By the time we are teenagers we have grown shells like turtles– a hard, outer shell which surrounds our truer selves, protecting what is true and real within us. The shell consists of our cultural conditioning and our own self-image as well as our ego and everything human about us. We may think that all this protection is for the ego, but the softer body which the shell protects is actually our created self, our soul or the true self, and God’s Indwelling Spirit.
We were made in God’s image, [Genesis 1:26-28]and the image of God we were created with remains in us, a potential ready to be realized whenever we get very interested in a deep relationship with God. Dismantling the hard shell that surrounds our most precious selves is the work of God, the healing and transformative work that gets done in a deep relationship with Him.
The more we pay attention to God in our lives, the deeper we allow him into our deepest self, the more His Spirit comes forward in our lives as a real influence, a real source of how we are to live our lives, how we are to fulfill our purpose, how we are to be and to act. As God heals our pain and suffering, our soul comes to claim more and more of who we are and the ego begins to come under the aegis of the soul. As the Spirit moves out of that protected space in us, we enter into a partnership with God in our lives.
I’ll repeat an image I have used before of this relationship: to me, God is the pilot of the airplane that is my life. I am the co-pilot. There’s a lot of back and forth between us, but I defer to God in making decisions because He has a much clearer picture of who I am and where He wants to take me than I do.
As we deepen our relationship with God, we release with God’s help great swaths of our cultural and familial conditioning(parts of the shell) and our oh, so human qualities in favor of aligning ourselves with God’s will. This is how we begin to live in the mind of Christ, without the rigidity and cloudy lenses of our own self-protectiveness.
We begin to think like Christ and live like Christ would have us live. We no longer exercise the free will we were given and just align our own will with Christ’s, never doing anything that would be against who He is or what He would expect of us. We give up our fears and anger and greed and envy and begin to live in love, as defined by the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:23-4]: peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
As we deepen in God, the hard shell begins to dissolve, no longer needed to protect our true selves, because we are now living in the arms of God and He is all the protection that we will ever need. We need God’s help to dismantle the shell, because we are way too close to ourselves to be able to see what needs to happen and how and when. And there we stand finally without any need for protection. We no longer need our own hard shell of protection; we live in the arms and protection of God. Free of all unnatural constraints. Free to be who we were created to be.
We just are who we are doing God’s work in this world as we were designed to do at our creation. What happens to us and with us is just the most natural outcome of who we are as we live in the mind of Christ. Thanks be to God!
Questions to ponder over the week: Has my soul and the Indwelling Spirit of God begun to emerge from underneath the hard, outer shell? Are there cracks in the shell that are the marks of healing and transforming the conditioned, egoic self? Can I feel the difference, the lightness from the release of trapped energy? Can I feel the beginning of the freedom from hiding all my pain and suffering, because God is doing the healing work inside me?
Blessings for the week: May we be the people of God whose hard outer shell is being healed from the inside out by God. May we be experiencing the release of the tension of all that self-protection. May we really experience the freedom that comes from being obedient to God(as paradoxical as that sounds!).