The Book of Genesis is the story of extended differentiation. And it’s the story of us.
That is, it’s the story of moving from oneness—the unformed void, wind over waters—to a world of created things. Of birds and beasts, humans and trees. Of differentiating ourselves from our family, becoming our own people. Of leavetaking into the unknown in order to become who we need to be.
It’s the story of making mistakes—sometimes horrible mistakes—at the expense of the people closest to us. In the messy process of trying to live what we think is our destiny and unwittingly doing damage in the process. Sometimes it’s about the hard, painful work of repair. Sometimes it’s the story of how scars get passed on to the next generation, the story of collateral damage.
Genesis is about trying to grow into ourselves, and how hard and painful that can be. And what’s possible when we do the work.
In order to be useful to a world in need of healing, we need to come into our own. And that means understanding who we are—and who we aren’t. It means working on our pain and baggage so that we don’t unconsciously dump it on other people or let it interfere with the tasks at hand. It means reckoning with our personal history and our family history, and trying to make peace with the mistakes that have shaped us.
When we face the ways in which we’ve been shaped by our family of origin, and when we learn to confront our own darknesses and unhelpful ways of being, we become clearer and less reactive. We are able to see the situation in front of us in a more expansive way. We are braver, more thoughtful, more able to see what of the work that needs to be done is ours to do.
It means learning how to differentiate—to see how we must become ourselves, separate from the many things that created us, that continue to create us. It’s about setting boundaries, yes. And not letting the unformed void within be in the driver’s seat when we make decisions, yes. But more than that. It’s about the moment when we say, let there be light. Our own light. It’s about that moment when we finally give ourselves permission to shine.
In some ways, this differentiation is a lifelong process—one that can happen concurrent to other types of work in the world. But it must be undertaken with intentionality and seriousness. And there may be times when focusing inward, rather than outward, may be a worthwhile investment to help us level up so that we can better live out our obligations in the wider world.
If we want to change what's happening out there, we need to do be willing to do some hard inner work to engender a more personal transformation. We are useful to a world desperately in need of healing when we take up our tasks with more self-awareness, closer to wholeness. Our spiritual power comes from doing painstaking excavation inside the dark, gnarly corners of the heart.
It's not an easy, or simple process.
But I believe in you.
We will do this work, together.