Who you are and who you want to be… Do they feel oceans apart?
If you’re feeling a disconnect between the two, you’re not alone and you’re probably exhausted.
The battle between True Self and False Self is more common than you know. What is true is you are created in love by God for a purpose. But, this broken world takes a toll on that vulnerable, soft, true core. So, the “True Self” gives way to the “False Self.”
In this episode, Josh and Kit expose the masks and fronts we use for what they are – survival mechanisms. And, you were made for much more than just survival. We hope you’ll join us as we explore another step in your spiritual journey.
Unraveling the mask to discover your true self, to live in freedom; this is your next step on ‘Becoming Whole.”
our false self is often created by pain and pain is often a way we discover our way to our true self
When we can embrace the identity God has given us that’s real and solid then we can have a sense of stability that defines our life
Let’s have courage to feel the pain and to allow God to unravel us
Take some time to list your core needs – your need to be seen, to have a deep connection, to be affirmed of your goodness and value, to know your existence is necessary.
Now take some time to think on how you’re meeting those needs.
Read Ephesians 1:3-6 and repeat to yourself; I am accepted. I am redeemed. I am covered by grace.
Hear God’s words, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) and accept His invitation to face Him as you are.
Allow God to search your heart and ask God in. Try reading Psalm 139 as your heart’s prayer.
“The Hidden Life: Awakened” by Kitty Crenshaw
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” James 1:2-4
“Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm has already been lavished upon us as a love gift from our wonderful Heavenly Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus – all because he sees us wrapped into Christ. This is why we celebrate him with all our hearts! And he chose us to be his very own, joining us to himself even before he laid the foundation of the universe! Because of his great love, he ordained us, so that we would be seen as holy in his eyes with an unsustained innocence. For it was always his perfect plan to adopt us as his delightful children, through our union with Jesus, the Anointed One, so that his tremendous love that cascades over us would glorify his grace – for the same love he has for his Beloved One, Jesus, he has for us. And this unfolding plan brings him great pleasure! Ephesians 1: 3-6 TPT
“We can be so busy being in the world for God that we fail to be in God for the world.” -Dr. M. Robert Mulholland Jr.
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
There are basically two ways to be in the world, we can do our own thing, trusting our own ability to live life well on our own, or we can trust God and allow him to be in charge. So there’s a lot of gray area, experientially in between those, but those are our choices. And within those choices lies this concept. We have a true self, the self that was created by God, and we have a false self, self that was created by us and is shaped by the world and our experiences.
Yes, and a primary part of our spiritual journey is to clarify and understand these two ways of being in the world. And that’s what we want to talk about today. What Does this journey look like the journey from living as our false self, to instead living as our true self in Christ, where we’re surrendered to God and our life really is centered in him?
Yes. Okay, why don’t why don’t we start by this list? You What, what do you mean? What do we mean when we talk about the true self and the false self?
I like using this word picture that it’s been really helpful for me to understand what these terms mean. And it seems helpful when I explain it to other people. And I first read this in a book that I really love, called the hidden life by Kinney Crenshaw, and how she describes these concepts is this way. When you are created in love by God, he forms this vulnerable, true, strong, tender, true self made in His image. And it’s unique, unique to you and when you’re born You’re born into a broken world. And soon very soon you discover that this world is not safe. And as you grow up, you begin to protect that tender true self from harm. You make her up as a little child told that you’re selfish, you’re lazy, you’ll never amount to anything or subtle things. Like you know, if you please male love you, whatever it is, you begin to develop a kind of casing around this vulnerable, true self, creating your own self, that strives to be what the people in your world want you to be the thing the person that they’re telling you to be like a people pleaser, someone that finds their value in accomplishing things, and that casing becomes your false self that you present to the world. Does that Yeah.
Yeah. So I mean, I get this. This picture of like the casing is like, can be anything from like a costume, a suit of armor. wall you hide behind. I mean exponentially. Yeah, I mean, I think I spent a lot of years and there’s still ways that I, I’m trying to untwist this in my own life where I kind of almost imagine I have to project, some other image of who I really am or I’m not going to be able to succeed, people will not respect me, I’m going to fail, I’m going to lose what’s valuable to me, etc, etc. And so that that idea of like, whatever that is that we’re trying to present, that’s the false self. At the same time, I think the other thing that comes up to me and maybe a question about that, to me is, is it doesn’t seem like the false self is all something that I create, I mean, almost feels like there. There can be other people who have, whether it’s through affirming the false self. So it kind of bolsters and bolsters it up or through telling me things about myself that aren’t true that are. Well, let me ask you like in this paradigm from Katie Couric Contrast book is, is the false self always a positive looking thing or, like I my impression the false so it can also be a negative looking thing, something that you kind of you’re carrying around projecting to the world and putting out there, but it really is not. Very good.
So, yeah, I think it can be a combination. And the bottom line is it’s not real, it’s not true. It’s something that you’re pretending is true or mustering up to be true or, you know, thinking that it will be what other people want. And so there’s no integrity to it.
Yeah, yeah. So the goal that we’re after in the spiritual journey with Lord, one of the one of our goals is is to become not self made, to succeed or to fail or whatever, but rather to let ourselves be created beings made by God, and if He created us, then who are we, right, that’s, yeah, that’s the journey towards the true self.
And in some ways, I think this is important to point out that ego driven power have us, you know, when we’re growing up can actually help us in some developmental things, you know, but at some point, you know, Jesus will come into your life and say you don’t need that anymore. You know, you don’t need that anymore. I’m going to show you who you really are. So let’s unravel that false self. And all the things that kind of keep you stuck there. And it can be painful, but that’s the way you find freedom.
So let me stop you there kids. So so I’m imagining this, this wall or the suit of armor or this image that that someone’s portraying, because that’s how I’ve got to survive in my family. That’s how I’m gonna survive at school as having survived my workplace. Mm hmm. But you just said there’s there can be developmentally a season where that’s actually a helpful thing. So tell me about that.
Well, like if you’re trying to get through difficulty in middle school, and, you know, you’ve got a part of you that’s, you know, maybe your You’re not really able to be vulnerable, but you’re willing to like, you know, you you’re like, able to stand strong in ways that you don’t feel you are. But in some ways developmentally while you’re continuing to grow and mature and discovering more about your true self, that false self might be, might be developmentally helpful.
So, so could we say, because it because in adolescence, for example, actually, through a lot of childhood, part of part of development is is trying on some different identities, getting a sense of like, you know, who am I that’s, that’s different than we’re talking about here. I think what we’re talking about here is like a putting on not as a ham just I’m trying to share who I am but rather putting on because I don’t think that who I am is actually going to work, right. So it’d be safe to say that this is what you just described as it the helpful. It’s not something that we prescribe. It’s not the ideal, but it’s kind of a survival mechanism for somebody who doesn’t have somebody helping them. To learn, you know mentally, who they really are, and that there’s value to them. Okay? All right. All right, great. So, so you were on pain, and I stopped you, because I don’t like talk about that. No.
So interestingly, our false self is often created by pain, but pain is often also a way to discover our way to our true self. You know how I know James, he writes, Consider it pure joy. Because, you know, the testing of your faith produces perseverance, let perseverance finish its work. So you can be mature and complete, not lacking anything. You know, so in our difficulties in life, we can be we can see how our false self leads us astray. And so we can begin to realize this isn’t working, you know, for example, in sexual temptation or addiction, many of us are acting out of false self beliefs that we’ve brought with us from our early lives.
Yeah, so So if I’m understanding correctly, like it’s, it’s False sales created in pain. So let’s let’s just make a scenario here. So, a kid with with little support at home or maybe a little little emotional connection, goes to school is bullied at school and learns to project this, this false self of being tough for a bad kid or, you know, whatever the false self might be as a protective mechanism, that that is just his way of surviving his or her way surviving. But at some point in life, the needs for deep connection needs to be seen needs to have help working through the emotional stuff going on. The need to to even have someone affirm the goodness that you know the value, you know, you exist and you being here as a good thing, or better because you’re here, your gift to the world credit, I mean, those kinds of, you know, core needs of the soul. those are those are not gonna be met through the false self. And so, whatever the acting out is, whether it’s through you know, being mean to fellow Students are withdrawing or cutting or running to pornography or sleeping around or whatever it might be they still don’t answer those deep needs and so the pain of those needs going on or the pain even of those behaviors now produce themselves leads a person or can lead a person to begin saying this isn’t working like something there’s a disconnect between who I want to be and who I’m living as something something like that. Yeah. All right, that was off the cuff So yeah, I mean, I think that I think like any anytime we’re living from our false self we’re living apart from who God made us to be in union with him with healthy relations other people like it doesn’t work long term. We’re going to we’re going to hit a spot we’re either going to be exhausted, we’re going to wreck something the sideways living or doing is itself going to going to trip us up and damage us. Yeah, and we see people walking in here every week who you know whether it’s through an extramarital affair or or an addiction to pornography. or past sexual abuse they’ve never dealt with and inability to build healthy relationships today to be honest people mean all that stuff is, is connected to the, to the false self. So
yeah, and we can get really caught up in searching looking for, you know the sense of stability and we we can look for external things but you can’t have a stable sense of self, it can’t exist if we place our identity in these external things because when circumstances change, then your sense of identity, your well being is constantly threatened. You know, so when we, when we can embrace the identity that God has given us, that’s real and solid. And then we can have a sense of stability that that defines our life. Because like that, so that true self is kind of who you are in God before God and the false self is who you’re trying to become all the time. You know, I’m dancing as fast as I can, trying to become this or that. And that’s very precarious and exhausting.
Yeah, yeah, I mean I it’s hard to hold up a mask it’s hard to I mean if you if you got a true self and you have a false self and you’re basically trying to trying to maintain two lives and that’s exhausting and I think the other thing that that and this goes back to some some things about shame that if we’re not willing to face those areas that we’re struggling to accept about ourselves we’re not we’re not willing to face some of our own pain and and I think one of the worst scenarios is is when someone has worked hard on building a false self and that false self is actually getting lots of praise and yes, because because what happens on the other side of that wall or behind the the armor is that the person then has to like work their tail off to keep that up, and they’re not receiving any of the any of the benefits because it’s you know, if if you’re praising the armor that I’ve learned to wear, then inside Ivan this message of shame that keeps being it’s just being compounded now it’s like Hey, the armors worthwhile and I’m inside going well, I put the armor because I think I’m a piece of crap. And so I guess that’s true. I better keep this armor up. So it’s all the all the work none of the benefit.
Risk part. Yes an interesting thing she says that as you as you discover this, this idea of false often true self, you may discover like she was in ministry and she said you may discover that you’re working for church and that they hired you for your false self. They hired you because you will work long hours you will, you know, you’ll put in you know, you’ll never stop working because you’re so addicted to accomplishing things and do achieving things and they may think that’s great. And so yeah, what you’re saying is so true. We have to we have to adjust and it can be really painful to give it up.
I think that’s so here’s another scenario that connects with a lot of people who wrestle with with sexual sins, or maybe even just secret sins in general. Like Those those needs and the longings Don’t go away. And so I imagine, you know, this the suit of armor that goes into work every day, you know, carrying the weight of it, feeling none of the reward of it, or little other word of it coming home, or having a secret moment where it’s like, you know, the armor comes off. And now I can just be the shameful person that I am by eating all this food or by indulging in porn or by slipping off to have sex with someone I don’t know. Or by binge watching whatever it mean, like, whatever the the secret sin is, is that can be the one place or person feels like I’m now here’s where I can at least let down to be my true self and that that’s a trap. Because that’s that’s not the true self either. So anyway. Yeah. So where do we go kit?
Well, you know, I think I think I want to highlight for a minute what what Paul says in Ephesians one because I think this idea of understanding the true self. We have to understand what the true self business in order to find out, you know what false things we believed that have that have brought us to that place. And so in Ephesians one, Paul says, you know, we’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing we’ve been chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, Grace lavished and unconditionally loved and accepted, were pure and blameless and forgiven. That is a beautiful picture of who we are. But along the way, how do we find out the false things that we believed that have taken us from believing that that have now defined our life differently?
So, you know, we need to really like in order to discover that true self, we got to look at the false beliefs that we’ve that we’ve allowed to form our identity. How do we find out these false things that we believe have been defining our identity? Yeah. So how what would you say how How do we begin that? I mean, I imagine that people listening right now who go, Okay, I’m recognizing the exhaustion I recognize I don’t feel like I can be my myself I recognize maybe some some sins in my life that, you know, that I’ve been running to. Where Where can a person like that go? If they’re wanting to explore, like, what’s this false self true self dynamic and me,
that’s why I think this Ephesians one is so helpful. Because if we look at it, we can we can see that we may very well believe that we are rejected, instead of accepted that we are in bondage instead of being redeemed, that we’re under law instead of covered by grace, and we’re orphaned instead of adopted. And so those are really big buckets that I think a lot of us fall into. So do any of those resonate with you that you think would be good to unpack?
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think I think One that’s been a big one for me for that I’ve I’m grateful to have made a lot of progress in but I can still see it I can still feel it creeping in some is the underlying sort of covered by grace, like the idea that God’s that that God is not a list of things that if I don’t do these by the end of the day, I am you know, I got a I got to work extra hard the following day or something as opposed to just it is His grace, my failure, my sin increases his grace because of because of my position with Him and who who he is to me, as opposed to what I can produce on my own.
I think that’s a big one. It’s a big one. For me. I think it’s a big one for a lot of people I see that we just it really is a strong message that we can receive that we have to do more in order to be right with God. And so we just, we just keep working and you trying to accomplish and earn, you know, what we think we need. And it’s a trap. And it can often lead to an interesting aspect of the false self that can can be really subtle. But, you know, really concerning and that’s this religious small self.
Yeah, yeah. So here’s, here’s the first scripture place. I think this comes up. I think, and I don’t know for sure. I’m not a biblical scholar yet. But when Adam and Eve, were told, you can eat from any tree in the garden that you want, but not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is in the center of the garden. And then after they ate from the knowledge of the truth, good new knowledge to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it was sent in the garden. After they did that. They covered themselves with fig leaves, and then they then they hid behind the trees of the garden. And I think that was, I think that’s one expression of when I think that I haven’t done well and I’ve got to hide from God, I better run to where I think I’m supposed to be and do what I think he wants me to be doing. Yeah, as opposed to facing him, which is what his invitation is in Genesis three, when he comes and says, Where are you? It’s, I think it’s an invitation to stop hiding, covering yourself like, let’s do business. But, but was it Where do you go with that? What?
Well, you know, I think it’s kind of, you know, interesting because we can adapt this high, low pretending kind of way of living and we might even be rigorous in our religion or even devoted to, you know, this textbook discipleship, but we may actually never have gotten to a place of vulnerability or honesty with God to be able to have a genuine loving union with him. Now, we’re going I definitely, before I had cancer, cancer was one of those Wake Up Calls for me because before then I really thought, Okay, I got this going on. I go to church, I did a Bible study. I you know, by by the things that I think, you know, I’ve been Chapter, but I my heart hadn’t surrendered. I didn’t even know what that meant. And so we can definitely go through the motions in a superficial way. But our heart’s not really in it.
You know, what I love about you just said the thing because I like that word surrender. I think for me, I still have this almost kind of knee jerk reaction to the word surrender. The word surrender means you’ll do whatever I say. And I say it with that kind of like, you know, intensity because like, that’s, I think, how something in my flesh responds to it. But the way you describe it, there is really a surrendering even to the, to the love and the presence of God. So like, for example, when ad when God came calling Adam and Eve, Adam, where are you? That when they had to step out of hiding as a surrendering when they had to tell the truth It was a surrendering, it was a laying down. I thought I could do this I thought I could hide I thought we might want to get get away with this. We couldn’t. Now you need to step out and I’m at your mercy and, and His mercy was absolutely merciful. I mean, aliens but but so what what’s the antidote? Where would you go with kind of an antidote to the religious false self that that this doing more and trying harder for God or what else would you say about it?
I think a quote by Robert Mulholland is one of the most profound quotes about this that I’ve heard. He said that, you know, we can be so busy being in the world for God, that we fail to be in God for the world. Let me say that again. We can be so busy being in the world for God, that we fail to be in God for the world. So you know, we can live our lives. And you know, not be connected to God and not even know it and so that’s why some of these sent that’s why sometimes pain brings us to that place and helps us discover you know who we really are and begin to unravel that falls off because sometimes we don’t even know that we’re living out of that.
Yeah, I mean I even here in the words mean that that Mulholland quote, feel so Invitational, scandalous, scandalous the wonderfully invitingly Invitational so yeah, yeah. So say more about that kid.
Well, I think that those of us that want an intentional spiritual journey, you know that we want to be aware of the debilitating nature of that that trap you know, we want to we want to have some tear vulnerable hearts before God And you really try to explore what does it really mean to be abandoned to him, to give him our fluids to not just be superficially living a checklist or rules. And so, when these painful parts of life come, some of us get very scared of the pain, we go, Oh, no, listen, I’m just going to kind of pretend that’s not there. I’m going to go back to just living life. So my encouragement is, let’s have courage, to feel the pain and to allow God to unravel us. Sometimes that’ll mean, you know, finding a mentor or spiritual coach or therapist, you know, a good spiritual friend. But let’s, let’s encourage each other not to run away from it.
Yeah, so, so so where I feel like we’ve gone We started by talking about what what is the true self, that’s the self that God creates. Christ came to redeem and save. The false self is our own either self protective image that we put out to the world so we can feel like we we are something when deep inside we don’t believe that we are or it’s or can also be a version of ourselves that we’ve taken on messages that we’ve received we walk around kind of like the picture of like Charlie Brown’s friend pig pen just kind of stinky and we don’t know our value and so we kind of live in that place. So, those two expressions of false self talked about, about one of the one of the versions of this is the religious false self which is pious and hard working and prayerful and studying scripture but can’t just be in God’s presence has a hard time just resting and the Father’s love and and doesn’t know how to be is in the world for God but doesn’t have to be in God for the world maybe even doesn’t know that that’s an option. And and the pain is meant to to allow alert us like hey, the way that you’re doing this isn’t isn’t working or isn’t enough and, and by this kind of pain specifically we mean like the the fallout of trying to live in the false self there is pain in the world because the world’s broken and fallen but but there are kinds of pain that that come about because we’re trying to we’re trying to live outside of who God has made us to be and outside of relationship with Him as opposed to in relationship with him. Yeah. So if we’re if we’re trying to move forward in this life of just being surrendered and abandoned to God who is love and we have to get in touch with with the false way they’ve been living how let’s let’s land this plane. How do we do that? What Yeah.
Well, there are, you know, lots of ways and sometimes the ways will happen to you and you’ll suddenly find yourself in some pain And so again, like I said, just like don’t run away from it. Reach out, ask for help. Another, you know, just To allow yourself to read the songs in a way that that you maybe never have before that they are beautiful prayers about crying out to God, about coming clean. Someone 39 is so powerful. It really invites God to search our hearts and show us ways that we might be believing things that aren’t true. Yeah, you know, there’s spiritual disciplines that get you don’t want to just be like Check, check, spiritual disciplines when they’re really practice the way God intended, they will draw near to God, you know, and so, talk to a mentor, spiritual friend, a spiritual coach, therapist, you know, what are some ways that I can actually begin to enter into some practices, some prayer that can that can help me and the big thing is be compassionate to yourself when you realize that you’re, there’s some of this false stuff going on. false self stuff going on. Like don’t beat yourself up. We all do it. We’ve all been there. We are There, we still fight with it, you know, and so just have compassion on yourself and ask for help ask God and ask others.
When these comes to mind for me, as we’re concluding this conversation is the reality that, you know, Christianity, I believe more than any other major faith in the world is a is a is a perspective that believes that we that we are of incredible worth because we’re made in God’s image we have fallen from that more than we know and and that we need God and and part of what I hear throughout all of this is that the the idea of the false self is just one way of framing up the whole this idea that we we can just we can make it on our own it’s it’s, I don’t need God to make it and one and even that religious version of it. As as Christian as it might look sometimes it’s it’s really just another attempt at saying like, Hey, I got it I got the book. I know how to meditate on it. Like I’m good. Yeah as opposed to being like actually I am a person in need you know I’ve been in the word I’ve been to church I know all these things and I still am in need and it’s that’s not failure. That’s the human condition right? Absolutely absolutely way to the to the true self
and if you get there don’t go Oh, no, no, this is terrible. say Oh, wow. Okay. You know and if we here region can be of help if you’re if you’re in that place, and you’re not sure where to turn you know, we would love to talk with you about it. We would love to
Yeah, thanks kid. I I’m challenged by this conversation I know. I know I’ve studied and taught on the false self for false self and true self for for many years and yet, challenges we’re having conversation especially around the topic of pain and, and what it reveals like just at my own No need to go further here and to continue to turn to Jesus instead of running, running from the places that feel shame to turn to him and say, Lord, I’m seeing this about me. I need I need your story about who I am and I need your help. Yeah,
I feel like that to Josh is there’s always more, you know, for me to, for all of us to understand about this.
Yeah. Well, why don’t you Why don’t you close with some word of prayer and pray for those those listening and thanks for leading us in this conversation today?
Oh, Lord, I do. Thank you. For anyone who’s listening, whose heart might be touched right now I pray for your protection and your encouragement. Alert if they’re feeling pain, I pray that they wouldn’t run away from it wouldn’t deny it but that they would seek help, they would seek you they would seek others and they would actually be fortified with the idea of Ah, there are some ways that I can seek after God for this sense of who I am, the longer having to run and race and dance as fast as I can, that there’s actually some rest somewhere for me. So I just pray for anyone who’s feeling that desire and that need that they would trust you. And they would ask you, where do they go from here? And that they would be willing to reach out in some way to you or to others in their place of need. So we thank you God for your goodness. You’re always there for us. Your promise is so powerful. He never leave us ever. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
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