We have a false self and a true self. The false self is a function of:
- our accomplishments
- what others say about us
- our externally-derived significance
- an identity built around temporal things
All of this is noise and clamor obscuring the reality of who
we really are.
Our true self is our internal “spirit-man” that exists
without the applause and acclaim. Our
true self doesn’t need to be puffed up.
When all the soccer trophies and plaques on the wall are stripped away,
the true self is unphased.
Our noisy society that expects its children to have their
own web sites, cell phones, and computers sets us up to travel backwards
through our lives, starting out unsullied and pristine, but continually and
ever more habitually, substituting a fabricated version of reality for the
One of the key tasks in life is to know oneself independent
of the trophies, voices, and club memberships.
To do this, we have to strip it all away. Sometimes in his mercy, God allows all the
falderal to be cleaned out of our lives.
The typical human response to this is to beat one’s fists against the
divine chest and ask “Why me?”
Addicted to comforts and happy with our false self, we
interpret the pain that attends this stripping away as a punishment. For example, although I’d begun the
abandoning process by leaving the comforts of home and family at 21 for life in
it wasn’t until I was 31, when I lost my job, my sense of success, and had a
meltdown that I completed the process of abandoning. While I cooperated with him, instead of
appreciating what God was doing in my life, I recited the script of a victim,
focusing on the people he’d used as tools to do his work in me.
Better to detox the false self when you’re young. My hypothesis is that it takes at least a
year. Jesus took three years with his
disciples to detox them and they still were guilty of foolishness in the end
(e.g. Peter and the rooster). Difficult
enough in an era of simplicity; in this era of complication, the process of
abandoning our ego props becomes an essential initial phase in the initiation
of a Jesus-follower, a process that we know as “discipleship.” The AA meeting attendees know what I’m
talking about – the rest of us are addicts of another sort – we all need that
kind of raw honesty about life and our place in it.