Sunday, May 11, 2014

From Self-Consciousness to Freedom

My shadow
Ever since I was a child I have struggled, at times, with an over-self-consciousness. I remember, as a high school student, walking into our city's mall to shop and thinking that people were looking at me and evaluating me. For me this was not a positive experience, nor was it some ego-thing. I did not want people to stare at me, and felt that they were. 

For the most part I have not wanted to be the center of attention. If you knew my Finnish parents and ancestors you would see where my genes come from and why this is so. We men would rather be out in the fields baling hay, alone. Please point the spotlight on someone else, not us. (I'm thankful as a child that I didn't know that one day I would be regularly speaking in front of people!)

When I was a kid in cub scouts we put on a little skit before our parents and families. We made a cardboard TV, and did a "TV show" on a makeshift stage. My part in the show was to tell a few jokes. I remember feeling nervous about doing this. When the time came to put my face in the cardboard TV-screen opening and tell the jokes, I clutched and blew it. Embarrassment flooded into my face as our families laughed, not at my jokes, but at me. I am a failure!

Now, many years later, I still have self-conscious moments, but they are far less than when I was a kid. Freedom from the sense that others are evaluating me has been a gradual thing. A key moment in my transformation from self-obsessiveness to freedom from self came over twenty years ago. I was part of a conference, and one of the speakers was talking about his struggle with this stuff. He said: "You'd worry a lot less about what other people think of you if you realized how little they do." That hit me as so true. I wrote it in my journal. I wrote it on a 3X5 card and carried it with me, pulling it out many times and reading it again and again. It resonates in me still today.

This is an example of how truth can set people free. Identify the truth and meditate on it. Paul writes, in Philippians 4:8 - "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Make a spiritual habit of meditating on true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy things. Here are three truths: 

1) God loves me; 

2) Some people love me; and 

3) most people are not evaluating me. 

I ask God to help these things descend from mental truths into heart-realities. Do this, for days, weeks, months, and even years, and I predict you will the Spirit working freedom into your soul.