I have been reading a book on contemplative prayer by Martin Laird. He has been very helpful for me on this stage of my spiritual journey. In the preface he observes, “Jagged edges abound in even the best-lived lives, and we each have chapters of our lives that are better left unpublished. The arms of the past reach into the present. ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past'” (Faulkner). Although we may not wish to revisit these jagged edges, these unpublished chapters, they serve the purpose of letting in light and love. We are made real by love.
God wants us to be real, not our carefully fashioned false self. God can not have a relationship with an illusion we have created. He desires to relate to our real self; the good, the bad and the ugly. We would rather present a self we have worked hard to construct with our spiritual improvement projects. This is a false religious self. Part of the motivation for doing so, is to protect ourselves from really knowing who we are, thus preventing us from experiencing God’s love.
We are made real, our true self, by love. I can testify that when I came to know that God loved me unconditionally in my shame and vulnerability, I was able to open deeper parts of my soul, what John of the Cross called “the caverns of the heart” to God without fear of rejection or condemnation. The words of I John 4:18 took on new meaning for me. “There is no fear in love. But prefect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Surrendering to love has allowed me to loosen my grip on my well constructed false religious self. This can be painful, since it exposes more of my jagged edges and some of the unpublished chapters of my life. As love exposes more jagged edges in my character, I can acknowledge my shortcoming and find healing for life long patterns of sin. There will be more unpublished chapter to discover, exposing what has been hidden for years. How wonderful when I allow God to rewrite the script of my story. I will continue to learn how my “life is now hidden with Christ is God” (Col. 3:4).
Dealing with my jagged edges and unpublished chapter will bring forth more of my true self in Christ. In the process I find more freedom to just be me, and to live a more authentic life before God and others. This has been difficult for me, since I am the kind of guy who always has a thermostat extended into my surroundings. I have been plagued by what people think of me. But as Love makes me real, from the inside out, I find freedom to just be me.
Expect your jagged edges and unpublished chapters to be exposed as you grow in intimacy with the Lord. Remember He can have a relationship only with the real you. The real you is brought forth the more you know you are loved by God in all of shame and vulnerability.