people who never developed a deep personal knowing of God will be limited in the depth of their personal knowing themselves. failing to know God, they will be unable to know themselves, as God is the only context in which their being makes sense. similarly, people who are afraid to look deeply at themselves will of course be equally afraid to look deeply at God. for such persons, ideas about God provide a substitute for direct experience of God.
it has not, at least in my observation, been very important within the church for one to know oneself.
most of what we’re expected to know about ourselves comes from sources outside of us, and tends to sound something like: “you are a sinner,” “you can do nothing good on your own,” “Jesus died to save you,” which all seem to imply that we are considerably ugly and/or worthless and that God’s only view of us is that we need saving.
this is not to say that there are elements of truths in all those statements–i believe them about myself. but they only touch the surface of identity.
we’ve been talking a lot this week about calling and mission, and they seem to center around the idea that there is this cycle: know God therefore know yourself, but also know yourself therefore know God. it’s true that we are broken creatures who tend toward selfish options and want to be our own god. but if we also acknowledge that, as the Scripture says, we were made in their (the Trinity) image, then we were also created with a considerable amount of goodness as well. it may be quite warped by this point, due to hurts, pains, poor choices, societal pressures, etc. but it is still there.
for me, this journey of self-discovery has been a painful process, and i’m not convinced that it should be otherwise. to look deeply into oneself means letting go of the expectation of being someone else. it means embracing what is found there, the light and the darkness. it means facing unexpressed hurt and pain, sometimes from those you love the most. it means a great deal of breaking down and rebuilding back again, always exhausting and time-consuming.
i have to keep hoping that it’s all worth it.
because the deep heart of knowing we were created by God, is coming to understand what, exactly, He created. to understand how we were uniquely wired, what gifts He’s given us to share in His redemption of the world, what we weren’t created to be/do…then, and only then, can we respond fully to our calling. only by pushing into who we were created to be, can we live into what we were created to do.