Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How do you see your self?

That's a loaded question isn't it? I wonder how many - if we were COMPLETELY honest - would answer that question with something positive? I know I sure wouldn't. I wouldn't call myself 'Beloved' or 'Chosen' or 'Precious Gift'. It would go something like fat, ugly, selfish. What about you? Why is it we go mostly to the physical when we're asked that question? UGH. Let's see what Brennan Manning says about this topic.

In "Abba's Child" he writes "One of the most shocking contradictions in the American church is the intense dislike many disciples of Jesus have for themselves. They are more displeased with their own short-comings than they would ever dream of being with someone else's. They are sick of their own mediocrity and disgusted by their own inconsistency." Wow. Can anyone relate? He goes further to quote David Seamands with "Many Christians...find themselves defeated by the most psychological weapon that Satan uses against them. This weapon has the effectiveness of a deadly missile. It's name? Low self-esteem." Can I get a witness? OUCH! "This feeling shackles many Christians, in spite of wonderful spiritual experiences and knowledge of God's Word. Although they understand their position as sons and daughters of God, they are tied up in knots, bound by a terrible feeling of inferiority, and chained to a deep sense of worthlessness." Well that pretty much sums up a LOT of my life!

Like Manning - who then tells the story of his traumatic childhood and how he detached his heart from his head in order to 'perform' in the ministry - I have spent a lot of my life beating myself up. Sure, I knew I had done some pretty good things in my life, I knew that I was a child of God, I knew that I had a home in heaven, but I truly believed it was gonna be a little shack in the woods not a mansion on streets of gold. Worthlessness was my middle name. I couldn't let go of my past and accept that God truly had cast my sins as far as the east from the west. I just knew He was just waiting for the perfect time to bring them up again. Little did I know I had those roles reversed. It was Satan who was waiting for the perfect time to remind me. The Father had no idea what sins I was talking about because they had been covered by the blood of Jesus and He couldn't see them.

Also like Manning I finally had a breakdown. I was able to accept Jesus' love and forgiveness COMPLETELY. I knew that I had, like he talks about, projected onto God my feelings about myself. I only felt safe with Him when I had performed perfectly, when I had been noble or generous or loving, not scared, tired, angry or scarred up. Finally though, not too long ago I was able to come out of hiding. I was able to see myself the way God sees me. Like the prodigal, I too limped home, battered and bruised and found the Father running to meet me with open arms. Please don't think that means my life has been a bed of roses since, oh no, quite the contrary. Since then, the enemy has found an even more clever disguise to attack me with. But I'll tell you this as I read this book - and am still reading it - I found myself in the pages.

As Manning writes his story - though it's different in that I've never been a pastor - it was my story. I think it's a lot of our stories. Different circumstances yes, but still the same theme. This is one of my favorite lines in the book. Manning is quoting one of the "most sought-after spiritual guides of our time" Thomas Merton in beating our self-esteem issues "Quit keeping score altogether and surrender yourself with all your sinfulness to God who sees neither the score nor the scorekeeper but only his child redeemed by Christ." Liberty will follow. It's yours/mine for the taking. Grab that mirror and take a good long look. You'll see it too!!!!


Lucy said...

I have got to get this book. I keep checking back to see if you've written anything else, so don't stop.

Love you!

PS - If it's a boy - Noah James. If it's a girl - Allison Brooke. Right now I'm calling him/her "Noah Alli."