We must die daily to the small self

Photo by Tim Marshall

I was writing my way through this one the other day when I wrote about being the clumsy stewards of our own souls (read here if you missed it). Since then, a couple other insights have showed up that I’d love to share with you today…

As I mentioned, I have a deep, intuitive feel that our soul has a ‘calling’. But I was thrashing about on whether that calling was specific (“You are to be a carpenter with 2.67 kids, a white sedan in the garage, and a dog named Susan.”) or more up for grabs (“You are infinite potential.”).

The first option seems stifling and the second one seems vague and obtuse. But here’s what I learned…

We find our freedom, not in what our small self wants to be, but in our freedom to become who our indwelling God urges us to be.

I know this sounds like an empty religious platitude, but allow me to expand a bit here…

I don’t understand God to be a human in the clouds who wants our lives to fit into a predetermined shaped box. If it were such, life according to the ego would be a lot easier. But whenever we think we’ve found that box, and we get in it, we find it… stifling. No?

I understand God as a place. A Presence where mind, body, and spirit meet. This is the divine nature of the human experience. This is the trinity.

When we’re in this place, we feel the yearning of God towards an infinite possibility of growth along with the knowingness that all is perfect right now.

Divine freedom is one of relaxed, innate infinitude. Not one of control and manipulation into some sort of mold.

We obey God by turning to do God’s will, which is for us to be free in this very holy instant. We are created for freedom. And freedom is impossible for the ego to wrap its limited head around.

We must accept this gift for ourselves so we can fall back into the God within and give our gifts back to the world — whatever beautiful form we make of them in that eternal moment.

We must die to ourselves, daily. We must surrender the small self that tells us we have to be and/or do anything. Because this is what the small self does. It tells us that, if we just become/do/think a certain thing, then all will be right with the world.

But you and I both know that, when we think we’ve found ‘it’, we’ve only strayed further from home. Like the late, great Thomas Merton said…

Only when we are able to “let go” of everything within us, all desire to see, to know, to taste and to experience the presence of God, do we truly become able to experience that presence with the overwhelming conviction and reality that revolutionize our entire inner life. 
 — Thomas Merton

Jamming ourselves into an ego-created box isn’t freedom, it’s slavery. Freedom is frightening to the egoic small self. Because freedom is uncertain. It’s expansive. Vast. Unpredictable.

But when we die to our small selves, we find that compassion comes easy. We find solace in the holy relationship between us and another. We reach out to those in need as naturally as if we were getting a glass of water for ourselves when we feel parched. We live contemplatively and surrender to the God space within that holds the perfection of the present moment.

“Father, . . . not my will but yours be done” 
Luke 22:42

Prayerful Meditation

I know my freedom doesn’t lie in my ego’s little urges to be, do, or think a certain thing. These urges are often solid one moment but fleeting the next. True freedom is Divine. It rests in the infinite possibility of growth within while knowing that it is perfect right here and now. I take this holy instant to obey this indwelling God. I surrender my small self and die into the arms of a overwhelmingly loving Presence that has never left my side. I feel the freedom this Presence holds true for me. I know that my human fear of it will likely never fade away, but right now, I know it is lessening in intensity and losing its relevance in my life. I am more than the small me. I am free. And I open up to the expansiveness of God. And so it is.