There seems to be a lot of mystery and debate around the idea of “finding yourself.”
For us, finding our True Self basically means learning how to live from that invisible (but very real) place inside us where we were created in God’s image, that safe, love shaped, peace-filled part of us that can never be destroyed or improved.
1 John 3:1 What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. (Msg)
Sounds like a great spot to do life from.
But we don’t seem to stay in this space for more than the time it takes to brush our teeth.
Because apparently living among other humans kicks us out of our True nature. It mixes us up. It causes us to forget who we really are. It distracts us, lulls us to sleep and gets us acting as if we have to be better than, stronger than, more successful, prettier or smarter than everyone else- and get it done like, yesterday.
“Outside influences” get the best of us and for most of every day in different ways, we question our value. We keep checking, and maneuvering, comparing and stressing over whether we’ve done enough, have enough or we ARE enough.
But our True Self in Christ is never worried or competitive or self-promoting. In our true God self, there is no question of our worthiness. Performance of ANY kind is never a factor.
But we don’t trust that. So, we keep knocking ourselves out until we have no other options but to surrender all the madness the rest of the world tells us we should be concerned about.
Years ago, Caron & I didn’t realize it but subconsciously this kind of compulsive, reactive paradigm was our lifestyle most of the time. Even as pastors and spiritual leaders (how is this possible?!) we pretty much missed the boat on understanding this:
“Something in us knows, deep in the gut or the heart, perhaps at an unconscious level, that we are made of more than just the sum total of our thoughts, feelings and the life situation that we are living at the moment. We have a sense of being larger or more infinite than just our little “me.” Nancy Colier
We are perfect spiritual beings having an imperfect human experience.
We are not human beings trying to have a spiritual experience. Think about that for a minute, that simple tweak in perspective is powerful!
You have a Divine DNA.
The Judeo-Christian creation story says that we were created in the very “image and likeness” of God (Gen 1:26). The true human identity must build on this foundational goodness, a true identity “hidden in the love and mercy of God,” as Thomas Merton once put it.
Jesus used numerous metaphors and word pictures to describe what is most true about us… in our core. “Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way…” Jn 7:37
Simply returning to our True Selves (as many times a day as we’re aware we’ve left them) has brought us so much more joy and REST from the crazy town life we were living.
Practicing this has healed and energized us individually, as a couple and revolutionized the way we work.
What would it mean for you to live for long stretches of time from that unchangeable, safe, loving, peace-filled place in you that never dies, gets sad, feels rejection or disappointment?
Here’s a practice we use several times daily that helps us stay anchored in our True Selves in Christ… It’s been taught to Christians for centuries.
- Sit comfortably with your eyes closed… breathing naturally… relax. Become aware of your love and desire for God in this moment.
- Now choose a word or phrase that expresses your intention to be open to God’s presence & to your own true self (ex: “Be still,” “I’m here,” “Just be”—etc.).
- Hold the word gently, without speaking, repeating it in your mind slowly with the rhythm of your breathing.
- Whenever you become aware of anything (thoughts, feelings, sensations, bills to pay), simply come back to internally saying your “word,” which symbolizes your intention and desire for connection with God, as well as being anchored in your true self.
- Gradually let the word fall away as you slip into silence. Rest there in the silence of the loving presence of God. I will often whisper in my heart- “so there you are.” I’m referring to both my True Self and the presence of God in me.
- Continue in silence as long as you wish – We suggest beginning with only five to ten minutes.
- There is nothing whatsoever to prove in the presence of God. Nothing there to accomplish or “buy” —nothing to achieve. This is the practice of being your true self, sitting with God, enjoying that moment, and experiencing the feeling of needing nothing more than this moment with God to feel whole, which is your True Self.
“The discovery of your True Self will feel like a thousand pounds of weight has fallen from your back. You will no longer have to build, protect, or promote an idealized self-image. Living in the True Self is quite simply a much happier existence, even though we never live there a full twenty-four hours a day. But you henceforth have it as a place to always go back to.
You have finally discovered the alternative to your False Self. You are like Jacob awakening from sleep and joining the chorus of mystics in every age. “You were here all along, and I never knew it!” he says (Genesis 28: 16).” Richard Rohr