spiritual selfies

selfie

If you ever want to know who you really are, then observe your thoughts, words, and actions during a time of distress or challenge.  Most of us would be surprised to realize that often times, we are not who we think we are.  But as unbearable as it can be, “spiritual selfies” as I like to call them, are imperative to our spiritual and personal growth, unlike the “traditional” selfies which promote narcissism and egoism.

Like most people, I am a bit weary of spiritual selfies, because of course I want to believe like everyone else, that “I am a good person” and I don’t need to look in the mirror to really see who I am. But lately, I feel like there is no way I can grow spiritually until I honestly examine my ideas and beliefs and begin to challenge some of them.  So I have been forcing myself to take out the spiritual mirror and examine my soul in it.

In the brief time I have been looking at my soul in the mirror, I came to realize that most of my life I have been an ungrateful wretch (you might want to check for this problem as well). The other bombshell I discovered about myself is that as much as I like to tell myself I trust God and know He wants the best for me, historically, I have almost always fallen into some form of despair, self-pity, and/or anger towards God for being put through a rough time.

A recent example of my unholy attitude towards God: I began feeling intense pain in my chest, which would come and go in waves throughout the day every day.  Heart problems got quickly ruled out, but I went in for tests to check whether I had acid reflux related ulcers in my esophagus and stomach.  While I waited for those test results for a few days, I watched in utter disgust, my natural thought process: What if I have cancer? I have some form of cancer! God, why are You doing this to me when I have been eating so healthy for the last few months? There are so many people eating unhealthy foods and they get to be totally fine, but You had to make me sick after I am trying to better myself for You!

A few things shocked me about my inappropriate response to a minor life challenge such as acid reflux:

  1. I normally get angry with other people when they have life challenges and feel depressed or negative about their future and here I was jumping to the most negative conclusions about my own life.
  2. Those few days where I waited for my test results, there was some strange automatic response whereby I binged on the most unhealthy foods even though I did not enjoy them and watched one movie after another every night even though I did not care for most of them. It was as if I was I was saying to God “You want to hurt me? Well I can hurt myself even more than You!” All this happened in a way where my psyche was split in two, where one part of me was the real me observing my blasphemous and self destructive thoughts/behavior and the other was my ego running the show. For some reason, I couldn’t get a grip over myself and had to just let myself come back to my senses when the time was right (which thank God I did eventually).

In the end it turned out that I had nothing wrong in my body and I simply took some antacids to help relieve my condition.  When the ordeal ended, I felt tremendously ashamed of how I had not just reacted, but over reacted to something so minor.  And even if I did have a serious medical condition, I should have been steadfast and patient. It was then that I realized how important it was for me to keep taking more spiritual selfies.

My humble advice to my human brothers and sisters would be to generously take spiritual selfies and examine all those warts, bumps and parasites that infest all our souls.  Treat all those ailments of the soul before they spread and destroy any chances of an authentic relationship between you and God and you and God’s creation.

You will be able to see a lot about yourself in the spiritual selfie. Observe the level of ease with which you make excuses for your poor behavior and the level of ease with which you make excuses for other people’s poor behavior.  Notice how much effort and resources you are willing to invest for improving your physical appearance and social status versus for improving your character and relationships with others.  Notice how many times you have wished someone died in a dirty ditch for bruising your ego or hurting you compared to how many times you prayed to God to forgive them and make them better.  Take note of your first thoughts when someone you know gets a big promotion at work or gets positively featured in a news article, or gets any sort of small or big happy moment in their life.  Do you wallow in bitter thoughts or do you genuinely feel joy for that person?

Then once you pick out the biggest warts and ugly marks on your soul, firstly, face the truth of the type of person you really are, and not the one you like to believe you are. Next, realize that only God can change you and that He has blessed you with the ability to turn to Him for help.  Understand and acknowledge that ultimately, only God is 100% of the time looking out for your (and everyone’s) good. Turn to God inwardly and open your mouth and speak to Him like you are speaking to your best friend and confidant.  Tell Him what type of person you really need Him to make you into.  And just for fun, notice how you talk to  Him and whether your tone and voice reminds you of your earthly relationships. My conversation with God sounded like I was whining to my mother.

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2 thoughts on “spiritual selfies

  1. How true. I think most believers are angry with God at some level. Even that anger is an act of faith. We expect more from people we know, respect, and love. And when we’ve been disappointed or hurt by them, we get angry. If we react that way when our family and friends let us down, how much angrier will we be when God does? I believe that recognizing our anger towards God is an important step in our faith growth because it opens us to the possibility of a deeper relationship with God. Eating wrong foods and watching boring movies because things don’t go ‘our way’ may seem more like a temper tantrum of a spoiler child, but recognizing what we’re doing and why opens the door to looking for a response from God.

    Some Christians talk about a “dark night of the soul” that many Christian saints have experienced. I think what those saints discovered is precisely what you noticed – that they were “spiritual selfies” and were being confronted with a choice – to recognize their faults and give up on their spiritual quest or to recognize their faults and work harder to letting God work on their insides.

    I’m no saint. I am a “spiritual selfie” but I’ve also learned that reacting to situations out of anger or disappointment may be my first reaction but it doesn’t have to be my only reaction. What I’ve discovered is God works with me. If I need to be angry or hurt for a little while, God leaves me alone – but only for a little while. Then something happens forcing me to confront him again – and let him work within to heal that hurt. This year, I have actually admitted just how angry I am at God and what I’m discovering is that anger slowly dissipating.

    So we’re not perfect human beings; we are spiritual selfies. But that’s not all who we are. We are still people of faith – or at least children of faith who still need to grow up a bit.

    Take care.

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