Today’s post is inspired by two comments I saw/heard last week. The first was a quote shared in a Christian group on Facebook. The quote is from Dale Partridge and it goes like this: “The motto ‘be yourself’ has become Satan’s counterfeit to God’s ‘be holy as I am holy’.”
Since the tagline for my blog is “Finding our true selves in the people God created us to be,” I don’t think it will surprise any of you that I have a different take on the advice to be yourself. Before we dive into that, though, I want to tell you about the other thing that prompted this post.
I listened to episode 45 of the Awaken With JP Sears Show, titled “Radical Self-Discovery with Jator Pierre.” In this episode, one of the key topics they discussed is the importance of being able to speak “your truth” and the dangers that PC culture poses to that idea. “Your truth” is part of who you are and what you have to offer the world. It’s neither healthy nor socially desirable to have people silence that.
While I loved the discussion, the idea of “your truth” is a bit problematic for Christians because it implies multiple versions of truth whereas God is very clear that He is the only source of truth. But when someone talks about the idea of having “your truth” as part of being an authentic weirdo is that really something followers of Jesus Christ should freak out about? Perhaps there is a way to be yourself and be an authentic Christian as well.
Your Truth and God’s Truth
In Jesus’ prayer recorded in John 17, He tells the Father, “Your word is truth.” That’s what Christians base their definition of truth on (or at least we should). God defines truth and He shares that definition in His word, the Bible. We need to search God’s truth and adopt it as our standard for truth, so when each of us speaks “my truth” we are always pointing to God’s truth and acknowledging Him as the source.
The definition for “truth” today is a little broader, though. The way this podcast used the phrase, “your truth” also covers things like being free to say “I’m an athlete” and live in a way authentic to that. It includes the practice of speaking an individual truth by living authentically. For example, “I am a writer, and therefore I prioritize certain things and think in a certain way” is part of my truth (i.e. my true expression of self).
This is truth on a different, lower level than Truth as immutable and defined by God. We are free to have personal truths as long as they do not conflict with God’s truth. This last point cannot be over stated. If there’s ever a conflict between what you feel is right and what God says is right then you’re the one who’s wrong. None of us like to be told we’re wrong but if I’m having a disagreement with the most powerful being in the universe who is also responsible for my creation then it should be pretty obvious which of us is right.
What About Being Yourself?
Let’s go back to that first quote, the one saying “be yourself” is Satan’s counterfeit to God’s “be holy as I am holy.” It can be used that way, just as it can be used as an excuse to avoid personal growth. You’re fine just the way you are, this lie says, so focus on being that. Really, though, that’s not the intended application of “be yourself.”
Being yourself is about expressing your own unique authenticity. To do that well you need to understand who you are. And I believe that can only be done at a truly authentic and meaningful level by getting in touch with the One who created you. He knows what the authentic you looks like just as a master artist knows what his canvas or ceramic piece is supposed to look like because he’s the one who made the creative decisions.
With that perspective, “be yourself” is one of the best things you can be. If we’re truly ourselves as He created us to be then we will be working toward “be holy as I am holy” in the ways that are authentic to how God created us. Problems with “be yourself” only happen when people define themselves by something outside God.
Finding Ourselves In God
So how do you find your true self in the person God created you to be? It’s a life-long process of self-discovery and God-discovery that can only be done in a close, personal relationship with our Creator. And it’s one of the most exciting things you can possibly do as a human being.
There are so many facets of this topic that we could spend weeks covering them in posts. I already have for some of them, though I think it’s time to start revisiting topics like topics like finding your gifts (my last post on it was written 4 years ago!). And while most of my posts about personality types are not explicitly religious (though some are) learning about your type also plays a role in Christian self-discovery because it tells you about the unique traits you were created with and/or learned while living your life.
God wants to know the real you and He wants to help you figure out who that is. When He knocks on the door of our hearts it is (in part) because He wants to show us how glorious our true selves can be when we let Him clear away all the inauthentic things we’ve picked up from living in a fallen world. The version of you that you become in Him is going to be the most “yourself” that you’ve ever been.
Featured image credit: Free-Photos via Pixabay
3 thoughts on “How to “Be Yourself” as a Christian (and Figure out Who “Yourself” Really Is)”
Last few days and especially today I was struggling to understand how my own personal life fits into my relationship with God. Sometimes when I try to draw closer to God I feel fear, but I also know that it is my own fear of being unworthy, unacceptable or oppressed. I asked God to help me overcome this confusion. He brought me to your article and I wish to thank you for writing it, because it has been very helpful! I never write comments under articles or videos, but I understand now that it is simply out of my own pride. Most of the time I just appropriate the insight for myself without acknowledging my debt to the author, but I now see that it is wrong.
Here is a little summary of what I learned from you, hope I understood you correctly:
“What you God want me to be is who I truly am, so I have nothing to fear when Satan threatens me saying “God is trying to oppress you!” This is Satan himself trying to oppress me because he is afraid of being cast out of my soul by God, and my true desire to become good is precisely God’s desire, in fact, it comes from Him! Obviously this fear is also connected to the parts in me that actually do need to be changed by God, so I must be careful not to equate all discomfort with Satan’s deception – part of it is genuine fear of God who will not allow me to be content with the sin that is within me.”
I must admit that this ability to discern between the fear brought by Satan’s threats and doubts on the one hand, and the fear of God who justly points out my sin on the other, is still very little developed in me. I thank God for at least letting me understand the difference, because without it I would be completely lost in Satan’s hellish deceptions, but I realize how much attention I have to pay to this if I am to finally live “my own life in obedience to God” without shame and fear.
With gratitude and love,
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Thank you so much for your comment, Richard 🙂 I’m happy you found this post helpful!
I think discerning between fear and doubts that come from Satan and the fear we can feel when God points out our sin is a skill that can take a long time for Christians to develop, though as you mentioned recognizing that there is a difference is a great first step. Praying for discernment is also a big help
One thing I like to keep in mind for figuring that difference out is that John tells us, “perfect love casts out fear because fear has torment.” The sort of tormenting fear that makes us want to hide from God is not good. In contrast, the fear we feel toward God is born out of reverence for Him and prompts us to move away from sin, ultimately freeing us and making us less afraid.
Thank You for the article. It helped in in many ways. I’ve been struggling with myself lately.
Like I don’t know who I am, I can’t recognize myself and it affects how I always have second thoughts to my actions, to what I think, to what I like and such. I get confused if I am being myself or I am following a standard…if I am trying to please people or doing what I like and also fear of being selfish.
I get confused if I should do what I like…or just follow God and what he likes. Then again the artucle made me realize certain things. God knows who I truly am and what he wants for me would be something I would want. I shouldn’t seperate myself with God.
I’ll trust God all the more, and have faith that I will find myself with and through Him.
I am still learning. I’m still confused in many ways but thank you for reminding me that God is there…as always, He loves me and He will help me became my true self, knowing the fact I was made in his likeness.
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