I Can’t Tolerate … ME.

I Can’t Tolerate … ME.

What do you struggle to tolerate? Is it slow drivers abusing the fast lane? Shoppers abusing the 10 item or less line? Lactose? Gluten? Politicians abusing power? Hollywood elites abusing people? There’s intolerance everywhere. But what about you, do you tolerate you? Sometimes I don’t tolerate me.

Intolerance of self further damages our humanity. Intolerance of our bodies, our faces, our stories, our past, and our brokenness is hurtful. We are only human and that means we have limitations and brokenness. It’s part of our human condition, but it’s often a part we struggle to accept or tolerate. Intolerance of our true humanity impacts how we show up in life.

Let’s back up to explain. Our spiritual ancestors, Adam and Eve, abused the power and freedom they had in God’s garden (Genesis 3). They chose to turn from him and snatch the forbidden fruit. Every one of us has followed suit. They started a crazy train of personal intolerance that leads us into into fear and falseness, like it did them.

Their intolerance was their unwillingness to accept that they had turned away from God. Instead, they pointed fingers at one another and God. They wouldn’t tolerate the reality of their brokenness and accept personal responsibility for a fractured relationship with God. So Adam blames Eve and God, and Eve plays the victim to a serpent. Unwilling to own their sin, they hide behind masks of falseness.

The masks they wore were born of fear. They feared the consequence of owning their sin. They feared standing in the light before God. They feared his response. So, they hid from him rather than standing in the light and saying, ‘Father, here we are, we blew it big time.’

The truth is we all blow it. When we pursue our deepest longings in ungodly ways, we blow it. Adam and Eve tried to fix it, to make a wrong right, by covering themselves in a lie. The lie was born of fear. They put on masks attempting to fool God and each other. The mask of victim and the mask of blamer were lies – they were false ways of pursing a re-connection to God. It failed miserably and the disconnect grew deeper.

We all have masks, and they do us no good. I have the mask of a performer, among others. It’s the false part of me trying to measure up – for me, you and God. It’s driven by the fear that the real me is not enough. It’s fueled by the fear that if you know the real me, my sin, my suffering, my limitations, you will reject me. You see the fear is you won’t tolerate the real me. And deep within I already don’t tolerate me.

My intolerance of my own broken humanity, self rejection, coupled with the imagination of others rejection, prompts the mask of a performer. The performers mask covers the fear of rejection, and both conceal the true self longing to be loved and welcomed.

There are lots of masks such as the people pleaser, judge, cynic, know-it-all, recluse, joker, stoic and hundreds more. There are endless false ways to attempt to cope with our brokenness. The only way to truly be free is to tolerate ourselves. To own our brokenness before God and others.

The true self appears when we shake off our fear and the lies it believes, stand in the light, and accept the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. To tolerate myself begs that I trust that Jesus truly holds me, covers me and secures me in love. His covering alone makes me tolerable, totally acceptable, completely welcome to our heavenly Father. Jesus reconciles us to God such that we need not fear, nor hide in falseness, from Him, one another or ourselves

The true self becomes buried behind layers of fear and falseness. Sometimes the intolerance feels so right, so normal, that we don’t even know the false layers exist, but they do. The remedy is the love of Christ. A love that tolerates the true me, the true you, because we have been remade, reconciled and redeemed by the power of His blood.

Jesus breaks the chains of intolerance, casts off the fear, stripes away the mask and welcomes us to the light. I’m working on tolerating me, because Jesus already has.

The Journey Inward to Find God

by Rob Gibson   May 5, 2016

Post #3 in: Gleanings from a Sabbatical. This is my real and often messy personal treasure that I want to share with you, in hopes it blesses you too.  

I know of no better way to put it, one of my goals was to find God. He wasn’t reported missing, but I knew parts of me were sorely missing him. I prayed that he would search me and show me the inward places that needed him (Psalm 139:23-24). I don’t mean the places that I know are dark and need reformation, you know, the sharp words, the angry act, the selfish choice, the covetousness and lust of the flesh. I see that ugly stuff, want it fixed too, but I know there are deeper roots. I mean places that exist subconsciously, the blindspots. Spots we may really not want to see. Places that are part of the broken subconscious matrix of attitudes, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that prop up my identity, defend my ego, and fights for value.

This is hard territory. It is the core that God wants to occupy, and must, to become more whole.

Let me back up and tell you my experience of God missing in a deeper part. It is an internal emptiness and hunger that will not be sated, even by God’s word (more on this another time). It isn’t merely emptiness, but a feeling of inner space noxiously filled by a demanding intruder. The intruder is busyness, ceaseless strivings, unattainable standards, endless “shoulds” and a droning “do more, it’s not enough.” It’s a dis-ease that makes Paul’s words maddeningly real.

“ …we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children…” (Rom 8:22-23 NLT)

So what is this groaning deep within? I think God’s answer is the old man (Romans 7:19, Eph 4:22), the grappling with disconnection from God, or what some call the false self. The false self is that often unconscious part of ourselves that strives to be its own god (Gen 3;5). It takes the bait, like Adam and Eve, and choses autonomy, hides from God (Gen 3:6-8), and attempts to thrive independent of God.

Conversely our true self is found in deep relational union with God. His desire is to be at the very core of our being, and of course we have no being without him (Col 1:16-17). The true self thrives in oneness with Jesus (as he prays in John 17:20-23), in the mystery of a life hidden in Christ and Christ alive in us (Col 1:27, 3:5). Where disconnected autonomy is present, there is falseness.

My false selves are the critic, the joker, the judge, the analyzer, the perfectionist and the performer, just to name a few. These are learned ways to defend, protect, fight for wholeness, seek worth, and attempt to survive apart from God. They are born out of a broken connection to God and fractured identity. False selves alway operate out of a primal fear. Mine is the fear that I won’t be ok unless. I won’t get what I need, unless. I won’t be valued, unless. I will be rejected, unless. Adam and Eve feared so they blamed and played the victim. This is the deep junk I needed and still need God to excavate in my soul. It’s not easy work and I often avoid it.

So on my journey, driven by the groaning and burnout (the false selves use a lot of energy), I got to work. I was resting and reading in solitude to create space to find God. What I found was a layer of fear and a false self that I thought was adequately contained. Instead, the sneaky performer was there in my sabbatical work. The performer works to be approved, to be loved, to be accepted, to be secure, to be valued, to be enough. It was working to have the ideal sabbatical, to achieve a successful sabbatical. My performer is an over achieving workaholic, even when he isn’t working! It’s never satisfied and it is intense.

The intensity of my false self is deadening and oppressive. It’s deadening because it is a facade and unsuccessful at getting the acceptance, love and value my soul needs and desires. It ultimately fails because it demands what only God can give.

I’ll unpack more in future posts, because I believe this is big for me and maybe for you too. But let me close with four critical awarenesses from my journey. First is the willingness to face the false self and understand why it’s operative. Awareness is a first step to healing and taking action. Second is the reality that it is more ubiquitous than we believe. Third is finding the one thing, one transformative truth or virtue, that confronts and depletes its power. For me that is patience (more on that next time).Lastly is continually turning over the false self to death and welcoming the cure. The cure is Christ more fully alive within (Gal 2:20). The risky vulnerable journey continues daily, but the reward is a growing wholeness, change, depth, and peace that come from a more real union/connection with God, and you.