Knowing Yourself

by Marie Almeter

As a registered nurse for 38 years, I worked in a variety of jobs, practically every department in the old St. Joseph’s Hospital. I learned how to do head-to-toe assessments on patients: listening to their heart, lungs, bowel sounds, checking all extremities for pulses and circulation, color and asking questions. I got to where I could do it with my eyes closed. When I had to leave St. Joseph’s due to downsizing, I took a job on an inpatient locked psychiatric unit at Augusta University. I had never worked psych in my life and had very little experience with it since nursing school.

The one thing that intrigued me was the psychiatric assessment. While it included assessing all body systems, it also had a little box to check concerning the mentally ill patient which said – insight. Every patient admitted had that little box checked as poor personal insight. I thought about it over and over as I learned my way around this new area. Why were all these people admitted with the same lack of personal insight? Many had attempted suicide, were addicted to alcohol or drugs; some had a mental health diagnosis like personality disorder or depression. But everyone had poor personal insight. They could not accept the reality of their behavior. For many of them, the things the world told them would make them happy came crashing down around them. They had tried all of them and hurt themselves and a lot of others in the process.

It got me very interested in my own degree of personal insight. How did I see myself? What patterns in my own life were like those of my patients? The only way to look at this without being scared out of my mind is with prayer and trusted friends in a committed community. I have been reading the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero, which has really helped me in looking at my own life, patterns of behavior, insecurities and choices I have made. With the help of this book, I’m slowly finding my way, learning to let go of a lot of power and control in my life and cling to Jesus, and learning to just be quiet and sit before God the Father and let Him do His work in me. I used to start my prayer time with a lot of wordiness, Scripture reading, devotionals, intersessions, podcast, etc.; now I’m just lost in His presence. Those things are more an assist with my prayer life, and silence with God is the crux of my prayer life. Not knowing myself has been an obstacle to knowing who God is and the true freedom that comes from no longer needing to be somebody of importance in other’s eyes because I am known and loved by God

The following is a little taste of the examination I have used on myself from Scazzero’s book.

1. Pride: I tend to condemn others easily and become impatient with their faults, while cutting myself lots of slack; I mean “look at all of my suffering.” I am very selective about who can teach me or who I can learn something from. This is sort of looking down at others and judging them (major pride there).

2. Avarice: I am not content with the spirituality God has given me, so I busy myself doing “spiritual” things rather than growing in poverty of spirit and the interior life

3. Luxury: I take more pleasure in the blessings of God than God Himself, kind of like a spoiled teenager who doesn’t see the loving devoted parent behind the gift.

4. Wrath: I am easily irritated and don’t have the sweetness of spirit and patience to wait on God. Like Baruka in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “I want it now, God, why are you doing this to me?”

5. Spiritual gluttony: I resist the cross and choose pleasures like a child does.

6. Spiritual envy: I feel unhappy when others are doing well spiritually, I’m always comparing instead of being content with what God is doing with me, and I must tell everyone of my discontent. As Joyce Meyer says, “I run to the phone (or Instagram or Facebook or Twitter), instead of the throne.”

7. Sloth: I run from that which is hard; I want one foot in the world and one out; I want spiritual sweetness and good feelings and acceptance by my worldly friends. Along with all this, I have done a family genogram just to look at things from generations before me that could be affecting my current life. Is it scary and painful? Yep. But as Peter Scazzero says, “Every disciple has to look at the brokenness and sin in his own family and culture. Family patterns from our past can be played out in our present relationships without our necessarily being aware of it.” I encourage you to examine your own life. God is the one who leads us through our journey toward healthy spirituality. Don’t be in a rush; let the Holy Spirit do His work. You on your part must be willing to invest the time. I’d like to close with another quote from Scazzaro: “Our greatest temptation will be to quit or go backward, but if we remain still, listening for His voice, God will insert something of Himself into our character that will mark the rest of our journey with Him.”