“There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.” -Thomas Merton
If you and I sat down by a crackling fire, with warm drinks in hand and I simply asked you, “So tell me, who are you?” I wonder how you’d answer.
In my experience (with both myself and others) most of us respond by saying something of what we do (I work for Invesco, or I run this non-profit, or I am a doctor, dentist, teacher, banker, CEO) or sometimes we respond by saying something of what we have (I am married, I live in Platt Park, have 2 kids and 4 grandkids.)
These are natural and normal responses and they tell something about us that is important, but they do not answer the question: Who are you? Speaking about what you do or speaking about what you have is entirely different from speaking of who you are.
Psalm 139 says, “For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”
There is a you – a true self – that existed before you were able to do or have anything. Formed and fashioned by a loving God, that you will live on into eternity.
Have you noticed how rare it is to meet a fully authentic person? The trouble is we all have a tremendous ability to try on different identities throughout our lives. We tend to think of this as a “stage” that teenagers go through, but over the years of adulthood we will have countless identities but only in one will we find our true self. We are all so adept at wearing masks and taking up false selves, identities that are not really who God formed and fashioned us to be in the quiet, secret, eternal place.
Some folks emphasize “knowing God” and others emphasize “knowing self” but in reality, these two must go hand in hand.
If you find your true self, you find God and if you find God you find your true self. Becoming your true self in Christ is what it means to be fully authentic.
I imagine all heaven is just giddy with delight when you and I embrace our true selves in Christ. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”