Thursday, June 7, 2012

for what it's worth: the struggle of the self

This blog has become somewhat of a joke despite my slightly less than best intentions for it. This is the first post I've actually typed out since September of last year, but it's one of many that has been narrated in my mind. The truth is, I have a lot to say, and it's mostly not about running a family on a budget or the day to day ups and downs of being a stay at home mom to a one year old, though these are very relevant and interesting things to write about. It's thoughts that I have while I'm doing those things that get lost in the shuffle. Thoughts that run deeply through me, that my one year old daughter and schnauzer (who are the only ones here as the words tumble through my brain) cannot and should not understand. So they get labeled, dog eared if you will, in the aspiring hope that one day I will make it my mission to sit down and let the dishes and the dust pile up a bit so that I can put these thoughts down concretely and share them with fellow adults who might find them useful or at least interesting.

So now that I've gone into too much detail just vaguely describing what I'm about to write about, here it goes.

Self is a strange notion. It all at once defines us and yet doesn't at all. And I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I've had my eyes opened to some of my idols, which just for the record is an amazingly hard but wonderful thing to experience. As a child we are told under unwise council that we can do anything we set our minds to, that all we need is self confidence. And for a moment, maybe longer, we feel like this is true and our sense of self is heightened. The illusive idea of self confidence feels attainable and no one can shake it. But then reality, also known as life or growing up, happens and we feel jaded by this utter nonsense. It isn't fitting for everyone to be anything. No one comes into the world with a talent for any and everything, nor should they. The plan of the Creator is quite different than this and it never leaves a depleted feeling as the lie of the self does. One's confidence, or better yet their worth, cannot be found in the self, which cannot even be distinctly defined. It has to be found in something larger, something more cohesive and just downright more important than themselves.

And so begins the journey to find the self for many. The disillusionment of the self confidence lie creates a hunger for something bigger, something that will shed light on who we are. But the lie is really just perpetuated again. Finding the self is just a rephrased adult version "you can be anything!". The self once again seeks the self and returns void. Who you are ends up being either a reaction or a reproduction of the circumstances in which you "found yourself".

Here is where your worth lies. What you do with this notion of self has a direct link to what you place your worth in. Despite our best efforts to stay comfortably numb to it, we truly do all have a void in our lives. And the worldly fix is to fill it up with whatever feels good, whatever inflates the self. Fill yourself with more self. But when are you filled by this method? You can't be. It is a self defeating concept that is thought through very little but acted on with great enthusiasm. And filling the void with yourself can look like many different things. Money, sex, relationships, comfort, good looks, education, children, entertainment, even ministry... I could go on. The point is that it doesn't always look glaringly bad to us by our flawed perception. We are all quick to see the wrong in living our lives for drugs or promiscuous sex, but anything that points us towards more and more of US is wrong. And it's wrong because we weren't created for it. The void is there and it can literally never be filled by any of these things, even the good things, because they cannot bear that load.

The remedy lies in this truth -the self need not be found, but lost. As Jesus says in Matthew 10, "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it". Our desires to find ourselves, no matter what they are, cannot complete us as we need to be completed. We must see that the seeking of the self will eventually leave us empty, when the thrills of the their temporal promises of happiness are past. But here is where the beautiful story of the gospel of Christ fits perfectly into the struggle of the self. A Redemptive God steps in as a man with His own struggle of self and defeats the power of the lie for our sake. Without Christ we don't want life, we just want self and more self. Because life is found at the cross, where the sinful self was redeemed and reconciled to God and life is being confident in Christ.


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