There are two kinds of ‘taking yourself seriously’. I got caught in the trap of the first kind for many years.
I am a little bit little. At 5 foot 3 inches (on a good day) with dark curly hair and a complexion which is olive around the edges, I am the human equivalent of a Hobbit. I used to be a lot rounder than I am now too, which only added to the allusion…!
I also have a left-of-centre sense of humour and rather a bizarre taste in, well, everything. While all of this means although I can command a spot in the centre of a group (I can make people look at me, and make them laugh), in the past I have not often been given space which holds any weight or significance, despite the high levels of competence and skill I have.
This has been a contentious issue for me, and a source of angst as I worked hard, wondering why I never got anywhere despite the enormous amounts of effort I put in. It was quite counter-productive, because I was over-doing things to prove something which didn’t need to be proven.
This is the first kind of taking ourselves seriously. We take ourselves too seriously and fall into the trap of striving because we look at who we are, consider ourselves to be unworthy and try to make up for all our perceived faults by behaving our way out of them.
Then there is another kind of taking ourselves seriously.
This is when we look at who we are and understand the person Jesus made us to be. To look past the body, any limitations it may look like we have on the outside, any physical (including geographical) or financial circumstances we find ourselves in and see the power-filled son of God (girls too) we became when we accepted Jesus.
Does that make sense?
We cannot get to this second kind without being able to let go of approval from other people.
The only ‘person’ who needs to approve us, is Jesus.
It takes a journey into learning how to see ourselves through His eyes, and learning to live in rest and peace to make the switch from striving to power through peace.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV)
This doesn’t negate the need for fellowship and prayer with others, but it does mean we need to find all those little hooks where the fear of man is hiding or trying to pretend it is something else and dealing with it.
This is not me saying “fix-one-fix-all”. Rather an opportunity to ask Jesus, “Is there anything in my life; my behaviours, my thoughts about myself, which you know I don’t need because of the lie it’s built on?”
Sometimes, what He says in that moment is a surprise, because what He sees can be something we considered to be a permanent part of who we are.
We take this journey one step at a time. Sometimes it’s a big step, and a whole lot of old habits and ‘old man’ gets dealt with in one big hit, sometimes it a lot of small steps as we train to hold the new ground we have taken.
Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible- and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. Ephesians 5:8-10,13 (NIV)
I have never been in a position where Jesus has done a work which is too big for me to handle. Sometimes what look or feel like the smallest shifts in perception, end up making the biggest changes, because of the impact they have on how we see and relate to the rest of who we are.
The opportunity to pause today and ask whether we are seeing ourselves from Jesus’ perspective, or living from a driven place might be the small change which produces such a shift.