“I love that I can be my true self at home” was the remark. Upon further prodding an example: “You know, I don’t have to be so concerned about being polite and patient all the time. I can just be myself.” I’ve been stewing over this one for several weeks now.
My family knows intimate parts of who I am—things no one else knows or has walked through with me. They’ve seen me at my best and my worst. They’ve seen me in progress. And none of it has scared them away. In this sense, I can be myself, I can show them myself, because there’s a sense of safety there. They want what’s best for me, and they aren’t put off by the bumps, bruises, and tears that come with that journey. There is a beautiful freedom that comes with this sort of love.
In spite of it, there are times when I am less patient or polite with my family than I would be with a complete stranger. The people I love the most, who have given me the most, who are permanent fixtures in my life are the most likely to be the brunt of my temper, my sharp tongue, my sarcasm, my frustration. This is a reality I will admit. But it is not one I’m proud of. If I love these people so deeply, shouldn’t this phenomenon grieve me?
These were my initial thoughts about her comment, the initial tilting of the head, raising of the eyebrows. But then it went a bit deeper.
“My true self” she said. “My true self” is that which is impatient and rude. “My true self” is that which is sinful. Or is it?
When we accept Christ, we become a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). We are, in one sense, fully made new, dead to sin, alive in a new realm of Christ-like living. In another sense, we are at the beginning of a life-long journey of becoming like Christ, of finding His presence leave an ever deeper mark on who we are. We are new. We are seeing ourselves be made new. All at the same time.
In this sense, our “true” self is what we’re becoming. Our true self forgives freely because we know how much we’ve been forgiven. It is long-suffering and kind because we know how deeply God’s grace flows. It loves freely, unconditionally, without expecting repayment because we know we can never repay the love of God in Jesus Christ. Our true self is the one that looks like Jesus.
Jesus showed us humanity in its truest form. Communion with God. Unencumbered by sin. Intent on the Father’s pleasure and will. Full of compassion. The perfect fullness of truth and grace, justice and mercy, love and holiness.
Although it is all we know now, our slavishness to sin is abnormal. It gives birth to a false self, one distorted by the deceit of pride and selfishness. It gives us a faulty picture of reality.
Our sinful selves are not our true selves, not the way we are meant to be, and (thank God) not where He is content to let us remain. So we can say, when we see our impatience, our rudeness, our ingratitude, our less-than-love, this is not who I am, and this is not who I am becoming. We can focus our eyes on who God our Father has declared us to be and who He is redeeming us to be, and we can take another tiny step forward toward who we really are. Another step toward holiness. Another step toward mirroring who Christ is. This is our true self.