Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Is the same person that others around you see? The way we see ourselves is very important because we are all good at playing a role. We live a life that is expected of us and most of us completely ignore the reality of who we are inside. It is something that we learned early on in life and we developed a persona to deal with our environment, but also to elicit the responses from people we found benefited us the most. We learned to be someone to fit into the world we live in.
The problem isn’t that we developed this persona but that we became so accustomed to it we completely ignored the reality within. And the person we were created to be needs to be expressed. But as long as we ignore our life inside in favor of the life we are accustomed to living and measuring up to people’s expectations of us we can never truly be happy or healthy. Do we really know ourselves? Or is the person you think you know just an illusion you have built? The person we tell ourselves we are often hides the person that we really are. And that opens the door to what the church has called “secret sins.”
I recently read “Consider the way a lack of self-knowledge affected the life of a well-known pastor and his congregation. No one would have doubted this man’s knowing of God—at least before his very public downfall. He had built a very successful ministry around his preaching, and there was no reason to suspect that he did not personally know the truths he publicly proclaimed. Nor was there any obvious reason to question his knowing of himself. Anyone who thought about the matter would probably have judged his self-understanding to be deep. His sermons often included significant self-disclosure, and he seemed to know how to be vulnerable before God.
But as for many of us, all of that was more appearance than reality. The self this pastor showed to the world was a public self he had crafted with great care—a false self of his own creation. Between this public self and his true experience lay an enormous chasm. Both that chasm and his inner experience lay largely outside his awareness. Suddenly the gap between his inner reality and external appearance was exposed. Things that he did not know or accept about himself welled up within him and shattered the illusion his life represented. Lust led to sexual involvement with a woman he was counseling, just as greed had earlier led to misuse of church funds. As these things became public, the lie that was his life imploded. It was a lie he had lived before his family, closest friends, congregation, God and himself. It was a lie that grew from the soil of self-ignorance.” Benner, David G. (2009-09-20). The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery (p. 21). InterVarsity Press.
God is interested in who we really, without all the masks and with all the warts and scars. It is who we really are the He died to redeem. Not the proper, got it all together, person we masquerade to those around us. And a lot of the circumstances we find ourselves in are often God trying to bring the real us up to the surface. Only when we recognize ourselves for who we are can we truly begin to change. Only when we see ourselves for who we truly are can we see the effect our lives and choices are having and begin to make some real adjustments.
Our lives can change under the hand of God and we can become who we were created by God to be not who our circumstances created us to be. But it is up to us to decide if we are going to take an honest look at ourselves and see what is truly inside. God is waiting for us to do just that. And if we will begin to open those locked doors in our hearts we will find that He is right there already waiting for us to open the door and walk in. He will meet us in that moment and we can come to know Him more. I can’t promise you that it is an easy journey to begin, or that is will be without pain. I can only promise you the rewards will be worth the effort if we allow the illusion to fade and the reality of who we are to come into the light.