Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Who Am I, Anyways?

I recently finished one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I debated about posting a review on this book; nevertheless, I feel selfish not sharing a book that has so greatly impacted me.

In The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery, David G. Benner approaches a topic considered by some Christians to be off-limits. A book on the topic of self-discovery seems to contradict the biblical teachings of dying to self and being crucified with Christ. Rather than promote teachings on self-esteem or an unbalanced idea of self-image however, Benner seeks to help us see ourselves as God sees us. Whether we realize it or not, our image of ourselves is often formed by what we do, or how we feel others view us. Our image of ourselves is just that, an image. Whether we view ourselves through the validation we get from what we do, or through the eyes of others, this image is not the same as who we are. And yet I think so often we are afraid of facing who we really are.

I need to see myself as God sees me. And how does God see me? As an employee? A wife? As a former teacher or wannabe writer? Since reading this book, I’ve come to understand that those are just roles. God sees me, not through these roles, but as an utterly depraved, yet beloved creation of his. I always viewed my sins as separating me from God, but that which I do is merely a manifestation of the real problem – my sinful nature. I feel like even since becoming a Christian, I still try to prove myself to God. That can’t be done because no amount of righteous living can negate the fact that my very nature is flawed.

Understanding this has revolutionized my confidence in approaching God. I don’t have anything to hide. He already knows the ugly side of me. The thoughts I shouldn’t have. The negative attitudes. My shortcomings. The stuff I can manage to hide so well from others. His mercy and grace are so much sweeter. And being real with God is helping me learn to be real with others.

I came away from reading this book with the impression that it’s not “who I am,” but rather “who I am in Christ” that matters. I don’t think it’s possible to deny myself when the only self I know is that which I view through skewed mirrors. When I look into God’s word and see through his eyes who I really am, well, the whole denying self and dying to self begins to make sense.

I’m the kind of person who can approach a book much like I do a smorgasbord; I’m not offended by the foods I don’t like. I didn’t agree with every single idea in this book, but the author has a lot of good things to say and I found it a worthwhile read.


Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing this--sounds like a book I would really enjoy. I remember getting so discouraged in my graduate psych program about a few Christian resources there are on this topic. So needed! This one might be going on my 2007 reading list.

Jennifer said...

I have often thought about writing a little Bible study about this very thing. Yes, it is vitally important to share who we are in Christ.

Do you mind if I link this up on Saturday (when I do mine) at Semicolon's Saturday Book Reviews?

Laura said...

It sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing that.

Barb said...

It sounds like a very worthwhile read, Dianne. Like you, I don't have to agree with everything the author says in a book to enjoy it. Thanks for the review. My book wish list is just getting completely out of control!

Blessed Beyond Measure said...

Man am I glad I bought this book - actually got a copy for me and one for the store....it's on my 2007 reading list - sounds intriguing. Great review of it. Makes me want to grab it and dive in.

Sherry said...

Thanks to you or to Jennifer for adding the link to my Saturday Review. I post the Saturday Review each week, and you're welcome to add a link to a review any Saturday.

Carrie said...

Interesting take! I agree with your basic premise that it is very important to know and share who we are in Christ.

Thanks for sharing.

Dionna said...

Thanks for sharing about this, Dianne!