Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The Verb "To Be"
“To be or not to be--that is the question” asks Hamlet... and that is indeed the question. But what does it really mean? What does it mean, “to be”?
I first became aware of the magnitude of this question while sitting in a Spanish class at El Camino College. We were going over our homework, an exercise on the two spanish verbs “to be”, ser verse estar. In spanish, one of the first things you learn is which verb “to be” to use. Ser is used in description, origin and time, as in “Yo soy Felicia” (I am Felicia); “Yo soy de Chicago” (I am from Chicago); “Es el martes, 23 de abril de 2013” (It is Tuesday, April 23, 2013). Estar is used in locations and conditions, as in “Yo estoy sentado en la mesa de la cocina” (I am sitting at the kitchen table); and “Yo estoy cansada esta manana” (I am tired this morning). :)
As I sat in class, listening to the instructor reviewing the rules for Ser vs. Estar, I had an epiphany. That “being” is far more complex than I had prievously imagined. That the state of being was important enough for an entire culture to desginate different words for various states of being, and that which word to use is determined by whether or not you, as an individual have the power to change your state of being. I am from Chicago, I can't change that therefore, yo soy de Chicago. I am sitting at the kitchen table, I can change that at anytime by moving, therefore yo estoy sentada en la mesa de la cocina. I am Felicia, I cannot change the essence of who I am (i.e., my history, my lineage, what I value, my likes, my dislikes, my personality, etc). All these things combine to make me uniquely “me” therefore yo soy Felicia. We are a recipe that has taken untold generations and combinations create. We do have choices of traits that we emphasis, but the very fact that we choose them is an indication of who we are... and of who's we are.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Christ is the only one who can change our nature and cause us to be something new. When we receive him in our hearts, we become “new creatures in Christ”, but even the desire to receive Christ has to connect with something that already exists within us. “Deep calls unto deep...” [Ps. 42:7], we have “an ear to hear” [Matt. 11:15], we then can receive Him in our hearts and then we can become something new... born again, but the desire “to be” fully was always there. We simply answer the call of that “still small voice” and we become fully God's children and not merely his creation. “For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'” [Acts 17:28]
I know this from my own personal experience. When I was a practicing Roman Catholic, as much as I loved the church and my faith, I knew there was “something” missing. I couldn't put my finger on it or articulate fully, but I knew there had to be something more. While visiting Love Fellowship Tabernacle and listening to Pastor Daryl Coley, who at the time was a family friend, I heard the altar call and it connected with something so deep within me, that I literally stepped on my mother's friend (accidently of course) to get to that altar. I HAD to get there. The depth that is God called to the deep that was within me... my deep need to know (gnosis) that God loved me, my deep need to feel whole and my deep need to no longer be sad, because depression was something that I had dealt with all of my life.
By going to that altar, and receiving Christ in my heart, I had been given the power to change my state of being, to change my “estar”, my condition, and to become the “ser” I was always intended to be from the beginning of time. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” [Ephesians 1:4] and was my beginning in really know what it means “to be”. Now, in Him I live and move and truly have my being.