I’ve often heard wise teachers say, “God is passionately in love with you, and there is nothing you can do but receive his love as a gift.”
Why are those words so difficult to accept, I ask? How come they get stuck in my head, failing to make the eighteen-inch journey from my mind into my heart? Why do I continue to haunt myself with judgment and self-doubt?
The problem of self-doubt is universal. It blocks us from receiving the gift of the Creator’s unconditional love.
Like many people, I tongue lash myself, beating my chest with whips and chains of “shoulds” that leave battle scars on my ego. I should be a better person. I should lose ten pounds. I should take in a Ukrainian refugee and save the world.
The “I should” list goes on forever. It’s like a dandelion weed whose dark roots sink deep into my finite brain, choking me with one negative judgment after another.
I’d like to take a spade and dig to the bottom of this self-inflicted punishment—grab the roots, pull them out, and receive God’s gift of unconditional love and acceptance.
But I resist the invitation, and the weeds of self-doubt continue to grow. They smother the joy and inner peace I want to experience.
On a recent week-long retreat, I asked God to draw me deeper into my relationship with the Divine and my Inner Self. I prayed the Creator would shower me with the grace of knowing he and I are One.
Through a friend’s God-nudge, I picked up a copy of John Raub’s book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?: Freedom from Judgment, Guilt and Fear of Punishment. Raub’s words were an answer to prayer. They shed light on the roots of my weed-infested psyche.
Raub says that over time we develop a false self—one we expect ourselves to live up to. Our ego wants us to be perfect, to attain an illusive “self” that’s always just beyond our reach.
The false self is filled with a landscape of “I shoulds” and “I didn’ts.” It feels separated from ourselves and God. It’s rooted in guilt, fear, and self-inflicted judgment.
But the false self is an illusion we’ve created. It becomes an idol we worship at the altar of perfectionism. If only we had the power to become the perfect self we have fabricated, then we’ll finally make ourselves—and God—happy. If only we weren’t human, then maybe we could become a god.
The struggle with our false self, Raub says, ends when we give up the desire to be powerful and in control, when we accept being human is who we are, and when we take the journey to discover our Inner Self—the self that’s grounded in the Source of our Being. Then we stop the power grab to become a perfect god and instead allow the Creator to grace us with the inner freedom to be who we are already—a human and divine being passionately loved by the Creator.
This is our Inner Self, our True Self in God. This True Self can say with conviction, “God is passionately in love with me. I cannot stop his love, so I’ll receive it as gift.”
When we claim those words as truth, there’s an inner freedom that flows through our hearts as our minds let go and God’s unconditional love floods us.
Our relationship with the Creator and our Inner Self then deepens as we realize the God of abundant love accepts us as we are, where we are, and desires to guide us with Divine Wisdom. Our True Self dives deep into the pool of an amazing life-long relationship with the Source of our Being. We let go of power and instead claim inner freedom.
On the retreat, I realized I’ve been trying to live up to a false image of myself, one that wants to be in control and perfect.
As God invited me to take the journey to my Inner Self, I found freedom—freedom to let God shower me with unending love. Freedom to be who I Am in God, whose Spirit lives in my heart.
Freedom to be in an amazing love affair with the One who calls me his friend.
—brian j plachta
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