For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. - 1 Corinthians 13:12 This above all: to thine own self be true - Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3
It might seem impossible that a person could not know their own self, one would think that knowledge would be self-evident to them, but nothing could be further from the truth. I do not know a single person who has not totally lost their genuine self at some point or another. We all stray from our authentic core, and finding our way back isn’t as simple as we might think. Indeed, there are many who never find their way back at all! This a tragedy, because we will never grow into our full potential until we are living from that genuinely authentic place.
Over the past several posts we’ve highlighted the common false identities we find ourselves in: the wounded victim, the shameful addict, and the phony pretender. At different times we might consider any of these roles to be our real self, but none of them can be. Each of these layers only came into existence partway through our lives. They are therefore artificial and external, addendums on top of something else.
And what is that something else? What was the true self that everything else was layered on top of us? What identity we have always had inside of ourselves, right from the beginning of life?
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? - John 10:34 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee - Jeremiah 1:5
The words of scripture provide bold declarations that each and every one of us is a special creation of God, a divine child of the most powerful being in the universe, and an heir to heaven through Christ. The words of scripture tell us that none of us are a bit player or window dressing in the story of the world, but a central character unlike any other. Each of us comes with unique talents and callings, meaning we have both a God-given ability and a God-given purpose.
In short, each one of us is sacred, each one of us is divine, and each one of us is an imprint of God. Many of us have been told this at one point or another, but relatively few of us have been able to actually believe it. Or we might say that we believe it, but when asked to describe who our divine self is we are unable to provide any specific or unique details.
Forgetting who the divine self is the first step to all the trouble that we experience in life. Coming to remember who we are is the first step to restoring all that was lost.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For the body is not one member, but many. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. - 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 17, 18 Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 18:3
I can tell you that your true identity is defined by wonderful and divine traits…but I cannot tell you exactly what those traits are. We are not all the same image of divinity, but each a part of the whole. It is not for another mortal to define what your identity is. It is a personal and individual pilgrimage that all of us must take for ourselves, to know who we truly are.
I can, at least, give you a starting point to begin your journey from. Remember that all of our false identities were layers heaped upon our original state. Remember that our divine self is not one that we had to earn or fashion, it was present in us from the very beginning. And so, the best place to start looking for the divine self is in our young childhood. What were you like before your innocence had been broken, when happiness came so naturally, and you didn’t ever wonder if you were enough? How did you play and perform before you cared who was watching you? What were the things you could do that brought you joy effortlessly, that made you feel strong and adept? Some may be able to recall these years better than others. Some may need to enlist the help of parents and loved ones who might remember more clearly.
Of course, remembering these things is one thing, but then there is the matter of actually going back to that place. Some may feel that their childlike self has been irreversibly broken, that the path back home is blocked by an impassable chasm.
Whether you have forgotten your child self, or do not know how to find your back to it, do not worry. It can all be brought back to you right where you are at this moment. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As you cultivate your relationship with Christ and search with earnest, old things will be made new. The self that was forgotten or lost will be brought back effortlessly; a gift restored.
I’ve shared my façade, my shame, and my wounds, it only seems fair that now I get to share the most divine parts of my soul as well. This isn’t boasting, either, because these are the qualities I did absolutely nothing to obtain. They were given to me as a gift from God. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31).
From my youngest years I have been naturally cheerful and gregarious. I am most typically happy, and I want to see everyone around me be happy as well. I tend to sense how engaged everyone is with an activity, and when someone is frustrated or losing interest, I know what to change to include them.
I am curious and creative, endlessly fascinated by this world and stimulated by it into imagining new things. I love to write and create stories, to convert life lessons into parables and allegories. And even when it does not lead to creativity, I still find great pleasure just in learning and understanding new things.
Finally, I am also conscientious, having an unbreakable sense of what is right. When it comes to deciding what I should do, I need no more justification or rationalization than simply to feel what is right in my heart and obey it. Along with this, I have recently discovered that I always comes back to my conscience. Sometimes, admittedly, I do become complacent and aloof, trying to glide through life without holding myself to a greater purpose. But these spells are always short-lived. I am constantly pulled back towards conscience, even without any external pressure to do so.
And now, at long last, we have reached the true core of who we are. The part of us that has always been ingrained in us since before our birth. The part that is inseparable from who we are, even when it is temporarily forgotten. The part that it is actually correct for us to identify ourselves by.
We are so often taught that we have to make ourselves be enough, that we have to spend our whole lives striving to becoming who we are supposed to be. What a welcome shock to realize that in reality we don’t need to strive at all. The divine was in us all along, before we had done a single thing to build or earn it. So now, instead of grasping at convoluted philosophies, we can let go of everything but the truth. Instead of looking high and low for God, we can discover Him within us. Instead of working so hard to become His we can realize that we always were.
Now, at last, we are home.
One thought on “Layers of Man- The Divine”