I grew up in a church, school, and a neighborhood where i often worried about what others thought of me. I listened carefully to what my family and friends said about me, and then tried hard to control those perceptions by molding and shaping my personality so i could be one of the gang, and fit in well.
I did a good job trying to live my life in the good graces of others but the effort was mentally exhausting, and I often became frustrated when despite my good-hearted efforts, some people in my life rejected me.
I realize now how much my self-image and security were tied to the ups and downs of whether i felt like i was a good person or a bad person based on outer circumstances and others’ opinions.
As i grow older i am coming to a better place i call the authentic self. A place where who i am and what i believe is acceptable to me. A place of Authenticity.
This place of the authentic self is much less tied to what others think about me, but rather centered more in what i discern about who i am in God’s eyes.
I still have to be careful that i don’t justify my actions or beliefs through the lens of my ego, but now the process of discovering who i am is much less tied to others and more and more tied to listening to my soul.
Lee Goodwin describes this process of moving toward the authentic self with these words:
“The deep call in any discernment is to trust. God who is with us in all things is not only with us in our ‘best’ decisions. Behind the choices we make lies the ground for such choosing, which is an awareness of God’s presence. For me, growing discernment has to do with fine-tuning the ‘eyes and ears’ of the heart-listening and watching. ”
In short, the journey of self-discovery i am realizing is not between me and others, but rather between me and God—and my discernment of God’s deepest desires for me.
Hence, there is a growing sense in me that just as i will spend the rest of my life discovering more and more about the mystery of God, so too i will spend the rest of my life discovering more about the mystery of me. And somehow these two paths of discovery are one in the same.
Game plan: Notice how much your self- image is tied to what others think of you or your perception of what they think. What would happen if you chose to view yourself from your authentic self and the discernment of how God sees you, and is inviting you into deeper wholeness? What would you have to let go of to move toward this place of inner freedom?