A soul under pressure goes looking for safety in what are often broken places.
We look for release in relationships, jobs, hobbies, video games, and
sports among other activities. And we begin to define ourselves according to the things we do.
Have you done this? Have you found yourself looking to the opinions of others to validate your sense of self-worth? It’s normal – we all do it.
But it’s not a legitimate source of identity. The applause of people
may feel like a source of validation. Yet anything we do to earn it – good
grades, trophies and titles – at best generate a temporary boost in our
sense of well-being. But our performance is not us, the applause
we hear is for the performance, not for who we are as people. It’s for the false self that we’ve become.
It may work for a while, but the false self is tyrant, always craving more, never feeling safe, never feeding our soul. And failing to find a sense of safety, our soul may feel cast adrift and
may settle on any of a number of coping behaviors in its search for a
safe place: addiction,
neurosis, cutting, eating disorders, pornography, and worse.
So what started out as a very normal search for safety can land us in a
estranged from ourselves, wondering how we got there, without a clue how
to get back. We never asked to be abused, never wanted to fall in with
rotten crowd that gave us bad advice. We didn’t understand the
treacherous waters we were navigating – we were just looking for a safe harbor to dock our soul’s boat.
The truth is, we need help getting to safety. It’s a cruel world with precious few maps to navigate by. We may not even be aware of the false self we’ve taken on.
The ego props may seem like such a natural part of our identity that we no
longer recognize ourselves. Like Eustace in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of
Treader, we acquire a layer of dragon skin and can’t even see it.
At some point, all of us need to take a closer look at our search
for identity. Have you found a safe place? Have you sought the approval
of men and settled for something counterfeit? Is the persona that you
let others see the real you, or is it a false self?
As God said to Jonah, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”* If you want grace, better to come clean with God now. All of us want and
deserve to be loved for who we really are. It’s a good day to raise the issue with a friend and start talking about it.
For an example of someone working through her identity issues from a biblical perspective, here’s a good blog.