Know thyself. This well-known Latin aphorism is tossed about as if it is easy to know your own self if you would just choose to do so. Knowing who you are, of course, must start with the choice to pursue the knowing. Or, at the very least, being forced into facing yourself due to unavoidable circumstances.
Such forced knowing is depicted in the 1985 film The Breakfast Club. Here we meet five teens from different cliques sent to Saturday detention for various infractions. The principal tells them they are to sit and think about their actions, and then write a reflective essay detailing what they’ve learned about themselves and life. Throughout the day, as the students interact, they are forced into this know thyself crucible. The Johari window is taking shape as the students learn the truth about each other and how others see them.
As iconic as The Breakfast Club is in this regard, it only scratches the surface. It’s that first step (or push) in the pursuit, so to speak. It takes more than just one day in detention to discover the deep things about ourselves. In David Benner’s The Gift of Being Yourself, he proposes:
There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self, and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God. (22)
This means that introspection and the Johari window will only take us so far. We need more than introspection: We need revelation. Without divine help, we will never know the incredible complexity of our own souls. The next steps come when we seek to know God, for our Creator knows us better than anyone. Knowing Him, we come to know His loving intent for us; in knowing ourselves, we come to know our need for Him.
Choosing to know thyself is to acknowledge everything that’s true and real about who we are—even the things that aren’t so great, even the places we play the zombie, simply going through the motions. This is the true you and me that God knows and loves.