Each of us is different- a lone, unique, individual in a vast sea of different individuals. Some smart ankle put as “You are special and unique, just like the other six-and-a-half billion people in this world!” This, in itself, makes us feel a little insecure, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why people living in big, dense, populations seem to either carefully conform to the “norm” or go out of their way to defy it. Either way it seems we’re trying to define ourselves without a dictionary.
Sometimes this creates a problem of us wanting to feel more secure in this confusion by writing our own dictionaries so that they define us as better than others by setting our “good points” as the main standards and our weaknesses as less important. Someone with a weakness for alcohol can re-write that part of the book to recommend themselves for their discerning taste in their poison. Another might recommend a lustful bent as a virtue for only lusting after the “pretty ones.” Each person can define
“superior humanity” as having straight or curly hair, or being the “ideal” height. Anyone with different body type, food preference, or career path would be clearly deficient, and part of the universal human package is the kind of insecurity that could enable me to actually believe such nonsense.
So what is Normal? And why are we all so different?
There seems to be a rule in logic that we can learn more about the particulars from the general than we can learn about the general from the particulars. If there is anything like a norm, the best thing we can tell about it is that every one of us is deviated from it, though some in more creative ways than others. Two other things we notice is that while each of us wants to be known as an individual, each of us wants to belong to something bigger than just us. And each of these three things points straight to God!
Back in the very beginning, God did make us to be like Him- to carry His image. Goodness, honesty, compassion, all the things that our consciences tell us we ought to show, but just can’t seem to get around to it. Each of us is distinct. There’s something in us that wants to be noticed, and understood. And we want to understand others, don’t we? When we put those three parts together we have a some suggestions about the God Who made us: All that “good” means, that’s Him. And He is distinct: He is the One that is completely distinct in Himself. Theologians say that is what His holiness is about. But not just to be distinct in isolation, but in relationship. The Bible tells us that He wants to reveal Himself to us, and for us to open our own hearts to Him, as His friends. So just seeing this glimpse of God’s image in our humanity we can say that He is good, holy, and loving. Since God, by definition, is eternal, and we, by definition, are not, that would mean that for the unimaginable majority of God’s existence we weren’t there. Again by definition God is perfect and not needy, but love assumes a relationship. In what kind of relationship do we find God, in all eternity? The Bible, again, tells us that God is love. If He lives in love, through all eternity, and not in need of love then can He be One, alone? Being God, it is possible that He be of one Substance, yet more than one Person in perfect unity. We have pictures of this in human life, as newlyweds experience that desire to be completely united and identified with each other, or of soldiers building such an esprit de corps that their very lives are secondary to the mission. So if the Deity is expressed in more Persons than one, then how many might it be? If two, then that would be a picture of a romantic coupling or one’s love affair with a mirror, with no room either way for another. If four or more, then it gets to be more like a committee, or a group of smaller cliques. That leaves us with three, which happens to fit with the Holy Trinity. Three Persons: Of one substance, each distinctly unique, yet the very word “Person” means one in relationship with others.
So we can find out that much about what God is like from looking at the broken image in people, then what can we learn about ourselves from learning about God?
Further reading from St. Anselm