Having visited the Pali on Oʻahu several times I often wondered what the Oʻahu warriors felt who were cornered at the cliffs by Kamehameha? What was it like to realize they had a terrible choice to make, either embracing a demeaning fate of subjugation or embracing death. Neither would have felt good.
Today’s culture teaches us that if something makes us feel bad about ourselves then we should not only avoid that reality but we must avoid it so that we can continue to feel good about ourselves. As a result many avoid any knowledge about themselves that disquiets them. The problem with this approach to life’s upsetting input is that we cannot grow up through avoidance. This emphasis on feeling good about ourselves is a surefire way to remain immature. You mean to tell me that the Northeast Chainsaw Murderer should feel good about himself? Most sane people would automatically say that he needs to change and become good and stop worrying about feeling good about himself. And that difference is the road we must all be willing to travel in order to come into our maturity.
It is normal to not want to feel bad about ourselves. However we need to change how we view upsetting self-revelations. Feeling bad about ourselves is actually a moment of grace, a moment in which we get a glimpse of those personal issues which keep tripping us up! That insight can give us some clarity about ourselves. We can only grow into who we should be when we are willing to see what is preventing that growth right now, no matter how that makes us feel. Whatever we run from becomes what pursues us. Part of growing up is to stop running, to look under the bed and to confront the boogeyman even if doing so makes us feel afraid! It has been said that the difference between a coward and a courageous person is that the coward runs because he feels fear and the courageous person faces the terror in spite of feeling the fear!
When I ponder my move to the Big Island in June of 2019 there are moments when I am uncomfortably unsure of how it will all turn out. However I had the same question when leaving my monastery 11 years ago! Despite that original trepidation God has graced me with wonderful new relationships and experiences! The most profound realization has been that Hawaii is where my pilgrimage is leading me! Boogeymen… come out and be banished!