My life was a performance
By Stephen L France
It’s a jolt to the system to know that most of my life was an egotistical performance, founded on mental wounds of the past, and psychological defence mechanisms intended for self-protection (– I will present an example of this later).
It was harder still to recently read some journal notes of my time living abroad.
Here I rediscovered tangible evidence of my naivety, ignorance, and self-delusion; my ego resurrected through Word documents within my computer archives:
“If there is a major lesson I have had to swallow recently, it is one of humility. A simple truth that I personally have resisted since the dawn of my time in Tortola: Accepting that you need assistance to endure the mass turbulence on this Caribbean roller-coaster.”
This extract from an internet blog post was a lie.
I was desperately trying to convince myself that things would get better when it was blindingly obvious I was in an awful predicament. In essence, I was performing, deceived into thinking I knew humility and desiring the world to believe I was making progress contently.
I really wasn’t and looking at the time stamp of the journal entry, I KNOW this to be fact…
Perhaps it sounds like I’m being excessively self-critical, but it’s simply blunt honesty about my life before Jesus found me. I can fearlessly say He's transformed my mind; I am a different person.
All throughout Jesus’ ministry, The Gospel’s words talk about denying self [Luke 9:23], self-sacrifice, and dying to self.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12: 1 – 2].
These verses use simple words, but relate the great struggle within those of us who have chosen God’s way;
The battle of:
Pride – manufacturing my own personality/ performance
Humility – allowing my natural identity to form through a life given to Jesus
On the surface, it appears very basic; I’m not to boast, be arrogant, or ostentatious [Ephesians 2:8 – 9], and I’m to allow a humble, meek character to develop through my relationship with the Holy Spirit. I’m not to ‘produce’ my own personality, but allow Jesus to fashion my identity [Psalm 40:4].
As I’ve meditated more on the Scripture’s teachings about pride, the Word has revealed that this is an area of intense deconstruction that never ends, especially when you’ve been in and of the world [John 17:15 – 17].
It starts with traumas in childhood; the best example I can provide of the pride VS humility battle’s depth, is through exploration of one of my own mental wounds.
When I was in an infant, I experienced an ample amount of bullying across primary school, play centres, and even Sunday School. The trauma of the antagonism instilled a motion in my heart to learn self-defence.
At around eleven years old, I remember walking out of the library with numerous books on Karate, Aikido, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Judo, etc. The librarian said, “looking to become a vigilante?” or something of the like. At fourteen, I began building up my muscles and took up martial arts in multiple disciplines.
To a secular audience, this reaction may appear like a positive, healthy resolution; after all, I was aiming to protect myself from potential, future harm; however, it’s in this decision that I was ‘performing,’ which is why it was a deception; the root problem/ damage wasn’t tackled at all.
Proper healing of the wound was concealed by an action I adopted to control the outcome of future events in my life; the original wound was unattended and instead a ‘performance’ was created.
If tackled through God and His Word, a more comprehensive form of healing would’ve been founded, perhaps producing a question like: why was the bullying traumatic? This could subsequently have led to full healing of the wound as opposed to my ‘sloppy bandaging.’
The more I pray, reflect on the Bible, and live in this world, the more I realise that Jesus needs to be the foundation of every single aspect of life, because He offers complete truth [Matthew 6:33].
This means focusing everything I do toward God’s will.
Narrowing such a lifestyle to its core—and this is a simplification—is defined in living selflessly.
It means that any opportunity I receive to share God’s grace—which could be in the form of speaking truth, offering time, using my skills, and/or donating money, etc.—I give with sincerity and good cheer [2 Corinthians 9:6-7].
It means I don’t expect a reward for passing on my blessings as my duty is to serve the relationship I have with God – do His will; everything I possess, He has bestowed upon me freely and therefore, I should grant the same to everyone else freely [Matthew 10:8].
After all, His almighty will is for all of us to know salvation [2 Peter 3:9].
Nevertheless, pride will wrestle against us in a multitude of extremely creative ways, to the degree where even humility can be a prideful endeavour if it’s being performed.
Do you struggle against pride and how so? COMMENTS BELOW PLEASE