Who am I? This is a  soul question. Young people struggle with this mightily as they seek to sort out their unique identity apart from their parents. The question gets accentuated as the attraction of the social groups increases. Frequently the identity claimed by a young person is shaped more by a peer group than simply grounded in a clear self-definition.

But, the problem of self does not disappear when the person has chosen another social group to affirm what they like about themselves at a particular point in life. The spiritual journey of soul is an ongoing life process. Social groups are so powerful that it is often hard to keep one's unique understanding and values distinguished from those of any given group. Keeping clear one's enduring values that reflect one's character requires continual value clarification.

This is done in the internal debate that the multiple values inside of us wage. We want to be unique and distinctive at the same time we want to belong to a group of others like us. We want to be loved and commit ourselves to care for and with others and at the same time, we want the freedom to do what we want. We want both companionship and solitude.

The soul work we each do in our daily spiritual disciplines of deciding is to determine which of the conflicting values seems most appropriate at any given time. We have to chose between the claims of the heart for self-care and pleasure or other-care and the pleasure we get from giving love to others.

Fortunately, this is part of what makes life such an adventure. Unfortunately, this is what makes it so hard to always get it right. Or maybe that is a fortunate consequence of the spiritual struggle. It makes us all humble and thus open to others who are making daily choices as well.  And that humility enhances the depth of community.  That community of humility and grace is a gift.