“Who Am I”

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I suspect that anyone who has ever lived has asked, “Who am I”. For some, this pursuit can last a lifetime and never be satisfied. For others, we eventually settle into a comfortable existence and just accept, as it were, “it is what it is”. And for some. . . that quest is fulfilled through an epiphany.

As you well know by now, this blog is dedicated to reaching out to the families of those who are incarcerated. I am trying to bridge the gap between the incarcerated and the loved one(s) left behind by affording insight through the eyes of a rescued soul. (That would be me:)

I had such an epiphany and consider myself blessed beyond measure having had it. But the road to enlightenment was filled with sorrow, loss and pain. Though all of us certainly do not hoe the same row, we all share one thing in common. . . we are all entombed in a body of decay, and one day we will all face our own mortality. I am not trying to be morbid, just facing the facts.

But, in the middle of our journey from life to death, we live! It is here, in life’s pursuit, that we have the opportunity to discover who we really are.I would like to share with you an except from, “Remember the Prisoners: He came to Set the Captives Free”.

We exit the womb desiring to love and to be loved. It’s the way we were designed to immediately seek out where we came from and connect to it. For boys and girls, it’s different in how we seek it and the impact it has on our lives when those desires are or aren’t met. Both sexes form special bonds with either parent. Both seek and receive their identity from the love and affection they get from either parent.

In most cases, young boys learn that mom is where we go when we get hurt, where a comforting word and embrace can be given. We also learn through time that a mother’s love can be manipulated to our benefit. Moms usually let you get away with all kinds of stuff, and they are quick to forgive and always accept you back into her good graces, which teaches us that being selfish is not only okay but also an entitlement.

Fathers, on the other hand, are not so soft, comforting, or forgiving. But for boys, this is where we seek and get our identity. A boy looks to his father to instruct him and teach him who he is and how he should act. Whether good or bad, the propensity for a boy to emulate his father’s every action is present and could manifest adversely. For example, if a boy sees his father abuse his mother, he may in turn abuse his own mother or wife. He may have little or no value for women and expect women to serve him. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but the possibility is there. A girl looks to her mother for her identity, although a father’s presence and influence will shape her self-worth.

So take care how you conduct yourself in front of your children, for they are watching and learning, looking to you for direction, whether good or bad.

I will share with you my personal example. As I’ve stated before, I’m half white and half Mexican. For my father, I think the impact of racial prejudice he experienced as a child growing up left a residue on his marriage and in how he treated me. When he attended school, there was still segregation: whites in one classroom and Mexicans and people of color in another. They weren’t allowed to speak Spanish at school, or swift penalties were incurred, namely a good crack of a ruler across the mouth or any exposed area. So perhaps this contempt he endured promoted a root of bitterness he may have fostered, maybe unconsciously, maybe consciously. I’m not sure, but it definitely affected how he looked at me.

Since I was his firstborn, I should have received a focused commitment—you know, a proud father’s special attention to his mini me. But that wasn’t the case. He distanced himself from me and starved me of the one thing I needed most: love. Not that he didn’t love me in some remote definition of the word, but the close, secure connection that I belonged to him and the sense that he would always protect me from whatever wasn’t there. Lies and ridicule replaced promise and praise. I could never do anything right, and his words were sharp and cut deep. He drank continually and was a mean drunk. To his credit, he worked every day with all the overtime he could get, so in that sense he was a very good provider. But monetary provision meets only the basic physical needs of humanity. So I don’t know what’s worse: not having a father at all or having one that isn’t really there.

So I began to build a wall brick by brick: insecurity, resentment, vain conceit, fear, doubt, mistrust, unbelief, selfishness, pride. I built this wall up until I couldn’t see out and no one could see in. No one would be able to see the scared little boy crouching in the corner and crying, longing for his father to come find him, hold out his hand, and lead him back home where it was safe. So left alone behind my wall of shame, I built my own false identity, taking broken pieces of my heart to build a new one no one could hurt.

As you all my gather, the epiphany had not yet occurred. I am simply proposing, that many of us are still living behind a wall of shame and are in desperate need of rescue. Folks who have crossed the lines of socially accepted behaviors find themselves paying a high price, and so they should. But, these poor choices come from somewhere. Not having an identity can create a multitude of problems that could lead to catastrophic consequences, even suicide. (There I go being morbid again.)

All I am saying is that this lack of identity leaves us empty, unfulfilled, and sometimes locked up, or worse. An understanding of who we really are and what our purpose is in life, (an epiphany) can and will transform, permanently, the lost and wayward soul. Everyone has an epiphany designed just for him or her, their very own, personal revelation. Not the one we make up behind our wall of shame, I mean the real one. Have you had yours?

May the God of all comfort grant you your epiphany in Jesus Mighty name! Amen. God bless.

Rev. Joaquin R. Larriba

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