There’s a mumble jumble of popular talk these days about finding your “True Self.” Some people call it the Original Self, the Self Before You Were Born, or the Authentic Self. Whatever term you use, the concept refers to finding and living out of the “self” that God created you to be. It invites us to let go of what others say we are, and instead to see ourselves through the eyes of Christ.
One way we can see ourselves as God sees us is to look at the pattern of growth through which our Divine Father molds us. John Eldredge outlines that pattern in his book, Fathered by God. He calls it a pathway to authentic manhood. With a few tweaks, I think it applies to both men and women. It’s a useful tool we can use to step back and look at ourselves. It helps define the characteristics God has ingrained in us—like Divine DNA.
The following are descriptions of how God has designed you and me, along with some affirmations to claim your Divine DNA—your Authentic Self.
The Beloved—I am loved.
During the first few years of our lives, our parents care for us and attend to our every need. They adore us. They hold us to their chests so we can feel the warmth of their love. This is also the way God shows us we are God’s Beloved. We are loved unconditionally by the Creator of the Universe. We are safe. We are good.
The Adventurer—My life is a journey.
During our teenage years, we venture out into the world. We take chances by pushing ourselves to try out for sports, audition for the school play, or apply for our first job. We test our limits and develop resilience. I can do this. I have what it takes. We realize that although the world can be tough, we’re able to manage it. We are co-creators with the Divine and have been given the freedom to live the life we imagine. And God is with us on our life’s adventures.
The Warrior—I have inner strength.
After high school, we complete our education, pursue careers, find a spouse or partner, or live the single life. We stake out our unique roles in the world. We learn to fight for what we want and need. We figure out how to resist people or things that are bad for us. During this stage of life, we experience the warrior strength of God. We realize God is with us in life’s trenches. The Divine Father fights alongside us so we can pursue what is right and push back against what is wrong.
The Lover—I am loving and kind.
Around age thirty, we discover a deeper sense of compassion for ourselves and others. We’ve learned how to care for ourselves, our children, and our other loved ones. We’ve experienced hurt and know how to let unconditional love help us forgive. This stage of life teaches us about the heart of God. God is the Divine Lover. We are shaped and molded by the Creator’s love, and that love now flows in and through us, and out into the world.
The Gifted—I have unique gifts to offer the world.
During our forties, we discover and affirm our unique talents and gifts. We know what makes us come alive in service to others, and we use those gifts to make the world a better place. We might volunteer to help others or pursue a second career or hobby. During this phase of life, we become a servant leader, letting God show us our unique place in the world and helping us become a healing force for others. We embrace our unique gifts and use them in life-giving ways for ourselves and others.
The Sage—God has granted me Wisdom.
During our senior years, we reflect on the wisdom and insight we’ve learned through our experiences. We are called now to mentor others and share our wisdom with them. We tell the stories of our lives to grandchildren and other friends and relatives, and invite them to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and the world. We’ve experienced life’s hardships, but have not allowed them to make us bitter. Rather, they’ve helped us become better. We find purpose in passing on God’s wisdom to the next generation.
It’s a life-long journey
These stages of life are not typically linear. We often have our feet in one stage as we lean gradually into the next one, or we may skip a stage to return to later.
Depending upon our upbringing, we don’t always experience life’s stages in healthy ways. For example, we might have had a tough childhood and need to go back and reclaim that no matter what, we are God’s Beloved.
To see ourselves with the eyes of Christ and to develop deeper understanding of who we are, we can look at these stages and see which ones have unfolded or are unfolding in healthy ways, and which ones we need to go back and learn more about, so we can find the inner peace and wholeness of being fully who we are in Christ. With inner vision, we can see how God has led us through each phase of life, and which ones we need to work on a little more.
Eldredge says these phases are a path that leads to authentic manhood. I believe they are a path for both men and women that steers us to live our Authentic Selves.
The Beloved stage is the one I’m still working on. It’s hard for me to believe God loves me just the way I am. Here and now. But, as I let God help me embrace that truth, I see how he has guided me through each phase of life.
This week, consider pondering the above characteristics of your Divine DNA to determine where you are in life’s journey.
What stage are you currently in?
Which stage are you moving toward?
Which one(s) do you need to go back and let God work with you on a little more?
See how these patterns of growth mold you. Use the affirmations to help you embrace who you are.
Reclaim your Authentic Self.
—brian j plachta