“Coincidences”

“Coincidences”

It is interesting how God has the capacity and inclination to bring things together that cause us to take to heart the lessons He wants us to learn.
Jim McManus’ lecture today had to do with the difference in us between our true self and our false self. The “false” self is not so much a hypocritical self. It is not so much that we are deceitfully pretending to be what we are not. Rather our “false” self (or our “ideal” self as Henry Cloud refers to it in the book Changes that Heal) is the kind of person we want to be and the kind of person we strive to be, but it is not are “true” self for we are not always that person we wish to be.

One of the great dangers we face with concern to our false self and our true self has to do with an inability to accept our true self when who we really are does not match up with who we want to be and/or who we think we ought to be.

By “coincidence” these are the very chapters I happen to be reading in Henry Cloud’s book Changes that Heal. By “coincidence” this happens to be some of the stuff God wants to address with me in my personal life.

I want to be a good person. I want to be a kind, considerate, patient, loving, understanding, persevering, righteous person. I want to be a good husband. I want to be a good neighbor. I want to be a good citizen. Unfortunately, I do not always live up to what I want to be. When I do not live up to what I want to be (when I do not live up to my “ideal” self), I have the strong tendency to get very down on myself, to berate myself, to kick myself.

I know that God is holy. When I have to face the fact that I am not holy I do not tend to hold together very well God’s call to me to be holy along with His abiding grace toward me.

Gratefully, this is especially where God is “coincidentally” pulling some things together for me. In Henry Cloud’s book I am have found these words of perspective and encouragement: “Good relationship [including my relationship with myself] involves holding on to the ideal and lovingly accepting the real. If the real is loved and accepted, it can be encouraged to grow toward the ideal.” Later he adds, “Acceptance of good and bad is the biblical alternative. It is called grace and truth. In this alternative, we deny neither the ideal nor the bad. We accept and forgive the bad, while clinging to the ideal as an unrealized goal that we strive for in an atmosphere of full acceptance.” I believe that Christ is calling me to hold onto both His call to me to grow into the person He would have me to become while firmly embracing His grace for me along the way.

“Coincidentally,” in another book I finished this morning, The Wisdom of Tenderness, Brennan Manning quotes Julian of Norwich: “Our courteous Lord does not want his servants to despair because they fall often and grievously; for our falling does not hinder him in loving us.”

Most encouraging of all is the quote I shared previously from George MacDonald’s book The Lost Princess. When the princess faces her “true” self and admits to her faults, she asks the wise woman, “How could you love such an ugly, ill-tempered, rude, hateful little wretch?” What MacDonald writes next is powerful: “‘I saw, through it all, what you were going to be,’ said the wise woman, kissing her. ‘But remember you have yet only begun to be what I saw.’” I need to and want to remember that God sees both my true self and what I will become in Him…and He loves me through it all!

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3 responses to ““Coincidences””

  1. Kelli says :

    Yes! Me too! I have no problem encouraging the ideal self in my friends but beat my own self up when I fall short. Powerful! Thanks PT! Praying for your awesome journey!

  2. Debra Tripp says :

    I am glad to read this reminder of God’s grace on a morning when I’m grappling with having been anything but my ‘ideal’ self. God is good to us, and while I am sorry for my failings, I am more able to face them when the need to justify myself it taken away by God’s forgiveness. I may still feel that need, but it is, in truth, an illusion.

  3. Nancy Hull says :

    I love this quote.

    The Wisdom of Tenderness, Brennan Manning quotes Julian of Norwich: “Our courteous Lord does not want his servants to despair because they fall often and grievously; for our falling does not hinder him in loving us.”

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