Insights with Emily: I am good

Emily Salerno-Oswald
Scriptural Columnist

How often do you allow yourself to be yourself?

This question may seem like a mind-bending riddle that would be more fitting for some sort of philosophy class, but we are going to venture down this path anyway.

You may ask, “How can you allow yourself to be yourself?”

Well, the opposite is certainly possible, and it happens quite frequently.

We often don’t allow ourselves to be fully ourselves. We taper or suppress parts of ourselves, depending on who we’re around or how we expect to be received by them.

Perhaps even worse, we may find ourselves funneling out certain parts or only choosing to reveal certain parts of ourselves that we feel “fit” God’s expectations of us, especially while in prayer. When we do this, we bury the other parts and tell ourselves not to tap into them because we simply “shouldn’t.”

For example, I connect to God very well through music, but many times, I assume that encountering God through music is a lesser form of prayer because I’m not sitting in silence, waiting to hear what God will say to me. Now, silence is very necessary in prayer life, but that doesn’t mean that something like music can’t be just as necessary for us to commune with God.

Another example is that, when I try to be still before God, I often find myself consumed with many thoughts. Either that, or I find myself observing my surroundings instead of being entirely focused on that for which I am listening.

Many times, I shame myself for thinking and observing instead of deliberately “praying,” and I am very apprehensive to engage in personal prayer because I associate it with self-shame.

You’ll notice that the above sentences are written in the present tense. That is because this is something that I still struggle with on a daily basis.

Recently, however, I approached prayer a bit differently. I received the inclination to let myself think, before God, and see where my thoughts took me. It turns out that God could speak to me through my thoughts and use them as a medium for his messages to get through to me. We can actually think together and be of one mind and one wavelength.

Now, of course, I am not saying to write off conventional means of prayer like Scripture and silent meditation. But I am saying that it is essential that we allow ourselves to take a breath and be who we are before God.

He knows who we are anyway. He knows the days when something else is on our mind or we’d rather be somewhere else. He knows what we actually like to do and what we pretend we like to do. He made us the way we are, so why do we assume he wants us to be anything other than that?

Another distinction I want to make is that I am not suggesting you should condone your sin, under the lie, “This is just the way I am.” However, even in our sin, Christ looks upon us with love and mercy.

Christ does not see us and our sin as one in the same, or else he would not have thought us worth saving. God sees past our sin, to the core of who we truly are, and that core is his good son or his good daughter. His ultimate mission is to set every son and daughter free.

I challenge you to stop filtering out the parts of yourself that you think “disappoint” God. Because, in truth, nothing is being filtered. It is only being hidden and suppressed, and there is no way for us to be truly content until it is allowed to be revealed.

If I am a thinker, then let it be so. If I am an observer, then let it be so. If I am most receptive to God through music, then let it be so. Trying to change or deny those parts of myself is only hindering my ability to encounter God.

God gave us what we have for a reason. If I am willing, then my thoughts, observations and music — things I thought were barriers between me and God — can actually be a highway for hm to have access to my heart.

Accepting this will likely not be a one-and-done sort of thing, but rather something that God convinces me of more and more over time, as I get to know him better. Likewise, God is patient with each of us as we allow him to gradually teach us something new.

You may be surprised to find that the things you think are “wrong” with yourself, God doesn’t see that way. He sees every part of you as an opening for transmitting his love.

God is not disappointed in you for being yourself in front of him. He sees it as the greatest gift when you share your true self with him. Take the risk of believing that this week, and then try it.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” — Psalm 139:14-16

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” — 1 Timothy 4:4