Have you ever had the opportunity to hear a recording of your voice? Were you surprised by how you sounded? Personally, I’m a bit shocked and certainly not so pleased with how I sound on a recording. What I have discovered is that the resonance of my voice in my head and that which comes through my ears is significantly different. (Here, I place no value on content but merely how it sounds) How I would describe my voice can be quite different than how others would describe it.
The difference is perspective. I sound different to myself than to others.
The same can be true about the way we see ourselves versus the way others see us (or how we fear they may see us). This perspective is not about our physical appearance but about who we are, our identity. Often our identity is developed from our circumstances, family, how others see us, or how we want others to see us. It’s about how we appear to ourselves versus others. It’s about who we think and feel we are versus how others see us.
How can we do a better job of seeing ourselves? Not just our impression, but the true us?
First, find a reliable standard for evaluation. It is easy to compare ourselves to someone we see on social media or in the entertainment industry. Perhaps it’s an athlete, politician, or performer to which we compare ourselves or seek to immolate? There’s a growing number of “reality” TV shows where people perform, are evaluated, and seek to win the recognition of others. If we are honest, these may be tempting models.
Be cautious; these many worldly models or standards can be hypocrites.
Wait, hold the judgment and revulsion. “Hypocrite” comes from the Greek word hypokrites. It literally translates as “an interpreter from behind/underneath.” Ancient Greek actors wore masks and portrayed their roles from behind a mask. You saw the character being portrayed, not the real actor. The actors hid who they really were behind the mask that was seen.
Be careful that you do not seek to be like someone else’s persona.
If we’re honest, it’s tempting to put on a “mask” or persona so that people cannot see the real us but the person we want them to see. We put on the mask of who we want to be, covering up who we are because if they see the real us, we fear we won’t be loved or accepted. Guess what, it’s very likely that the person you desire to be like is wearing a mask as well! If you seek to be like them, you’ll be acting like the image they are portraying, possibly not the real them. Uncovering your true self is to learn to put away your mask and to learn to love who you are or who you can become. But if I do that, people won’t like or love me.
Uncovering who you are means beginning to be honest with yourself and others.
This kind of honesty requires great courage but will also be transformational. It takes so much energy to play a life role. Use that energy to help transform who you are into who God desires you to become. He has a plan more marvelous than you can imagine.
Have you ever thought about how God sees you? Not the mask but the person behind the mask? Paul penned these words, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT). In another passage, Paul writes that God let Christ die for us while we were still His enemies.
God, knowing exactly who you are behind the mask, loved you enough to send His Son to die for you so that He could have a personal relationship with you!
Being honest means I’m willing to stop thinking about how I or others see me and begin believing that God sees me as valuable, even when I don’t feel like it or agree. Remember the advice about finding a reliable standard to evaluate who we are? Here’s the question, “Are you going to trust your opinion or the opinion of others about you over that of God?” Who is the better judge here, God or you? God says your value to Him is worth the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. That’s who you are to Him! You may not yet believe or feel like that, but the first step is to begin acting like it. Remember words from a previous blog, “It’s easier to act yourself into a new way of feeling than to feel yourself into a new way of acting.”
Start acting like you are worthy of God’s love and the feelings will begin to follow.
Another truth you must begin to accept is that believers have been transformed at their new birth and are continuing to be transformed into the image/identity of Christ. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NLT). More clearly stated, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT).
Perhaps the hardest part of understanding your true identity is letting go of the old, false one.
We cling to the old, crippled us because it is comfortable and familiar. We hang on because of the pain or fear of pain in changing. We live in the old self because we trust our image of ourselves above that of God. No matter how you feel or think, God has and is changing your identity. He determines the true you, not your family, your friends, others, or even yourself. Your true self is who God says you are, not who others do. Allow Him to transform you. He sees you more clearly than anyone else! Perhaps the toughest part of the new life is to remain dead to who you were.
Feelings play a role in uncovering your true identity.
Feelings are there for a purpose. God gave you the ability to feel and be an emotional person. Much can be written about feelings, but here are some things that you can trust. If you base your decisions and truth on feelings alone, feelings will change and leave you doubting the truth based upon them. Feelings are not a reliable basis for decision making. The one thing you can trust about feelings is that they will change. Also, feelings are neither good nor bad. Have you ever said, “I feel this way, and it’s wrong?” Maybe, “I’m going to do this because it feels right.” The way you “feel” in a situation is usually an uncontrollable emotional response to the situation; therefore, feelings cannot be right or wrong. They can, however, be inappropriate for the situation. Feeling like you are worthless when God sees you as a person of value is not wrong, but it is inappropriate for the situation. God has a much better perspective than you do. You must always ask yourself if your feelings are appropriate for the situation.
Let the truth of God begin to shape your feelings.
You’ve heard the warning, “don’t try this at home!” A word of wisdom, it’s best not to attempt to understand your true self alone. A trusted friend can help you as you seek to discover your true identity. An even better help can be a trained minister or counseling professional. They can help you learn to see your true self until you learn to do it better on your own.
Staying rooted in God’s Word is a great way to not only know the truth of God but to consistently let it impact the way you think and feel about your true self. Download the Courage For Life Bible app so you can have God’s Word at your fingertips any time you need encouragement.