Just Be True to Yourself
I know I'm supposed to have these deep pervasive thoughts that just explode onto the screen when I sit down to write - but that just isn't happening anymore. Instead I find phrases tumbling through my head and broken pieces of imperfect ideas trailing along behind them.
One of these phrases is "just be true to yourself." The idea being - so what if people don't like it, so what if you are standing alone, so what if you look like a big dork - don't make excuses for who you are.
On the surface, this rebel phrase sounds golden. Sure, I'm a uniquely created individual and I don't need to apologize for the way I'm wired. If people don't like me or get me, I'll just hang out with the folks that do - no tears from these eyes. God loves me and takes me as I am - so I'm going to be the best me I can be!
However, when I go a little deeper and I start to dissect the phrase "just be true to yourself" I find that myself is often in conflict with what is right, pure and good. I find that myself really wants what's best for... well... ME. If I really follow my heart, my gut, what have you, I'm going to follow it straight into a big bubble bath with a white russian on the rocks in one hand and my iPhone in the other. If I am really true to myself, I'm not going to call you to see how you are doing - I'm going to wait for you to call me, and I'm going to go through waves of insecurity, loneliness and indignation when you don't. I'm going to eat cheese at every meal, I going to only sing to the songs I really like at church, I'm going to say every inappropriate thing that comes to my mind (and you know there's no lack of that), and I'm going to always talk about myself. And I will travel a lot and cut out any part of my daily routine that didn't truly bring me joy. THAT is what being true to myself would really look like. Because guess what - I think about myself a lot. Heck, I spent eight years in higher education trying to figure out what to do with my life.
When I look to scripture, I never ever see the phrase "be true to yourself" or" celebrate your createdness" or "just be YOU!" Sure God creates us, sings songs over us, and leaves the ninety-nine to go out and search for us, but that doesn't mean our calling is to celebrate and sing songs about ourselves or to go out and find ourselves. We have already been found - IN HIM.
Jesus calls us to quite the opposite of being true to ourselves. He calls us to die to ourselves. No really. "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." - Luke 9:23-24
Paul writes, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20
Maybe it's harsh, but it is the most freeing way of life possible. If I am always trying to just be myself, myself who is still broken (though currently being sanctified in Christ), I'm aiming far too low. God calls us to be like him, to emulate Jesus, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man; he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!" -Philippians 2:6-8
Since God is already doing the work to make us like Him, why would I not go along with that? Why would I try to find myself outside of that?
And if you still need to feel like that rebel self you are, try this verse on for size:
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." - Matthew 5:11-12