I remember getting standing ovations in church as a young child on Easter Sundays because I would recite these speeches that were probably 3-4 times longer than the ones the other kids did. I remember winning writing contests year after year in my school and progressing very fast when I started taking piano lessons as a nine year old. A little boy with a colorful, vivid imagination who saw the world through his own set of unique, candy-coated glasses. But it wasn’t long before this artistic, creative side of me began to slowly fade into a hidden place…
I wanted to be like the other boys around me because early childhood experiences told me that I was too “different.” The enemy of my soul began to taunt me from an early age through the words and actions of others against me. I began to believe the LIE that I was a “sissy” and just for some reason didn’t quite have that “it” quality that the other little boys seemed to possess. I played video games, played with Legos and rode by BMX bike, but something was still “wrong.” Something was “off,” or so I made to believe. The pain of not being accepted by my peers was too much to bear so I had to do something about it! And so this began the formulation of my false self. This is really no different than what probably most other people experience, we just have different scripts. Our false selves are a defense mechanism to the lies we believe and the sins that are committed against us.
If I could go back in time, I would never have exchanged piano lessons for soccer, basketball and track and field. I would have at least stuck with the piano and even singing, but I had to play sports because that was what all of the normal boys did. I wasn’t blessed with the natural strength and physique of the other boys, but I could run fast! This became my way of being their “equal.” They couldn’t always make fun of me anymore because I was outshining them. I would get a rush whenever I would supposedly prove my “boyhood.” I would get the same rush when I would receive praise from my family for my doing well with academics, and while getting an education is obviously important, in my case it was more about ego and performance. The deep wounding that I had received in my childhood told me that achievement was synonymous with acceptance. Everything in life then became a competition to me and the enemy of my soul now had free reign to wreak havoc in my psyche.
James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. (NKJV)
Fast forward into my teen years, the false self continued to play out in various forms. I had a very FRAGILE ego and was overly-driven. If I didn’t accomplish something or if someone out performed me in some way, my heart perceived this as rejection. I know many of you probably have some idea of what this is like. And so my artistic side would show up in different ways once in a great blue moon, but it still remained suppressed because of my need for acceptance and attention. My idolatry of sports had already become a major stronghold (with the help of ESPN and media hype), but I’m grateful that I grew up in a home with music ministers as parents. I still loved music, but even that became corrupted. My peers were listening to stuff like gangster rap that was littered with violence, sex and drugs, and so I had to follow suit so I could be more socially acceptable. At this time I was supposedly becoming “blacker” because I had been told so many times since I was a little boy that I acted “white.” So I quickly became influenced through BET (Black Entertainment TV), movies and what was considered to be “black culture.” This was just more of the false self being magnified. Fortunately, my mother kind of made me sing in the youth choir at church, so I didn’t completely lose my musical ability. Are you now beginning to see the COST of not embracing the true self?
Meanwhile, my true self was locked away in a prison of self-hatred. My false self ruled with an iron clad and only got worse during high school as I became a state finalist in track and field, three out of four years. Pride and ego took center stage, but soon life would start to play out against my hopes and dreams. The very things that fueled the false self seemed to have been taken almost overnight. I guess God had had enough… But I began to display many other destructive qualities as I entered college. My sense of self worth plummeted to all time lows, and I became the perfect punching bag for the enemy of my soul. The slightest word said in the wrong way could throw me into an emotional tailspin. College life was MISERABLE, for the most part. My false self eventually steered my life down a dark path and it would take years to begin repairing the damage. It’s sad how the enemy can derail us with his lies. Some never leave the path of destruction that was set up by the false self, and I thought I never would.
As I started my true journey with the Lord some years ago, the true self began to slowly emerge. His Word began to bathe me, methodically washing away the lies my heart had internalized over the years. Through the love of others, God began His surgery on me. He started to remove the cancer of self hatred and other vices that made me believe that even He hated me for all of those years. My ears began to hear His voice for the very first time as He whispered. His love began to peel away the layers to reveal the man that He imagined before time even existed. My artistic side began to bloom brightly like a field of sunflowers. My true self can begin to kill ego and reject performance, and can learn to forgive those who inflicted the deep wounds I suffered in my childhood. My true self can learn to not be so easily offended. I can choose to walk in the light, just like the brightness that hits after exiting a railroad tunnel.
I don’t like the phrase “work in progress” because I believe it gets misused. However, I will say that my true self is still emerging as I learn to get out of my own way. I’m embracing my God-given uniqueness. My true self has a marvelous destiny that awaits him. My true self is no longer afraid to take risks. Courage is being poured over my spirit man as I am beginning to recognize what it means to truly live. My true self is learning to bow down to the reality that the Heavenly Father knows me infinitely more than I know myself. I have imperfections and have to bear my cross just like the savior did. I have to be willing to embrace the narrow path the lord has laid out for me in order to find the life that I was always mean to live while on this earth. Each day that we awake, we must make the decision to keep the false self locked away until he is finally no more… My true self shall prevail. And so can yours, if you will allow it.
Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.(NKJV)
Nathan Allen Copyright© 2013