Since the last post seemed have struck a chord with y’all (I received quite a response!) I wanted to pick up where we left off, and give you my two best “signposts” for how to move forward in this whole allow-your-false-self-to-be-chiseled-away thing.
Signpost #1: Keep your eyes fixed on our merciful, loving Father
There is something in our human nature that desperately wants to hold on to the false self – we can each count on that! In our own lives, we each embody and live out the mystery of iniquity, the mystery of sin and salvation. And though we may know or believe this in our minds, when we run smack into our own inner resistance we ‘know’ this reality of our own iniquity in quite another way – and it can be helpful to simply count on that being a part of this process from the start, so we don’t get too discouraged or surprised when pride rears its head once again.
This experience that something in us desperately clings to the false self is part of why we, especially as moderns, really can’t “discipline” our pride away, or squelch our own false self. Our part, as far as I can see, is really about actively and intentionally keeping ourselves OPEN. Open to change, open to seeing the parts about ourselves we don’t like, open to how others see us – to sum it up, OPEN to how our good, good Father is speaking to us though every single circumstance of our lives.
And it wouldn’t make sense to […] ask God to chisel away at us if He weren’t the God of love, if He weren’t our loving Father with our own salvation and joy at heart. – Fr J. Kentenich
I think we have to spend much, much more time really letting that sink it. It’s almost as if we could seek for this little prayer to be the background rhythm of our thinking: “God is Father, God is good, Everything he does is good.” * Sounds simple, but I have found it to be a really radical way to approach life. Everything he does it good…? Everything works to the good of those who love God….? Yep. Everything.
Of course it’s much easier to say it than to really grasp it when we’re faced with injured feelings, smarting pride, or brooding self-righteousness. How is this helping again, Lord? What was the point of me falling flat on my face again? No, but really…what are You wanting to teach me through this moment? How are You speaking to me right now, through this? Here’s a few more words to help your heart sink a little deeper into what it means to really see life this way:
“You look on us a Father,
and let us share in the happiness of your Son.
Everything which you send to us
is for our souls’ eternal salvation.
Each suffering is a greeting from You
which lends wings to our souls,
powerfully setting the course of our lives
and renewing the vigor of our striving.
It compels us to renew our decision
to be ready for Christ
until he alone lives and works in us
and in us reaches out to You.
Just as the sunflower turns
to the sun which richly endows it
we turn with heart and mind
to you, Father, in faith.” *
Signpost #2: I already love you (so quit working so hard).
As we continually grow in our capacity to rest in the truth that God is our loving, merciful Father, we can progressively let go of that frenetic energy that is the ceaseless striving of the false self. We run around all day trying to get our sense of self from things, from relationships, from our jobs, etc. And those earthly things are always only able to give our house a foundation as good as sand…
Andrew Peterson puts it so well in his song, Rest Easy:
“You work so hard to wear yourself down. And you’re running like a rodeo clown / You’re smiling like you’re scared to death / You’re out of faith and all out of breath / You’re so afraid you’ve got nowhere left to go / Well, you are not alone. / I will always be with you.
You don’t have to work so hard/ You can rest easy / You don’t have to prove yourself/ you’re already mine. / You don’t have to hide your heart, I already love you / I hold it in mine, so you can rest easy.”
Now of course this doesn’t mean this ain’t hard work. It’s hard because it’s uncomfortable and our ego simply does not want to die. But I have found that after a few sparks have flown, after we’ve let the Master Carver shave off a few good bits, that it does get easier – because we start to taste the relief and freedom that He really means for us as children of God.
It is these glimpses of security in Him, these moments in which our solid, true self looks up and says, “Oh – this is what I was made for…” These are the moments that can encourage us to get back up, hop back onto God’s workbench again and say, I’m ready Lord. I’m open, and help me to be continuously more open to your plan of love for me…
“From the desire of being esteemed, From the desire of being extolled, From the desire of being consulted…deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, From the fear of being forgotten, From the fear of being wronged …Deliver me, Jesus.
That others be loved more than I, Others esteemed more than I,
That others increase and I decrease, in the world’s eyes,
That others be chosen and I set aside, Others praised and I unnoticed,
Others be preferred in everything…
That others become holier than I, Provided that I may become as holy as I should.
O Jesus, grant me the grace, Oh grant me the grace to desire it.
Meek and humble of heart, Jesus…Meek and humble of heart, heal us!”***Fr Joseph Kentenich
** Danielle’s Rose’s Litany of Humility