We seem to accept with little protest that some of the foods we ingest are not really what they say they are. They’re fake. Seafood salad isn’t really made from ocean creatures. Seitan, a vegetarian meat substitute isn’t really chicken, it just (sort of) tastes like chicken. And what about the last item in the ingredients of 90 % of the foods we eat called, “artificial flavors.” What is that?
I want to write tonight about something that has nothing to do with what I tasted today. It has to do with what I read this morning and “tasted” the rest of the day as I mulled it over. I am reading, The Deeper Journey, by M. Robert Mulholland Jr. It’s not a book for those with acrophobia—a fear of heights. Mulholland writes from the ether's, at times. But his subtitle, The Spirituality of Discovering Your True Self, defines one of my main passions in life and something I find critical to my spiritual journey.
Just like fake food, we all have a false self or selves. From a young age, we learn to navigate life, avoid pain, and get what we want by cultivating a false way of being in order to achieve our desired outcome. For instance, I learned to avoid being bullied and humiliated by my dad by withdrawing and not sharing myself or my true thoughts. I constructed a “good little girl” false self in order to escape trouble. That false self served me well for a time. BUT, it has also imprisoned me and made it profoundly difficult to become a passionate, expressive and confident woman—the woman God created me to be.
As a Christian, I think perhaps the greatest deterrent to becoming our true selves in Christ is our cultivation of a well-sculpted religious false self. Much of what we call transformation is really the development of the “good little Christian” false self who follows the rules and believes what it should. Instead of becoming authentic, whole and spirited people, we are more like imitation crab, chicken substitute or artificial flavors.
And isn’t that what those who aren’t Christ followers most often criticize us for? We are shallow--our spirituality comprised of a superficial layer of religious false self that has no depth of heart or genuineness. Yet, I am struck with Paul’s description of who God created us to be--our true selves in Christ. Paul says to, “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception [our false self]. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy [our true self].” (Ephesians 4:22, 23)
Just as I prefer real food over fake, I am on a journey of learning to prefer my true self over the false selves I have hidden behind most of my life. How about you? Would you be interested in joining me on this journey?