For most of my life my false self protected me from the pain of rejection (what others might think, which was important to me) by burying the feelings of caring, pretending it didn’t matter, and bulling through life – arranging it in the way he pleased. But ultimately driven to create an acceptable facade which would garner the very praise he appeared to shun. Being known as “a nice guy”, or a “good man” became first my protection and finally my prison. No one was able to truly know me, and the thought of being truly known became terrifying – even as my heart of hearts longed for it. I suspected that my truest self would fail the test, as I wondered “am I enough?”and “Can the me of very me have any value?”. Then finally my world crashed down around my shoulders like the prodigal son’s and I was forced into a choice of either strengthening my facade or sacrificing it on the altar of love. In anguish I cried to the Father, “will you take me, this mess, as I am?”, and before the words were fully completed He rushed to take me in his arms with a joyful “YES!”. I had been a Christian since a young child, but then I began to really know who this God is and fell in love with him as I experienced his overwhelming love for the me of very me. My heart of hearts. My truest self.
Now my false self has been brought into the light of day – or rather the light of the Life of Jesus. What My truest self does is an outflow of that Life. It comes out of an intimate relationship with Jesus. That tender intimacy which “awakens within the security of knowing we are thoroughly and sincerely liked by someone. The mere presence of that special someone in a crowded room brings an inward sigh of relief and a strong sense of feeling safe. The experience of a warm, caring affective presence banishes our fears. The defense mechanisms of the imposter – sarcasm, name-dropping, self-righteousness, the need to impress others – fall away. We become more open, real, vulnerable, and affectionate. We grow tender.”
Being unconcerned with what others think is no longer a reaction born out of a fear of rejection, but a response flowing from intimately knowing Jesus and experiencing his delight in me. Jesus has transformed my fear of people into a love for them, and that has made all the difference.