Live From Your True Self (Tuesday)
Today's devotional comes from "Falling Into Goodness," a book of Lenten reflections by Chuck DeGroat. You can purchase the entire book on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? Psalm 42:1-2
Can you fathom living according to your sacred and holy design by God? Can you imagine honoring yourself and others in the generosity afforded to dignified image-bearers? Can you imagine feeling alive with desire, beauty-infused desire animated by your loving Creator?
We may be the only creature in this world that resists living according to its design. The tree cannot help but lift its strong limbs draped in reds and yellows and oranges into the Autumn sky. The puppy cannot help but wag its furry tail at the arrival of its master. The rock cannot help but sit still as a paperweight in obedience to its Creator.
But we put on faces that are not our own. We strive to be as fit as our coworker, as funny as our sibling, as politically-informed as our best friend. We choose someone else’s design to copy, and in so doing we find ourselves disconnected from our own. I’ve seen this too much, both in myself and in many, many others. It is a form of impoverishment. Disconnected, we live hollow lives of imitation. What we feel, think, and do does not emerge from our truest self in God.
The Psalmist says that his soul desires God. In a world of competing desires, the Psalmist seeks to recalibrate. He holds his inner compass out and discovers his true direction, his heart’s deepest longing. This is pretty astounding. The Psalmist doesn’t say, “I can’t trust my longings…they’re always twisted and wrong.” In the midst of what seems to be profound pain in the Psalm, the writer sifts through the varying emotions and tunes in. This attunement doesn’t make the pain go away instantly, but it does provide a lifeline, an anchor.
In fact, it’s often our lack of anchoring that gets us in trouble in the first place. The tree is content being a tree and a rock sits as a rock would sit, but we try on a thousand different masks to see which fits best. Outside the Garden, we search for our fig-leaved persona-of-the-day which we hope will allow us to shine, to outsmart, to humor, to overcome.
Sometimes, I wish I could go back to my early childhood, a time when I wasn’t so worried about what others thought, a time when I lived from my own unique, quirky design unapologetically. I’m reminded of a poetic musing by Rilke:
May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children. Then in these swelling and ebbing currents, these deepening tides moving out, returning, I will sing you as no one ever has, streaming through widening channels into the open sea.[i]
Do you, like me, desire to be attuned to your own deepest desires, like the Psalmist? Do you desire to be like the tree that praises God, the river that flows freely, the puppy that delights at the arrival at its master? If so, speak this longing out loud. Allow the desire to well up within, especially in this Lenten season. Bring to God your longings with a sense of childlike abandon.
Ever-present Spirit, I long to live and love with a childlike freedom. And yet, I’m constrained by the masks I’ve chosen to wear to cover my shame and insecurity. Awaken my fickle heart to its deepest desire – a life lived fully in you. Amen
[i] Anita Barrows, Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God (New York, NY: Penguin, 2005), Kindle Locations 692-693.