Spiritual Self-Awareness

I’ve been working on this entry for a while because I had trouble putting what I was thinking into words. I’m going to post a follow-up entry too, about the responsibilities that come with being self-aware. If there is something I could write a book on, it would be this. I think we should all strive for self-awareness, but not just the secular idea of what it means for someone to know who they are. There is also a Biblical self-awareness that is essential to a life lived for Christ.

Thank you for reading!


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Photo by Maci Elise // Source: Instagram

“Self-awareness” has become a common term in our culture over the past few years. It is usually associated with methods of self-help, saying that the better we know ourselves, the more we can improve and be content with who we are. Lately, I’ve been learning of another kind of self-awareness that is Christ-led instead of self-led.

The concept of self-awareness that we’re used to depends largely on self-reflection, leaving the majority of work up to the person trying to understand themselves better. However, it’s easy to become blindsided when you’re your own guide. We are all unaware of some key aspect of ourselves, whether that be how we appear to others or how we think about things subconsciously. We aren’t able to grow alone. This realization that we can’t be our own leader is humbling.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Jeremiah 17:9

Attempting to figure out any of our hidden or misplaced motivations is often a hopeless task. Thankfully, scripture tells us that it’s impossible to know our own heart fully, which means it must not be essential for growth to be self-aware.

When I was younger, I realized that the older I got, the more aware of myself I was. I started thinking that eventually I would gain enough perspective on myself so I could turn into someone who I wouldn’t need to change. I began to idolize and rely on my self-awareness along with the sense of control I felt from it.

Despite how well I knew myself, I didn’t grow very much, and in looking back I can see why. My first mistake was thinking I could understand myself in a way only God does, and my second mistake was thinking I could change myself in a way only God can. Instead of trusting Him to make me new in Christ, I trusted myself to become someone who fit my own standards. By focusing on who I was, I neglected who He is and what He wanted for me. I learned it wasn’t through knowing myself that I could be free and experience change  it was through knowing God.

I still believe it’s important to be aware of who you are as well as how you are seen by others, but this process of self-reflection requires discernment. It is crucial that we rely on something that isn’t biased or constrained to a limited perspective. This is the beginning of growth: to come to terms with the fact that we can’t just depend on ourselves. Even if it feels like it, we aren’t always able to see the things we need to.

“Any teaching which urges a man to trust in himself is merely a deception.”

-John Calvin

In order for us to know ourselves, we have to know more than ourselves. The Bible shows us Jesus, offering a clear perspective on who we are in light of the Gospel. Instead of focusing so heavily on how we see ourselves, or how others view us, we need to shift our focus to Him and how He thinks of us.

This view of looking at yourself through the lens of scripture is humbling. It removes any proudness, because it lives on the fact that He chose to die for us when we were unable to pay the debt we owed. With perspective, we see how we were sinners in need of saving. We didn’t know how in need we were before He showed us by dying on the cross. Despite knowing us perfectly, He redeemed us.

Through this new relationship we have with God, we can learn more about who He is, and in turn, who we are. When we come to terms with how little control we have over our lives, we become grounded in how reliant we are on Him. The sense of control we’ve had isn’t as relevant as it once seemed, and we can finally let go.

You don’t know yourself unless you know yourself in relationship to God.”

-Tim Keller

While spiritual self-awareness is Christ-centered and Christ-led, the world’s idea of self-awareness is self-centered and self-led. This is dangerous. Without proper guidance, we will lead ourselves astray. The broken can’t look only to the broken to be fixed.

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

Jeremiah 17:5

To understand the things below, we must first look to that which is above. To know the lower, we must seek the higher. We cannot be genuinely aware of who we are unless we know who He is.

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4 Comments

  1. I love this: “By focusing on who I was, I neglected who He is and what He wanted for me. I learned it wasn’t through knowing myself that I could be free and experience change — it was through knowing God.”

    That C.S. Lewis quote from Mere Christianity comes to mind… “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.” 🙂

    Like

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