Meditation written by Cathy Tamsberg.
Read by Felicia Roper.
In a fascinating book about introversion entitled Quiet, author Susan Cain describes a transition we Americans have experienced in the last 100 years. Citing the work of cultural historian Walter Susman, Cain explains that prior to the 20th century, Americans promoted a Culture of Character in which the ideal person was serious, disciplined, and honorable. What counted was not as much the impression you made in public as how you behaved in private. But a new culture thrives today, often to our detriment. During the last century, the focus shifted from inner character to external perception and Americans began to focus on performance and self-presentation. Our country now embraces a Culture of Personality, a word that didn’t exist in English until the 18th century.
The Industrial Revolution, urbanization, and other historical developments contributed to this transition from a focus on what’s on the inside of a person to what is perceived from the outside. The result is a culture fixated on personality and how each of us is perceived by others. Not all of this change is bad, of course, but this cultural ideal of a “performing self” has pushed introverts and extroverts alike into the adoption of ways of being in the world that too often fail to reflect our truest selves.
The purpose of an inward journey in Lent or at any other time is to peel back the layers of culture and presentation to find one’s true self—to listen to one’s heart, to be truly honest, and to open ourselves in order to hear God’s heart speaking to our own. The Holy One is not looking for a performance. We are loved as we are completely and eternally. This doesn’t mean there aren’t ways we relate to loved ones and strangers alike that need attention. We all have work to do. But know today that you are loved as you are. No fabricated persona is required. The One to whom Jesus pointed throughout his ministry and even from the cross cares deeply for the real you.
This meditation is from “Lent: Sowing Season, Holy Time,” a collection of daily readings by Associate Pastor Cathy Tamsberg. Each day during Lent, from Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013, to Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, a new excerpt read by a member of the Pullen congregation will be made available. To hear each day’s reading as it is published, subscribe to Pullen’s RSS feed, or listen to the podcast in iTunes.