Surrendering the False Self

By Brian Craig

I’ve often thought it when I’m talking to a colleague or an acquaintance.  I’ve often thought it when I look in the mirror. Posing a question that is often painful to answer:

“Have you met yourself?”

We all create a sense of who we are, or of who we think we are, perhaps based on what others may truthfully tell us, or based on our external circumstances.  But often the strongest voice is an inner one that strives to buoy us up in the face of criticism or inner turmoil.  It’s often one created by family history.  As Peter Scazzero says, “Jesus lives in your heart, but Grandpa lives in your bones.”  Or sometimes the false sense of self comes just by the absence of helpful insights and feedback from others.

One version looks like this.  We can sometimes see ourselves as highly skilled in some area – when perhaps we really are just…  adequate.  We can see ourselves as insightful, but never confirm if the insights are valid or not.  We can convince ourselves that we’re great in relationships, even though it seems we find others just don’t seem to understand that and they end up walking away.  Sometimes the self we see is far better than the facts truly allow.

Or the partner version is the sense of self that can only see the negative.  We only see the failures or the struggles.  We feel we’re never good enough.  We prove to be our harshest critic, or we accept without question the criticism or complaints of others.  Sometimes the sense of self is far worse than the facts truly allow.

Either way, have you met yourself?  Really?  Honestly?

Whether  our tendency is to think too highly of ourselves, glossing over our weaknesses or areas where we need to grow,  or alternately to think too lowly of ourselves, debasing the image of God that’s been placed in us, we need to learn to meet ourselves.

Can we meet ourselves the way God meets us?  In Matthew 5:48, Jesus speaks to what he sees in us.  “You are Kingdom subjects.  Now live like it.  Live out your God-created identity.  Live generously and graciously the way God lives toward you.”  (The Message)  Or as Colossians 3:12 notes, we are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved!”

To meet myself, I meet Christ.  And he encourages me to have a real sense of who I am.  Yes, in need of redeeming and restoration.  But also deeply of value and loved for all eternity.

Once I know that, I can look in the mirror more realistically.  I can invite others to speak into my life, helping me see who I really am, and how they perceive my actions and the attitudes I convey.  And over time, the community of faith and God’s relentless love for me will polish my sense of self into someone I really want to meet.

For Lent, I’m hoping to surrender a false sense of who I am, in order to embrace a God-created identity through Jesus Christ.

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