Sunday, October 03, 2010

To Thine Own Self Be True

Thomas Merton asked the question, "Can you be who you really are with the God who is?"

As I reflected on my life with God my answer to this question has usually been no, I can't. But not because I consciously made the decision that I couldn't be. Somehow over the years I had built up an idea that I needed to show God what a good little Christian I was and I did that by suppressing any negative emotions I may have had about God, about the circumstances of my life, or about others. And it led to staleness and falseness in my life with God.

For example, let's say I had a friend who did something that hurt me unintentionally. My conversation would go something like this:
God, I know I'm supposed to love my friend but right now I'm upset with her. Help me to love her and talk to her about how she hurt me.
But that wasn't the true me.

The true me wanted to say,
God! My friend is such a pain in the ass and I hate how she doesn't think about anybody but herself - she's so selfish and her selfishness pisses me off. Would you give her a smack upside the head for me?
Or perhaps it was during a period of my life when nothing seemed to be going right. My conversation would've gone like this,
God, I know you're good and loving so please help me in my situation. Give me hope that things will change.
My true self wanted to say,
God, it feels like you don't love me and that you don't care that I hate my life right now. Why have you abandoned me? Why do you delight in my failure? Help me!
God wants me to present my true self in conversation with Him. He doesn't want me to clean up my language or my thoughts or my feelings before coming to Him. He's most pleased when I open up my true self to Him trusting Him to resolve the problems of my heart. He doesn't want us to live double lives - one life inside our head, where we reside with all our true emotions, and another cleaned up version of ourselves with Him.

Since practicing the discipline of being totally honest before God, the relief I have felt has been enormous. And God has been so gentle and so tender in His dealings with me.

Honesty, as Stan Laurel would say, truly is the best policy.