Loving Freely is a resource developed by Dan Crain, Pastor, Consultant and Connector for REMERGE.
Loving Freely unpacks the need for us to examine ourselves in order to truly know how to love and serve others as the beloved children of God. The process is spelled out through the Loving Freely Process and able to be lived into with the Loving Freely Seven.
It is a five hour training introducing those who help others to receive help themselves.
Recently a friend said to me about the false self, “If you’re not working on it, it’s working on you.”
This phrase has been sticking with me every since she said it. Robert Mulholland, a seminary professor that spent his entire life studying the difference between the false self and the true self in Christ says this in his book, The Deeper Journey; “The reality of this pervasive, deeply entrenched, self-reference structure of being as the primary context of our spiritual journey is one of the hardest things for us to acknowledge.”
Paul describes it in Romans 7 as, “another law at work in me,”.
Pete Scazzero says regularly; “Jesus may be in your heart, but grandpa’s in your bones.”
What does this pervasive, deeply entrenched, another law at work in me actually do?
It’s constantly looking to be affirmed and approved of.
It tries to control people and life.
It becomes attached to people, things and ministries falsely believing that those things will give it the peace it so greatly longs for.
It never slows down and takes breaks because it believes that it’s not worth being served or taking breaks.
It feeds off of the yes of ministry and needs people to change to feel better about itself.
It leaks out all the time with people, programs or anything God has allows me to have influence over.
In short, the false self in us is always looking for one of four things when we love poorly; the approval or affirmation of others, to be in control of others, looking for safety and security from others, or trying to be separate, which means to be our own god.
So much of the thing that is at work in me is rooted in the wounds I carry from my past. This other thing at work in me never believes I am good enough and a failure and constantly feels like I need to impress people. So, what do we do? How do we actually live into the true self in Christ that has already been established in us?
I used to always think that if I could just gain victory over my false self, or if I could just get to a point that I won’t struggle with this, then I will truly be free.
Then a few years ago I visited an AA meeting. The level of honesty and humility in this space is so refreshing. To be clear, I don’t have a narcotics issue, I have a codependent issue with my false self. I love the first step in the twelve steps of AA. “We admit we were powerless over our addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.”
“I am finding as I continue the journey to being the beloved child of God and loving freely from the Island of Peace in my soul, that I must admit that I am powerless to this addiction of the false self. I cannot save myself and that I need Jesus daily and most of the time, moment by moment. In short, I need the alien righteousness that only comes from Christ and Christ alone.”
In the Apostle Paul’s words he says it like this in I Corinthians 15; “I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
Paul sees this false self and old man of sin so destructive and powerful in his life that he sees the need to die to it daily. We have to be honest about the daily struggle. Dr. Anthony Gordon of Desire Street Ministries says it like this, “It’s going to be a daily struggle as we claw inch by inch to gain victory over the false self to live into the freedom we have in Christ.”
This is why I love the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Daily Office resource in order to slow our lives down to be with Christ. It’s in this space of silence that I can hear from Christ and His word, examine why I do what I do, refocus and be the person God calls me to be. This silence with Christ allows me too, “check yourself, before you wreck yourself.” If I don’t force myself to be alone with Christ and be reminded of my belovedness, I become a wrecking ball that influences all of my relationships around me.
It’s in the silence that I sense the Holy Spirit pointing me back to my family of origin and name what is driving me. Howard Thurman says this about silence in Meditations of the Heart, “There is very great virtue in the cultivation of silence, and strength to be found in using it as a door to God. Such a door opens within. When I have quieted down, I must spend some time in self-examination in the presence of God. It is at such moments that I may become literally overwhelmed by a profound sense of the love and the grace of God.”
Here’s a specific set of questions that I ask myself when I am alone with Christ in the scriptures;
What is happening inside of me right now or what am I feeling?
What did my false self want in that moment when I was led to serve the other?
Was it longing for approval or affirmation from someone?
Was it longing to be in control?
Was I lashing out for safety or security?
Was I longing to be separate and be my own god?
Being able to name what “it” wants and bring it to Christ begins the process for us to be able to love others freely. I then allow Christ’s Spirit to guide me back to the truth of the scripture that I am meditating on. Recently it’s been the John 13-17 text of Jesus spending time with his disciples in the last supper. Sitting in the scripture of the fact that the Holy Spirit of God will comfort me and guide me into all truth of what I already have in Christ refreshes me and re-centers me, and allows me to then move outwards to the other.
What is “it” for you? If you’re not checking it, it will work on you and ultimately destroy you.