Self-Examination

Posted on 2007-07-31. Filed under: Thoughts |

Here’s another quote from Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster. This is from Chapter 3 entitled The Prayer of Examen:

In attempting to explain to us the value of self-knowledge, Teresa [of Avila] adds something that sounds to us quite strange. She writes, “Along this path of prayer, self knowledge and the thought of one’s sinds is the bread with which all palates must be fed no matter how delicate they may be; they cannot be sustained without this bread.” How startling to think that our own sinfulness can be the bread by which we are fed. How can this be?

Paul, you may remember, urges us to offer our bodies — our very selves — as a living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:1). This offering cannot be made in some abstract way with pious words or religious acts. No, it must be rooted in teh acceptance of the concrete details of who we are and teh way we live. We must come to accept and even honor our creatureliness. The offering of ourselves can only be the offering of our lived experience, because this alone is who we are. And who we are — not who we want to be — is the only offering we have to give. We give God therefore not just our strengths but also our weaknesses, not just our giftedness but also our brokenness. Our duplicity, our lust, our narcissism, our sloth — all are laid on the altar of sacrifice.

We must not deny or ignore the depth of our evil, for paradoxically, our sinfulness becomes our bread. When in honesty we accept the evil that is in us as part of the truth about ourselves and offer that truth up to God, we are in a mysterious way nourished. Even the truth about our shadow side sets us free (John 8:32).

There is, therefore, no need to repress, suppress, or sublimate any of God’s truth about ourselves. Full, total, unvarnished self-knowledge is the bread by which we are sustained. A yes to life means an honest recognition of our own evil, but it is also a yes to God, who in the midst of our evil sustains us and draws us into his righteousness.

Through faith, self-knowledge leads us to a self-acceptance and a self-love that draw their life from God’s acceptance and love.

I really like that quote. So many people are afraid of examining their dark side – their worldly side. So many people, especially Christians, like to pretend that it doesn’t exist. But I love God! He wants to spend time on that part of us and not in a condemning way but in a guiding way – a correcting way. I really like the truth that we can only offer God who we are and not who we should be or who we want to be. We have to start here. No more self-deception – just reality.

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