Friday, May 03, 2013


I’ve come to realize that I have an ongoing conflict within myself. Part of me wrestles with pride and self-love while another part of me wallows in self-loathing. So, my pendulum swings between these two extremes. Either I feel an inflated sense of self, or I beat myself up for not being a better person.

If I’m prideful then I hate myself for being so full of myself. If I feel sorry for myself then I hate the fact that I have given in to these feelings of self-doubt.

Then the cycle repeats.

Self-love or self-doubt. Bravado or pity. Pride or condemnation. Those are my choices. I either compensate for my feelings of inadequacy by telling myself I’m better than I really am, or I beat myself up for being too self-absorbed. Where do I find the balance? How do I change this inner struggle? How do I rewrite the script that continually plays in my head over and over again?

I recently began reading a book about self-image. Specifically, about how our identity is wrapped up in Christ. Not all of it was great. In fact, a lot of it really didn’t click at all for me. But what God did show me was significant and important.

Identity has always been a fascination of mine. It’s why I love the books I love. It’s why I love the movies I love. If I listed them for you now you’d see what I mean. The point is that the question I’ve been asking all this time is, “Who am I?” and deep down, deeper than I’ve known until now, the other question I’ve been asking is, “Who is God?”

Frankly, answering the question, “Who is God?” is easier for me to answer than “Who am I?”, as crazy as that sounds. I’ve never doubted God. Not in the sense that I’ve doubted His existence. Truthfully. I can remember being a little boy and talking to God, thinking about Him, reasoning out how He could have created everything without needing to be created Himself, praying to Him for help, promising Him that I would be a preacher if He would put my parents back together again. All of these things took place years before I formally went forward and surrendered my life to Him. I have always felt Him near me. So finding out who God was and is has never been that much of a struggle for me.

But finding out who I am? That’s another story. In fact, I think it’s difficult for most of us. We can tell people our name, and our address, and where we’re from, and what our hobbies are, and who we love, but none of us can accurately answer the question, “Who are you?” Because my name, and my address, and my hobbies, and my job, and my associations do not define me. They are all things that exist outside of me, they are not me.

What I learned from reading this book was this very simple truth: “To know myself I have to know God, and to know God I have to know myself.” In other words, my identity is revealed in Christ when Christ is revealed in me. Jesus put it this way:

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:24-26)

Denying myself is part of finding myself revealed in Christ. It’s more than simply saying “no” to my sinful desires. It’s also about giving up on defining myself. In other words, I am not who I pretend to be. I am not who you think I am. I am not who others tell me I am. I am only who Jesus reveals me to be.

So, letting go of my ideas about who I should be and embracing the person that God made me to be allows the veil to be removed from my eyes. Losing my life allows me to find my true self hidden in Christ, where I have been all along.

At the same time, I have to fully embrace the person that God has made me to be. For a long time now I’ve been hiding from my true self.  I have a teaching gift yet I often sit quietly in the background and let others talk. Yet, God made me to be a teacher. That’s part of my identity. To deny that is to deny my true self.

All of this takes me back to when I was five years old, laying on my bunk bed in the dark, whispering to God from my heart of simplicity. The more I shared my heart with God, the more God revealed His heart to me. It takes me back to sitting in my closet and pouring out my soul to God as a teenager. This is a relationship. The more I know God, the more He allows me to know my true self.

Over time I think I’ve forgotten how to let God love me like that. I’ve become so used to pretending to be the person I think I’m supposed to be that I’ve been hiding my true self from Him. I’ve been rolling over in the darkness when He calls my name. I’ve been going through the motions instead of coming before Him just as I am; simply trusting that He will love me because of who He is.

The beautiful truth is, He just wants me to know Him. He really wants to show me who I am, too. The more I open my heart to Him, the more I know Him, and the more He reveals myself to me.

One of my favorite promises in scripture is found in Revelation 2:17 where Jesus promises that one day He will give each of us a white stone, and on that stone is written a new name. It is a unique name that Jesus has already picked out for each of us individually. He tells us that no one will know that name except the two of us. It’s a special secret name that reveals our true identity through His eyes.

I can’t wait for Jesus to drop that white stone into my open hand. I can’t wait to turn it over and to read that secret name etched there by His own hand.

I am only who I am when He whispers that name to me.



Br G-M said...

There is the old adage, if you love something or someone enough, give them away and they will come back to you.
I am not sure God asks us to loath ourselves, but certainly to deal with the not so good parts of us - isn't that the case?
For decades I had no idea I was one of twins and always felt a gap beside me. This I frequently blamed on my 'shadow side' of my life until I realised I was actually blaming someone else - someone who was not only dead but didn't deserve that kind of blame. It taught me the lesson to take everything to the Cross - especially the loathsome stuff - and there let God speak to it.

Randi Jo :) said...

YES!!!! oh man that was so good Keith. I am connecting so much to what you are saying.

God has really showed me the same thing.... I can't really say I've really even taken great steps of seeing it unfold and knowing who I really am...

but the first step for me was just to STOP thinking about myself and looking for who I am in my own opinion... and then other's opinion... and start looking at Him and for what He thinks and sees.

I am excited for this process.

I really do believe He is freeing me from my own self focus (which shows itself in both self pity, self hate and also in pride) and freeing me from finding my value in how OTHERS view me.... and really helping me know my value is in being His, period. Not even in how He uses me. But just that I am His. I know it's His work to bring out my strengths & gifts....and someday I know His work in me will be complete.

and ohhhh YES that passage from revelation with our name. I CAN NOT WAIT for so many things about heaven ---- but truly just being OVER myself and seeing me how He sees me is one of my fave things I look forward to!!

Thanks for this writing. This was so encouraging to my heart. Such a blessing today!!

Randi Jo :) said...

ohhh Keith -
I have to pick your brain on something.

Soooo you know how Adam was made in God's image right?? (Gen 1:27)

but then Adam's children were born into *Adam's* children (Gen 5:3)

soooo since Jesus is seen as the new Adam and a new people is born that are indwelled by His Spirit.... when we are "reborn" - is there a passage that tells us we are now in the image of God again!?.....

and now, are we, His children just all in the process of watching that unfold and we are becoming who we are meant to be because now we are again....made in His image??

Now it's just about knowing who our Father is... knowing who are family is!?

and reminding ourselves of that.. and each other!!??

wooahhh cool

Randi Jo :) said...

SOOOoooo cool!

I just flipped to Colossians and saw Colossians 3:10

and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the ***image of its Creator***

our new self is in the image of God once again! like Adam's was... and we were meant to be.


I think I always knew that.... but He is helping it sink deeper!!

This seems so basic but wow it's so powerful to me right now!