This may sound strange, but over the past year I have begged God for a meek and feeble request that he might cause me to fall in love with myself. Not in an arrogant and self-righteous manner, but from an attitude of humility, to view myself from His gaze: by His grace. To love myself with each breath, breathing in simultaneously through one nostril awareness of who I am without Jesus: insufficient, depraved and desperate, and through the other who I am with Him: perfected, loved and redeemed. Both are significant to my existence as a follower of Christ, for me to be known accurately, and to be loved wholly.
What follows describes She— the “person” in all of us that we are ashamed of. My hope for this post is that you will find your identity in Jesus and allow Him to shape the “she” in you. Its not an overnight process, but it is a process that every believer should go through. I pray that you will see who you are without Jesus and who you are with Jesus!
She likes to think she knows who she is. Her answer is sure when she feels loved by God. Self-acceptance is relatively easy when her life is together and support systems are in place. At times, she may even claim that she is coming to love herself. When she is strong, on top, and in control, her sense of control crystalizes. But what happens when she no longer feels loved? When her sin is exposed and her failures are highlighted? What happens when her fears come true and her dreams shatter?
As the pretender, she is a compromiser to her true self: insecure in her own skin and using others for how she might win. She adapts to each evolving situation and as a result she doesn’t have a personality of her own. Her identity comes from meeting the needs of others and performing with excellence. Success to her is people liking and approving of her. Failure is being rejected.
Because of her suffocating need to please others, she cannot say no with the same confidence with which she says yes. Motivated by the fear of not living up to others expectations, she overextends herself in projects, people, and programs. Living out of her creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire her yet she will still remain unknown. Her life becomes a perpetual roller-coaster ride of delight and depression. She is preoccupied with her weight and often grieved by the scale. The reflection of her awkward body shape, her puffy hair, and her freckled face in the mirror kidnaps her attention away from the voice of Jesus. It temporarily robs her of the Truth of His Word and she then becomes obedient to the whisper of lies. The amount of time, energy and thought she devotes to acquiring and maintaining the “perfect” image is quite staggering.
She assumes the passive role in relationships, snuffs out her creative thinking, denies her real feelings, and allows herself to be intimidated by others. Preferring to be plain, she blends in– there is less of her to reject that way. She wants only to be safe, to fit in, to be accepted, to be liked. Out of the fear of rejection, she avoids direct speech; she hedges, waffles, and remains silent. She is devoted to a life in the shadows. To her, silence is safer.
She is in me, in all of us. She is a vital part of our total self, but she must be called out of hiding, be accepted and embraced. The art of gentleness towards her leads me to be gentle with others. The hatred I have towards her, the pretender in me, is actually self-hatred. However, God liberates me from self-condemnation with graciousness and an understanding of human weakness that only He can exhibit. He is the one who saves us from her— from ourselves. His name is freedom. His Word is freedom.
Jesus discloses God’s true feelings towards me in the life He lived when He dwelt among us. The understanding and compassion He offered those He encountered then, He also offers you and me.
Naturally, she will forever be in us. I wouldn’t want her to go away. She is a part of me; a part of you; however, she shouldn’t control us. She might get frazzled at times, and start to act out. But the longer we spend time in the presence of Jesus, the less adoration she will need because she will have discovered that HE is enough. In His presence, she will delight in the discovery of what is means to live by grace and not by performance. And she will truly know who she is in Him: loved, redeemed, and His righteousness.
Written by Meredith Nichols