This week we continued our study of the Integrated Life with Sean focusing on honesty and humility. Sean described humility as "being who we truly are in God." When we're living in humility we live out of our true essence/self and not the masks we wear. Many of the masks (false self) we put on were developed in childhood as methods to navigate our environment. Even in the healthiest environments, we create masks. Masks are ways of responding to our circumstances that aren't really how we, in our essence, want to respond but become habitual because of the response that we get. For example, the boy who withdraws (when he would rather engage) because it is safer in his family to do so. Or the girl who smiles, acts cute, smart, loving, etc. so the adults around her pay attention when she would really rather just be her ordinary self or play in the mud. We might be apt to say that our false self or masks are bad, but they aren't. They're necessary. We wouldn't have survived childhood without them. They helped us navigate our world and daily interactions. Our mask/false-self becomes problematic, however, when we don't realize that we are wearing it, or living out a life that really isn't ours.
In a host of scriptures Jesus talks about "losing our life, so that we can find it" (Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, John 12:25). God invites us through these scriptures to let go of/ lose our masks and false self so that we can find our true self- the person behind the masks. For the majority of us, this will be a life-long process. Whether we are 20, 50 or 80 years old, this unfolding of our true self can occur. Regardless of our age, however, this process requires us to be honest about who we are and why we function in the world the way we do. Honesty can be scary and leave us feeling vulnerable. But it is only by being aware of and owning the truth that we will be set us free (John 8:32). Twelve Step wisdom teaches,"we're only as sick as our secrets." Hiding behind our masks keeps us sick. Steps toward honesty set us free- free to live without masks, free to be our true self. Our true-self, is "right sized" aka- humble. When we live out our true self we know that we are in God and God is in us. As such, we no longer need to get our needs met by wearing masks or acting out of our false self. We trust that God will meet our needs as we live in union with God and others. We are known, loved, and accepted. This frees us to live in the present without the need of pretense- to be ordinary, to play in the mud, to engage or not.
Reflect this week:
"Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious folks are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular Christian (or human) they are intended to be by God. They never become the person or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their individual lives.
They waste their years in vain efforts to be some other poet, some other saint, (some other person). For many absurd reasons, they are convinced that they are obliged to become somebody else. " Thomas Merton
By Babs May-Clark