Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Impostor

I read a great book by Brennan Manning called "Abba's Child." The second chapter titled The Impostor is one of his most popular pieces of writing. It's probably so popular because it's refreshing to hear something we can all relate to laid out in such clear, easy to understand terms. There is a false self in each of us. This self is concerned with image and with getting certain needs met in order to feel okay about itself. It is a completely selfish self that betrays our true self (the self that is formed in and for love). What makes it hard is that the false self never fully goes away no matter now clearly we identify it or how soundly we claim our identity as God's beloved. The tug to be identified by our accomplishments, what people say about us, how well we can perform, etc is like a constant annoying hum in the background (at best) if not the rushing river moving our lives from person to place to project in search of identity.

I had a revelation today that Jesus understands that false self, in fact he must have had his own false self tugging at his true identity or the temptations he faced in the wilderness wouldn't have even been tempting. Provide for yourself, prove that you are special, be powerful and successful in the world's eyes...these are the things that appeal to a false identity that wants to matter to somebody, anybody, besides just God.

It's making me think. I could reread that Impostor chapter a dozen times because it's highly relevant to me in my faith journey right at this moment. I would recommend this book to anyone, just because of that one chapter, even though the rest of the book is pretty good, too.

Here is a prayer by Henri Nouwen that reflects this theme beautifully:

Why do I keep relating to you as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all other ones are grounded ? Why do I keep looking for popularity, respect from others, success, acclaim, and sensual pleasures ? Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make you the only one ? Why do i keep hesitating to surrender myself totally to you ?

Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let die the thousand big and small ways in which i am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires. Let me be reborn in you and see through you the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you. I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self and to a new life in and for you. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom. Lord, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a very good book and the Imposter chapter is one I could read over and over. We can't be reminded too often of our identity.