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We all have a glittering image, that image that we think everyone wants to see, that we try and protect at all costs.
Growing up we find out the hard way that we are not as smart, or pretty, or athletic as others around us. We learn by the remarks of others, or whether or not we are picked to be on the team, invited to do something with friends, or if you are good enough to be praised by teachers and parents.
If you were like me (and every other person I know) you learned what made your parents react out of anger, or what you did to make them happy…to praise or reward you. We learned what behavior caused us to be invited or rejected.
As a result, at a very young age we created a false self to protect us.
The false self reaches back to a time when we were successful or popular, and it tries to convince others that we are still a big deal. The false is afraid of rejection or ridicule and protects us from the shame that comes as a result. The false self acquiesces, or shrinks back when it is uncertain of the outcome.
Even though the false self can be helpful when we are young…as an adult it lies to us by continuing to try and persuade us that it is protecting us, but it actually only serves to keep us fearful of being seen, and therefore is more like a prison than a help.
Because we are fearful and insecure, we keep hiding ourselves from God and from others. We tend to present to God and others only those parts of ourselves with which we feel relatively comfortable and which we think will evoke a positive response.
A few years ago I was reading a book by Peter Scazerro titled Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. He used an iceberg as a illustration of how we live our lives both “externally and internally”. If you look at a picture of an iceberg, you quickly discover that the vast majority lies under the surface of the water. Only about 10% of an iceberg is visible to the naked eye. Our lives are very much like an iceberg. Our external life, the 10% that is visible…that people we encounter see…is what we spend the majority of our lives working on. This is the false self that feverishly strives to prop up the tip of the iceberg.
The other 90%…the internal life…for the most part goes unseen. Even though it is unseen, it causes all kinds of problems on the surface. If you and I are not willing to look under the surface of our lives, we will remain trapped in the vicious cycle of trying to prove that we are ok, or enough.
Who wants to look under the Iceberg?
One of the reasons that we shy away from looking beneath the water line is because we are afraid of what we will find. We know we are broken inside. We know that the things that have or have not happened to us are painful and embarrassing. That our interior life is where all of our painful memories of the emotional wounds that we received throughout life reside.
In order to work on our interior life, we need to be vulnerable, however, we have been taught that vulnerability is weakness, and should be avoided at all costs. Can you see the problem? Under the surface of our lives is where we need the healing work of Jesus Christ. Even though we know this to be true, we continue to live from our false self, hiding our flaws, pain, and brokenness from the world around us. A snowball has a better chance of surviving in hell than we do of of letting Jesus go back into our stories with us and heal the broken places that continue to ride roughshod over lives. However, how is that working for you?
The heart that God put in you when He created you? You may be saying; but I have tried and I can never seem to get anywhere. Yeah, I know the feeling. One of the problems that we face is that we have been taught many tips and techniques that are supposed to help us live a truer life, and yet here we are, still hustling to find worthiness and wholeness. It isn’t that all of those things are not good, it is that they are simply are not enough.
Here is the thing…God created you and I with a true self. It isn’t something that we work on to perfect, but it is something that we discover. It is already there…God created us with it. We were made for Eden, and life has a way of quickly offering counterfeits that appear to bring the life that we long for from our true heart.
What I have been learning is that in order to move away from my false self, and live more and more out of my true self, I need to be desperate, aware, and vulnerable. I need to turn my hands over and surrender to Jesus. To literally die to my false self.