By Dan Crain; REMERGE Pastor and Connector


We’ve been in our beautiful neighborhood, South Atlanta for almost seven years now. Six years ago a close personal friend that mentored us into the work we are doing suggested I read Pete Scazzero’s book; Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. I am not sure why he recommended I read this book; maybe it was because he saw some highly codependent tendencies in me?


The material was not all that new for me. I had read Henri Nouwen, Howard Thurman, Parker Palmer, Watchman Nee, done my own personal counseling, filled pages and pages of journaling, memorized whole passages of scripture and spent hours alone with Christ sorting through my own darkness.


The basic premise that Scazzero is getting it as that we need to slow our lives down to be with Christ and visit our family of origin in order to see how we are still living from our past wounds. I read the book and thought to myself, “I got this”.


But the problem was that I didn’t. Two years later I had burned out serving and loving out of my family of origin, which led me doing things for the wrong reasons. I was never good enough as a child and so I felt like I needed to prove something and so ministry easily became a way to prove that I was good. It led me to doing some very irrational and idealistic things so that I could fill a void in myself due to results of sin and the fall of humanity.


I think that’s the struggle for many of us on this journey to wholeness in Christ. We are so well aware of all these scriptures, principles, ways of thinking and praying, yet we find ourselves back at square one constantly. We constantly think to ourselves, “We got this.”


Many days I find myself like Paul in Romans 7, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prison of the law of sin at working in me. What a wretched man I am!” Some commentators and pastors think that this is Paul before Christ. Based on my own experiences with the false self, I don’t. I feel this other thing at work in me constantly. This false self that wants to be fearful, be protective, possessive, manipulate, destroy, self-promote, indulge, and categorize.


Robert Mulholland in his book; “The Deeper Journey” says this; “The reality of this pervasive, deeply entrenched, self-referenced structure of being as the primary context of our spiritual journey is one of the hardest things for us to acknowledge.”


Mulholland goes on to say; “Repentance is not being sorry for the things you have done, but being sorry you are the kind of person that does such things. I began to realize that underneath the thin veneer of my religiosity lived a pervasive and deeply entrenched self-reference being which was driven by its own agendas, its own desires, its own purposes, and that no amount of superficial tinkering with the religious façade made any appreciable difference. Then I happened to read those familiar words: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just so that he might forgive us our sins and might cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). I realized for the first time that God’s purpose for us was not simply to forgive sins but to transform our false self—to cleanse all its unrighteousness, to make us righteous, to restore our true self in loving relationships with God and in being Christ like in the world.”


It is only in trusting in Christ that we can begin to take the journey from the false self to the true self, and this is done daily. Recently in a conversation with Dr. Anthony Gordon of Desire Street Ministries on this topic he said this; “None of us will graduate from the struggle of the false self. We know the victory in Christ, but we get into behavior patterns that lead us back again and again to the flesh. We will all struggle with this and inch by inch gain victory in and through Christ.”


As we love and serve those on the margins, may we realize that Christ calls us to lay our lives down daily, moment by moment in order to come to a place where we are loving freely.


What do we do now?

  • Treat the false self like an addiction. It must be repented of moment by moment with a careful attention to God’s presence in and around you.
  • Reflect on the indwelling life of God’s spirit inside of you that is leading and guiding you into all truth.
  • Trust the community around you you. If you feel like you need to do counseling, do counseling. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality has developed a great small group curriculum.
  • Ask those you serve and love to pray for you in your journey and struggle and as the spirit leads, learn to be open and vulnerable.
  • Dig deep into the scriptures, particularly the Psalms understanding our story begins in the garden and that this struggle is not just yours.
  • Dig deep into solitude with Christ, examine your motives through journaling or contemplation. But, whatever you do get away in silence. I personally know no other way to journey from the false self to the true self in Christ other than being with God in silence in the scriptures.
  • Join a monthly “Loving Freely” learning co-op where we deal with the internal and external work of Christ’s reconciliation.

Give your comments