What do we do when our plans fall apart and the things we believe God called us into seem to come unglued? All that hard work and preparation which seems to be wasted. Or
maybe the dreams we have in our hearts seem to be like a distant ship sailing away from us off the horizon, and we seem to be getting further and further from what we feel God has spoken. The feelings of defeat which can go with this can be hard to live through. And at times we feel like giving up, and wonder ‘Did God really say?’
Continue reading A Question of Character
Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Is the same person that others around you see? The way we see ourselves is very important because we are all good at playing a role. We live a life that is expected of us and most of us completely ignore the reality of who we are inside. It is something that we learned early on in life and we developed a persona to deal with our environment, but also to elicit the responses from people we found benefited us the most. We learned to be someone to fit into the world we live in.
The problem isn’t that we developed this persona but that we became so accustomed to it we completely ignored the reality within. And the person we were created to be needs to be expressed. But as long as we ignore our life inside in favor of the life we are accustomed to living and measuring up to people’s expectations of us we can never truly be happy or healthy. Do we really know ourselves? Or is the person you think you know just an illusion you have built? The person we tell ourselves we are often hides the person that we really are. And that opens the door to what the church has called “secret sins.”
I recently read “Consider the way a lack of self-knowledge affected the life of a well-known pastor and his congregation. No one would have doubted this man’s knowing of God—at least before his very public downfall. He had built a very successful ministry around his preaching, and there was no reason to suspect that he did not personally know the truths he publicly proclaimed. Nor was there any obvious reason to question his knowing of himself. Anyone who thought about the matter would probably have judged his self-understanding to be deep. His sermons often included significant self-disclosure, and he seemed to know how to be vulnerable before God.
But as for many of us, all of that was more appearance than reality. The self this pastor showed to the world was a public self he had crafted with great care—a false self of his own creation. Between this public self and his true experience lay an enormous chasm. Both that chasm and his inner experience lay largely outside his awareness. Suddenly the gap between his inner reality and external appearance was exposed. Things that he did not know or accept about himself welled up within him and shattered the illusion his life represented. Lust led to sexual involvement with a woman he was counseling, just as greed had earlier led to misuse of church funds. As these things became public, the lie that was his life imploded. It was a lie he had lived before his family, closest friends, congregation, God and himself. It was a lie that grew from the soil of self-ignorance.” Benner, David G. (2009-09-20). The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery (p. 21). InterVarsity Press.
God is interested in who we really, without all the masks and with all the warts and scars. It is who we really are the He died to redeem. Not the proper, got it all together, person we masquerade to those around us. And a lot of the circumstances we find ourselves in are often God trying to bring the real us up to the surface. Only when we recognize ourselves for who we are can we truly begin to change. Only when we see ourselves for who we truly are can we see the effect our lives and choices are having and begin to make some real adjustments.
Our lives can change under the hand of God and we can become who we were created by God to be not who our circumstances created us to be. But it is up to us to decide if we are going to take an honest look at ourselves and see what is truly inside. God is waiting for us to do just that. And if we will begin to open those locked doors in our hearts we will find that He is right there already waiting for us to open the door and walk in. He will meet us in that moment and we can come to know Him more. I can’t promise you that it is an easy journey to begin, or that is will be without pain. I can only promise you the rewards will be worth the effort if we allow the illusion to fade and the reality of who we are to come into the light.
The journey to know yourself is one that is important to take, but also can be difficult. In order to know yourself, truly know yourself it requires you to look at all the parts of yourself including the ones that you would rather keep hidden. Everyone of us has parts of ourselves which we like, and try to make prominent. The qualities of ourselves that we see as strengths which we work on and hope people see. But we also have parts that we do our best to minimize and keep hidden. The parts of ourselves that we see as shortcomings or weaknesses.
If we were to have our way these parts of our nature would be kept in the dark and never seen again. The problem is we cannot truly know ourselves without seeing them for what they are, a part of who we are. If we only focus on the parts of ourselves that we like, or think are our strengths we will not live in truth, because part of ourselves remains hidden and in the dark. And it is part of us that God created. It probably needs some work, because these weaknesses can lead us into areas where we can be tempted to sin, but it still is part of who we are and needs to be recognized as such.
“If, for example, I only know my strong, competent self and am never able to embrace my weak or insecure self, I am forced to live a lie. I must pretend that I am strong and competent, not simply that I have strong and competent parts or that under certain circumstances I can be strong and competent. Similarly, if I refuse to face my deceitful self I live an illusion regarding my own integrity. Or if I am unwilling to acknowledge my prideful self, I live an illusion of false modesty.”The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery” by David G. Benner
The Holy Spirit’s job here on earth is lead us to truth. Jesus said “The Holy Spirit is coming. He will lead you into all truth.” John 16:13. That truth is usually seen as the truth about Jesus. Which is a very important role the Holy Spirit has. But the truth He is leading us into is also the truth about ourselves. And if we are unwilling to see those parts of ourselves then we will resist the Holy Spirits job in us because only when we see ourselves as He sees us can we truly live in truth. I wrote in a earlier post how the parts of ourselves that we try to hide keep us from becoming who God wants us to become, and usually keep us trapped in behaviors that we are struggling to be free from.
Unless we are willing to honestly look at all of who we are and allow God to reach into those areas we are trying to avoid
we will never be able to break free of the illusion we have worked to create, and we can never truly know what it means to live in freedom. God is already waiting in those areas we are working so hard to keep locked up, so He won’t be surprised at all by what we find when we decide to open them. The pain of opening them might be difficult, but it is infinitely rewarding and freeing when we can face ourselves for who we are and know we are truly loved and completely accepted for who we are, and exactly as we are.