Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Reflection on the True Self

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4:22-24)

"The false self is the cause of spiritual retardation; it conceals the fundamental experience of being created in the image and likeness of God." - Thomas Keating

As we continue on this journey that is the spiritual life, I am convinced that we begin to find our true selves. Finding oneself is not akin to finding a lost set of keys; in fact, it is a lifelong process, that can only truly be possible through a relationship with our Creator. We have been born into and spent our lives in sin, alienated even from ourselves and the image of God in which we were created, having built great fortresses of lies and unnatural dependencies that hinder us from seeing ourselves, others, and God clearly. We sometimes find our worth, our "selves," in our relationships with others, our jobs or callings, our money or possessions, or hosts of other places. But true identity and security can only be found in God.

God himself lives in us, and we begin to, by His grace, put on our new self, our true self, which is "like God." Christian experience is not merely negative; we pick up the cross not as an end in itself, but so that we might be resurrected with Christ. The end of Christianity is not death, but life. Let us not become merely spiritual masochists in our desires to "crucify the flesh." It seems egotistical or heretical to think of any good thing within oneself, but it is not ourselves, but God in us. And it would also seem selfish to want to find our true selves, yet as we find ourselves in God, we become not selfish but more humble and caring.

God creates nothing without purpose--no less for you and me--and this we must strive to find in Him. Allow the Light of God to penetrate the false selves we've spent our whole lives building and show them to be nothing more than misguided ideas and misplaced affections. Paradoxically, as we grow closer to God, we grow closer to ourselves; and one who has found her true self and trusts only in God for her identity has finally delighted in perfect and selfless worship of the Almighty.

-John Orzechowski

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