Friday, August 25, 2006

I would be authentic if I could figure out who I am!

God is an artist in sea and sand. This is a view from the beach of Hunting Island looking back over the bay toward Fripp Island, South Carolina.

I'll be 30 years old in November. This seems like a milestone, but I thought I was turning 30 last year until my mother set me straight. So, I guess this year's a kind of do-over. In his book A Resilient Life (try not to focus on the cheesy Christian plug, it's really a wise book), Gordon MacDonald writes about the questions we face at each decade of our lives. About the thirties, he writes: "Thirty-somethings find themselves asking, why am I not a better person?"

That's true. Why am I not a better person? (What does better mean, anyhow? Better than what?)

As I've been thinking about this, I've come to understand the difference between my flesh and my heart. I've always just thought that my flesh was the most genuine part of me, that if I were boiled to bones in a cast-iron pot, my flesh would be what remained. It's a wretched and disabling thought that my core identity springs from the part of me that speaks harshly to my husband, curses my friends behind their backs, is lazy, selfish and cowardly. Nevertheless, I've subjected myself to that idea for the whole of my life. I've stood in front of the mirror, seen the parts of myself most twisted and warped by the Fall of Man and said "This is who you really are. Now, you've got to work really hard to keep anyone from finding out!" Evil was whispering in my ear. What a lie.

I'm recently able to peek out from all of the self-protective layers and hear the voice of the Holy Spirit say to me: You know that part of yourself you've been hiding? That part of yourself you thought was the most real? Not only is that part of you not the biggest, it's not even real. I fixed that a long time ago. I don't remember it. Nobody remembers it. It doesn't drive you. It doesn't control you. What are you hiding from? If your new heart is at your core, there isn't anything to hide.


Zoethiopia said...

I've just put your blog on my favourites -- for thought provoking images and talk. Thanks! I suggest you look at "Alli in Addis" my teacher colleague here in Ethiopia.

susan said...

Thank you for reading! How in the world did you find this blog?


Carla said...

We should hang out again soon

susan said...


John in Birmingham said...

But don't you think the "natural man" is still a real part of the Christian? Yes, sin has been finally conquered by Christ. But isn't the "authentic" believer really sort of a schizophrenic? You know, "simultaneously justified and sinful"? Granted, the "old nature" is passing away and will be thoroughly vanquished in the life to come. Also granted that, as a believer, I don't like him and wish to be rid of him. I guess I just still think of him as part of me -- specifically, the unperfected part. But shame over the old nature doesn't apply anymore because of the gospel, which I think is a big part of what you were saying.

susan said...


I do believe that we're sinful and that we will act according to the flesh until we're glorified. Positionally, we're justified,but we do still sin. The truth that I'm starting to get is that we will be glorified and this flesh that clings to us is fading away and doesn't have the power over us that it used to. Hopefully, Christ increases and that part of us decreases. Like you said, I do think that the shame of our old ways is removed because Jesus really did make us able to tase some of what we would have been if we were never sinners. I hope that makes some kind of sense!!!

I had the BEST BREAKFAST EVER with JCP this morning. Yum Eggs Benny.


ersatz said...

I love the title of your post. I've wanted to say it so many times, but couldn't find those words.

I've moved so many times in the past few years that I used to be afraid of returning to visit these places. I remember back to stupid things I've done (which come to mind much easier than the good times) and I'm positive that people will think of those things right when they see me. I'm always looking over my back at my past.

Now, after realizing some of the things you talked about, I step forward with my present instead of my past. I have changed, hopefully for the better, definitely not for the best. I have let go of how I thought people looked at me, because that always becomes how I look at myself.

I'm confusing myself now. I hope some of this made a little sense. But I enjoyed your post, and I'm just as confused as you are.

susan said...

Hi, ersatz,

I'm so glad you read that entry. I can so identify with your desire to avoid the places you used to live when you were a different person. I was a different person in college and shortly thereafter and I don't like to see the people I knew back then or to spend time in the places I used to live. I don't know why, really, but I don't like it. My husband feels that way, too, so I know we're not alone in that sentiment!

You might be confusing yourself, but what you're writing makes perfect sense. We can't let other folks decide who we are! The can't see our hearts or decide what our attitudes are. (That's one of the things that bothered me about what that guy wrote on B.T.M.'s blog. How can that dood know what B.T.M's attitude is?)

We aren't what we were and we're not what we will be. I think that's a hopeful thought.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.