Spiritual Direction – Transforming Into the ‘True Self…’

     M-O-M!! Those pajamas!!!

     “But I LOVE these pajamas!” I retorted, putting an end to the conversation quickly.

     It was true. As much as it is possible to love an inanimate possession, I loved my old p.j.’s. A Target clearance treasure, the well-worn, cream-colored, thermal knit night wear reminded me of a quote from one of my all-time favorite books, The Velveteen Rabbit.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

     I’d liked my pajamas for a long, long time, and they had become quite ‘Real!’

     Sarah was right, though. While they may have been ‘real,’ they were REALLY ugly, and I knew I needed to part with them.

     One Friday—garbage day at our house—I mustered the resolve to pitch those comfortable, but dreadful jammies into the trash!

     I was thinking about those pajamas recently while reading a morning devotional that discussed resentment. The writer of the devotional encouraged me to take a minute to look inward. As I did, I recognized I was wearing the unattractive emotion of resentment toward a certain individual.

     Why don’t you confess this and get rid of your resentment, my better self—the self that desires sincerely to be a godly woman—reminded me.

     But, I don’t want to! I was surprised at the quickness with which my willful, self-centered spirit reared its ugly head.

     The voice of Sue—the woman who wants to honor God—firmly and gently encouraged the other, self-centered voice. Why don’t you lean into this resistance? Explore, what exactly is going on in your heart?

     Like my ugly pajamas, I realized there was a certain amount of comfort connected to my resentment. I’d nurtured the disagreeable emotion long enough that it felt very “real.” Even though I agreed it was ugly, I also knew it had become quite comfortable.

     The concept of ‘True Self’ and ‘False Self’ is often addressed in the process of spiritual direction. One role of the spiritual director—or, ‘Soul Friend,’ which is a term I am growing to like better—is to help the directee recognize the ‘true self’ that longs to live up to his or her God design, and the ‘false self,’ which wants to make life ‘all about me.’

     “In short, the true self is God-centered; the false self is ego-centered.” [1]

     Ridding myself of this resentment isn’t going to be as easy as tossing those old pajamas. I’ve been carrying it around for a long time. Relinquishing it is going to be a process like most choices I make when I become committed to living a life that reflects more Christlike characteristics—when my longing to live as my ‘true self’ supersedes the comfort of staying in my ‘false self.’

     Making this type of change isn’t a matter of condemnation guilting me toward behavior modification. No, stepping into the ‘true self’ is a process of transformation that grows by God’s grace from the inside out.

     By the way, in case you’re wondering, I don’t miss those old pajamas, and I’m certain I won’t miss the emotion of resentment once it has been transformed!

     Blessings on your journey into the ‘true self…’

Sue Reeve

  1. Mirror for the Soul, Alice Fryling

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