As I grow older, and my spiritual quest becomes deeper, I am increasingly aware of the many false images and walls I have built up over the course of my life.
It is not the same as identifying false images ‘out there’ in the world or in society. Identifying false images in myself takes a whole lot more humility, courage, and it hurts a lot more. Why? Because it is impossible for me to come into awareness of these false images on my own. The prerequisite for this awareness is becoming broken – broken in spirit, broken in heart, broken in mind.
The willingness to be broken is counterintuitive to lessons this world teaches. So it is that the walls and false images I have come to idolize without knowing all work against a willingness to be broken. I am driven to protect myself. I am driven to strive – for what? I don’t know, anything that makes me stronger and which will make me more deserving of love. Because despite all of my family’s and friends’ best intentions in my life, deep down I have never believed that I am good enough to be loved and cherished unconditionally. Despite all the happiness I may experience, there is always a seed of doubt that there is a condition hidden somewhere – and that there is no guarantee against abandonment. If I make one false step, perhaps all will turn against me. And I will be alone, and shamed. And so through the years I have learned to live with increasingly many facades of self-assurance and I cling to deep convictions, perhaps as a means to feel grounded and safe.
The scary and yet wonderful thing is that these false images and walls that have been erected in my heart from the very earliest hurts in my life are destined to be exposed and destroyed. Why? Because I have, wisely or foolishly, given myself into God’s keeping.
Throughout my life, I have said many a ‘yes’ to God even as I battle His work in me in almost every aspect of my life. Most of the time, I never know what is at stake when I say ‘yes’. And without fail, after I say ‘yes’, I go through great hardships of spirit to follow through on that ‘yes’. Because saying ‘yes’ to God is in effect giving Him permission to break me – so that I can die to the false self that have become my identity and be born again in my true self.
Among the distorted images within my psyche is a distorted one of God. An image partially born because I cannot yet reconcile the loving, forgiving God of the New Testament with the God of retribution and punishment in the Old Testament. Out of the blue, through someone wise and holy, I have been alerted that I am holding back from God because of the distorted image I have of Him. Could it be that deep down I still fear Him? That despite my trust in His love, the image of God in my psyche is a God who withholds His favour until I have satisfied some impossibly high standard?
It is through yet another experience of being broken that this revelation has come to me. There is so much junk inside of me that need to be cleared. I am helpless and ineffectual to sort through it all. But that’s ok, because God is in the driver’s seat. I just have to enjoy the ride.
My Lord, there is so much within me that I cannot hope to understand – so much of my heart and memory that need to be healed. But this much I can say – that with all my limited heart and understanding, I love you and want to be loved by you.
I ask you, dear Lord, to purge my senses and memory and anything else that hold me back from loving and accepting myself the way you love and accept me. Amen.