Who Do You Think You Are?

What do you think is the truest thing about you?  If we cut through all the ways we pretend we’re okay, how would you describe the real you? Would you say, “The truest thing about me is that I’m a loser, a failure, and a dropout. I’m the person who tries-real-hard-but-never-succeeds?” Or would you say, “The truest thing about me is that if you really knew me you wouldn’t like me?”Every one of us needs to wade through many layers of self-protective sophistication and unearth our real self-perception because what we think is true about us is a powerful force in our lives.  This force is greatly shaped by the level of our inner shame – that deep sense we have lost or will lose the respect of others due to our failures. Guilt and shame often get confused, but they are very different emotional landscapes.  Guilt produces the belief that “What I’ve done is wrong!” Shame, on the other hand, is the more tricky emotional landscape because it produces the belief that “Who I am is wrong!”  This internal sense of being wrong just because of who we are is usually shaped by three profound life experiences.  First, shame is formed in our most vulnerable moments. In all my years of pastoral ministry I’ve discovered that a single moment of victimization holds more power over us than hundreds of moments of success.  Second, our shame is formed by what significant people told us about ourselves in our most vulnerable moments.  Finally, shame is formed by the conclusions we made about ourselves in our most vulnerable moments as those conclusions are rarely examined or called into question. All of these experiences create a self-perception we believe no matter what evidence is presented. Since most of us never question our self-perception, our lives become defined by the belief: “I am a dud of a human being.” This lie is incredibly inhibiting because it shapes us into people who are afraid to let anybody know the real us.  It’s also incredibly isolating because it forms us into people who are afraid to let anyone get too close to us.Jesus Christ provides a remarkable solution for the shame that so greatly shapes our self-perception. Usually, when we bring God into a discussion of our self-perception it’s usually associated with two thoughts that go something like, “God probably agrees with what I know to be true of me!” or “God knows everything about me so He probably has an even worse opinion of me than I have of myself!”  Nothing could be further from the biblical truth.  God does not agree with our broken assessment of ourselves, and though He knows us even more than we know ourselves, He actually likes what He sees. In order to reframe our broken self-perception with truth we must pause and examine what the Bible says.  We must ask the all-important question “according to the Bible, what does God see in me?”  When God looks at an individual who has accepted His free gift of eternal and abundant life through Jesus, what does He really see, and what does He really think when He looks at us? Stay tuned . . .