected by anyone) that I completely lost track of what my own preferences were, what my own predilections were, what my own personality was.
People would accuse me of acting “phony,” of not being “myself,” and this would hurt me even more deeply. How could I win? I wondered. What did the world want!
The world did not seem to want the Adjusted Me, and it certainly didn’t want the Real Me (whatever that was), so what did it want? That was the question of the day.
Does any of this sound familiar? Even a little bit?
I think that most people at some point in their life suffer at least a little bit of an “identity crisis.” Maybe I’m wrong about this, but that has been my observation. And I think the identity crisis comes from not being able to fully accept ourselves.
It is difficult for many people to accept themselves as who they are right now. For me, the trick was to first accept myself as who I would like to be. This is, I discovered, the road to mastery.
The first step in this process was coming up with an image of myself, an idea of myself not as I think I am right now (there’s too much garbage to get out of the way), but as who I would like to be if I thought I could be something other than my present Self.
This is not something that I had ever seriously considered. I thought that I was “stuck” with the “me” that I am. But Conversations with God changed all that for me. It told me that the purpose of all of life is to recreate itself anew in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever it held about itself. That is our purpose, too. We get to recreate ourselves anew in every single golden moment of Now.
Whoa. You mean that I can literally make myself over?
YES! says God. Right here, right now.
This, for me, was the great liberation. I began to draw up a sketch of myself in my mind, an idea of who I would be if I actually had a choice about it. It was then that I realized how much of the Self that I already was, was just right for me.
I received a piece of wisdom that shocked me.
“Consider the possibility,” I was told, “that every ‘fault’ you imagine you have is nothing more than your greatest gift, with the volume turned up too loud. It is the same thing that people love in you, but with just a little too much energy behind it.”
I was given examples.
“People may say that you are too much of a ‘take charge’ guy, that you overpower the rest of the room. Yet when they want someone to step to the line, to make a decision, to speak eloquently and powerfully for the group, to whom do they turn?
“People may say that you are irresponsible, that you act without thinking, that fools jump in where angels fear to tread and that you are one of those fools. But when they want someone to spontaneously create something out of nothing, to get things moving in the face of overwhelming odds, to whom do they turn?
“People may say that you are too much of a “workaholic,” that you constantly make yourself busy and have no time for them. Yet when they want and need desperately to get something done and done well, to whom do they turn?”
This insight was life-changing for me. It was like a light bulb going off. I suddenly felt a great weight of self-disapproval being lifted.
I learned that by simply modulating the energy of all the Good Stuff that is Me, I could meld my personal energy into the moment at hand in a way that enhanced that moment for all those experiencing it.
This was not about changing, throwing away, or denying any parts of me-which was what I had been trying desperately to do. This was simply about using all the parts of me in a different way. This was about moving through life with more sensitivity to the time and the place and the way in which my gift was being offered.
From that moment on I opened my receptors and began “listening to the moment.” I listened for clues as to which part of me-and how much of that part-would serve the moment best. The more I listened, the more obvious those clues became. I began to wonder how I’d ever missed them. And I began to give the Gift of Me in ways that were far more appropriate to the moment, far more in harmony with what was going on.
This changed everything for me. I created a new thought about myself. The recreated me could be the same me as the old me, simply more sensitized, more aware, more tuned in.
So now we come full circle to the wisdom from CwG which opened this sharing. “You are your own thoughts about yourself, made manifest.” I have found that to be profoundly true.
If you are not happy with the you that you are now experiencing, think a new thought about yourself. Yet know that this new thought, this new idea of who you are, does not have to be a rejection of who you have always been. The process of recreating yourself anew does not have to involve self-abandonment. It is not about abandoning, it is about enlarging.
Like the tree outside your window, every day you become a larger version of what you always were. You never were anything but a gift, and a great gift at that. Now that you understand this, you find ways to give your gift that make the gift be known.
That has become one of my mantras.
“Make the Gift be known.”
When I say that mantra to myself in the most crucial, the most stressful, the most delicate and important moments of my life, I become the Gift that I am. This is what is meant by “transformation.”
That is the point that Christ was making with his whole life. And that is why he said, at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me.” He wanted to give us a ritual, a way of remembering, not only who he is, but who we are.
This is a startling new way to think of the religious doctrine of transubstantiation. When you “make the Gift be known,” when you become the Gift that you are, the body of you becomes the body of God. You become God made manifest.
Life is the Mass, and you are the Eucharist.