“You know what it is? This place fosters our best selves.”
Ever since a good friend shared this wisdom, I have been reflecting not only on what the manifestation of my best self is, but also on what the dynamics are that encourage my best self.
In my experience, although it might not always be articulated as “best self,” there is often a cultural assumption that our faith communities are the kinds of places that foster and encourage folks to live into their best selves. What I have observed, is that this happens when every person and perspective is respected. This is reflected when fully engaging our Baptismal Covenant to “respect the dignity of every human being.” It also happens when people are encouraged and given space to discover their gifts and passions. Subsequently, opportunities are provided to grow and sharpen said gifts. Finally, people feel fully empowered to use their gifts with others, some in the faith community, but most in the larger community. When the synchronicity of all of this comes together, not only do individuals’ best selves emerge, but the community emerges healthier as well.
Conversely, when people do not feel valued, their opinions do not matter and they do not feel respected. Individuals’ best selves do not come forth. Folks do not feel encouraged and supported to discover, develop, and share their gifts. Consequently, we not only experience a mere fraction of what a person could be, but we are not creating space for all to live into the fullness God is calling them to be. And unfortunately, our faith communities end up being far from as fruitful as they could be.
All things are possible with God when we, our best selves, have a place to grow and flourish!