How much have you learned from the experiences of your life? How well do you know yourself? These are questions that we need to ask from time to time. A friend of mine recently shared some advice which has been very helpful in trying to answer these questions. He said, when a person reaches their 40’s they come to realize that they have been through enough of life’s experiences to be able to reflect back on them and perhaps learn something. But when a person reaches their 50’s and 60’s they have to begin to make a decision. That decision is whether a person will continue to live with the false self, or be moved by God’s grace to the true self.
Let me explain.
What do I mean by the false self? The false self is that part of ourselves that looks for honors, career advancement, or something that others will regard as successful. To live with the false self is to put on a (mask). To be someone you are not. To act a certain way because you are concerned with what others think of you—especially those who can give you something—-like people of power and wealth. The false self usually lives in the world of unreality and illusion and makes everything about self.
The true self lives for God, tries to please God, not self or others. To move toward the true self is to stand for the values that mean something—-the values of the Gospel that last.
For most people, there lies within ourselves aspects of both the false self and the true self. What we strive to do, through God’s grace and learning from life’s experiences, is to move away from the false self and toward the true self. But there is always that tension within. We swing back and forth.
Jesus says very plainly, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” When we try our best to do what Christ asks we move toward the true self. And even though we have to face difficulties in life, God’s grace can keep us moving in the right direction.
One thing to be sure of: Christ knows our hearts. So if we persist in following the false self we can lose who we were meant to be. But if we learn from our life experiences, we will become better persons; more the true self. We will find ourselves more and more doing things for the right reason, and we will be at peace and not look back with regret.
God’s hand in our life will make more sense to us (moving forward) the more we find ourselves on the journey toward the true self.