In his book Crazy Loco Love, Victor Villaseñor writes about a conversation between himself and his father on the eve of his 16th birthday.
We walked across the grass and past the barn and corrals to the big old pepper tree…I’d been playing underneath this tree since I was a child, and I’d helped slaughter and hang and butcher hundreds of steers in its limbs.
“Son,” my dad said to me, “in a few days you will have your own driver’s license and be driving your own car.”
“Truck, papa. Pickup truck,” I said.
I was excited about the truck I was getting. It was a 1956 Chevy my dad let me pick it out at the Chevy dealership in downtown Oceanside. It cost a fortune - $1,300.
“Okay, mijo, a pickup truck,” said my dad to me, “but the point I want to make is this, you are no longer a boy. You are a man now, and to be un hombre, a man must not only know right from wrong, he must also know who he is and who he isn’t. Because if a man doesn’t know who he is and who he isn’t, then no matter how much he knows about right and wrong, he will always be like a fish out of water.
…Do you understand? Am I making sense?”
Suddenly, my gift, the new Chevy pickup – a beaming turquoise – didn’t quite seem as important or exciting to me. What my dad was telling me was kind of scary…
The more I have thought about this conversation, the more I agree with the advice.
What is it that made Kind David such a great king? Was it his victory over Goliath? Possibly. I suspect that it had more to do with self-awareness. When he got caught in a sexual affair he owned his mistake – he knew who he was. Then he turned to God – he knew who he wasn’t, and asked God to create in him a new heart.
Or, have you ever wondered what the difference was between Peter and Judas? Peter denied Jesus three times and Judas betrayed Jesus. Both men committed friendship suicide. In the end Judas killed himself and Peter ran back to Jesus at the first opportunity. Peter knew who he was and who he was not; Judas didn’t have a clue.