After an exhausting weekend of work, I went in my room to lie down for a nap. Right when I got settled and quiet, I heard a fly. Of course it was one of those small annoying ones that somehow seem louder than the big ones. I didn’t have my glasses on and couldn’t see very well, so I had a difficult time determining exactly where it was in the room. As I got more annoyed, I laughed to myself at how ridiculous I probably looked, trying to find a fly with no glasses. Then I stopped because I was really hoping it was a fly and not something else, but I couldn’t see well enough to tell the difference . . . Eventually I saw a tiny blur, found my glasses, and immediately felt a sense of relief because I could clearly see it was a fly, it was small, and I knew exactly where it was.
It may sound like a pointless story, something that’s not even worth remembering that many details. I mean really, if I thought it was a tiny fly, why bother even paying attention to it and going through all the trouble?
But how often do we do this in our spiritual life? How often do we let little sins and vices and insecurities buzz around without giving them any attention? How often do we ignore them and say to ourselves, “Oh, it’s just [blank] and it’s not that big of a deal. I’ll deal with it later”? Sometimes the only phrase that accurately describes my spiritual life is, “as clear as mud.” I need to get to confession, repent, clear my heart and mind, and actually get to the source of all my little blurry, annoying insects.
Self-knowledge is like a pair of glasses. It allows us to actually see the truth of what’s going on in our hearts, our minds, our souls . . . In fact, trying to grow spiritually without self-knowledge is like trying to drive a car without a map or your glasses (or kill a fly you can’t really see) – you have no clear sense of where you are, where you’re going, or how to get there. It’s only through prayer and reflection that we steadily gain a better understanding ourselves, and that requires a level of humility. All these pieces contribute to one another – prayer to self-knowledge, self-knowledge to humility, humility to self-knowledge and prayer, etc. St. Paul talked about this when he said, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith” (2 Cor. 13:5).
In the constant buzz of our culture, it’s important that we don’t neglect Scripture, silence/reflection, and prayer. If we don’t know ourselves, how are we ever going to change?