Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

Your Real Self-Image

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jan• 06•14

Be true to yourself. Follow your dreams. Search deep inside for the real you. This is confusing stuff! Sure, these sentiments sound nice, but they are so subjective that you never know when you have arrived at your actual self. We all come to terms with this question of who we are many times throughout our lives. There are various methods people use to define their identities. Some use a job title or education status; others use their popularity or physical attractiveness. Sadly, some identify themselves by their mistakes in life and never seem to move past them. Then there are wealth, health race, family, neighborhoods, fame, and talents that define us…

C.S. Lewis challenges us to stop looking. In fact, he wants us to try to forget about ourselves altogether. We are looking for the wrong person, he says. Have you ever noticed when someone is trying too hard to make a good impression on you? Sure you have, and if they realized it too they probably ended up asking, “Can we start over?” Lewis says that the same principle applies here. He also compares it to the artist’s quest for originality. The truly unique are those who are just pursuing truth.

The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life, and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end…and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will truly be yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in (1).

This wonderful wisdom from C.S. Lewis is way different from the self-assertiveness our culture seems to promote. All too often, we are encouraged to find ourselves by chasing some dream or ambition. We can do a killer job building up for ourselves an image that we would like to portray to the world around us. But all this is a veneer covering over what is really there. I think that we all struggle in this area.

 

This is an excerpt from my book, Housewife Theologian. It comes from chapter four, Hear Me Roar, p. 73-75.

(1) C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; repr., New York: HarperCollins, 1980), 226-27.

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5 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    Yet another part of your book that i liked a lot, Aimee.

    Do you remember reading about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where self-actualization is at the top? Lewis’s take on life is the corrective to that empty way of thinking.

  2. I greatly enjoyed chapter four and found myself wrestling over how I truly identify myself and just how much of that is based on Christ-centeredness or rooted in self-glory. Even being in Christ, it can become a competition in our own hearts and minds to be portrayed to the rest of the believing and unbelieving world alike as this, all while we forget that we aren’t really losing ourselves but doing the opposite, trying to gain more appeal. And the this we are trying to be isn’t quite the death of ambitions as Lewis describes.

    Thanks for sharing! This is really a matter of the heart that we have to deal with. I immediately consider the words of John Owen concerning sin, “Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Self-glory. A lifelong sin to be killing!

  3. Alice Wolfe says:

    We are embedded in God when even the impulse to pray comes from Him. Then even the blows of misfortune and the ensuing adjustments to our self-image become His work, not ours. Through Christ we are saved !

  4. I listened to a little of the Oprah drivel on TV recently. This “find yourself” is so new age with biblical WORDS used, but without Bible TRUTHS.

    I also enjoyed your book and as you know blogged about all the chapters, one post at a time. Thanks, Aimee, for raising my expectations on theology and discernment.

    Hugs,
    Carol

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