Letters to Jesus (Ego, False-self, and Groundhog Day -4
Fr. Henri Nouwen reminds us that we are more than our characters and that we should be mindful of this. There are two aspects of this that seem hugely important. One concerns the way we regard ourselves and the other concerns how we look at others.
When we try to look objectively at ourselves we are often unable to get past our persona – our character in the literal sense. We see ourselves and the circumstances of our lives as we would a character in a novel or movie. But we are so much more.
The reality is that we too seldom take stock of who we are in the sense of going beyond the character of the selves we have formed. We know we are more but it’s as if we can’t help ourselves – we just can’t get past our persona. Thus our character is powerfully entangled in our spirituality. We may try to avoid it, but it’s impossible. While it is important that we be forever mindful that we are, in reality, more than our character, we may never see the actual truth of this the way You see it. You see Your Son in each of us in ways far beyond the barriers of the characters we have built up over the years. Maybe the most important thing is that we believe You see far more in us than we see in ourselves. This goes to the heart of the second aspect of this phenomenon: how we get beyond the character of others.
Obviously what is so difficult to do for ourselves is even more difficult to do for others. But again, what is important is that we believe that God sees so much more than we see. In the deepest, darkest, most depressing moments of despair which, at times, we just can’t seem to surmount, God sees more. And what God sees is the reality of that “more” beyond our own worldly persona. Some people call it the “false self.” It’s a good description. It is the character or persona of this false self that deludes us into thinking that truly it is our reality. We live mostly in the aura of these false selves and in the aura of the false selves of others. Only God sees beyond these self-created auras and, at times, He helps us see beyond them, in ourselves and in others, to remind us of who and what we really are.
These are the treasured contemplative moments of the “now” – the present moment when You touch us and whisper to us. It is the transient moment when our character, our false self, drops like a shell and the reality of who we are – the one whom You love – shines before fading back into character.