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.
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