Social media is full of helpful posts—be your best self, find happiness, ditch those destructive habits, achieve, succeed, change. We’re bombarded by encouraging voices selling a better version of us and our life. Friends, none of their suggestions create wholeness. In a self-help world, we need sacred self-awareness.
Self-awareness vs. self-help, the difference is key
Your goals are good. Personal growth isn’t easy. Neither is healing. Obviously, you’re willing to work hard, even when it might be challenging and painful. In fact, helping you be successful is one of my goals.
At first glance, self-help doesn’t seem harmful. So what’s the big deal?
On their own, self-help tools are helpful, albeit incomplete. Self-help is built upon the idea that you can work hard enough to correct or redirect any part of your life. You are strong and determined, able to achieve amazing things. That part is true. But, you weren’t meant to carry the weight of your life alone.
Self-help also assumes we know what is best for our lives. You become the master of your destiny. Whether or not you include God’s will is completely up to you. Therein lies the problem with self-help—it’s all about your desires and your abilities.
In contrast, self-awareness asks us to be honest about ourselves. Good, bad, in-process, strength, weakness, needs, gifts, abilities—we acknowledge who we are and our need for God to help us become who he created us to be.
What motivates you?
In my early twenties, I was on a mission to become known. Writing those words makes me cringe now, but they’re true. Future success seemed inevitable and all my efforts were focused on one big goal—qualify for a very special national leadership team. For the life of me, I can’t even remember the program’s name now.
My fall was swift and hard.
God’s will wasn’t part of my plan. Instead, every decision focused on me, my abilities, and passing from step to step on the way to my goal.
When I say the fall was hard, I’m not exaggerating. The fall was painful, leaving me broken. Obviously, I wasn’t good enough and I was lost without my purpose. There was nothing anyone could say to change my mind. Instead of seeing all of my achievements, all I saw was a loss—my loss.
Sacred self-awareness in a self-help world
Very few of us really know ourselves. The idea of honestly evaluating who we are is daunting—leading to deeper hurt, greater adequacies, and bigger obstacles than we’d like to admit. None of us are good enough on our own.
And that is the point. Wholeness requires more than we can give.
Wholeness is not whole until we welcome in God and his will. I love a good goal, but without the wisdom of God, that goal could be leading you far outside his will and your abilities. Instead of self-help, we desperately need sacred self-awareness. In complete humility, we need to give the identity we’ve created for ourselves, with all its components, over to God, and ask him to reveal who we really are and who he has created us to be.
Sacred self-awareness brings God’s goodness and grace into focus. With him, what is impossible on our own becomes achievable.
Moses was a murderer and a bumbling speaker, but he became a prophet like no other. Rahab was a prostitute, but God used her to fulfill his promise to the Israelites. Paul was an outsider who took the church well outside the Jewish community.
Devote yourself to self-awareness focused on who you are and who God wants you to be. Choose to do the hard work on God’s behalf. Stop relying on yourself.
Your next steps
Eliminate all your distractions. Sit in the uncomfortable silence of someone looking for answers. Consider your motivations and influences. Are you relying on God or yourself?
Choose to be quiet and reflect. When you eliminate distractions, what is God showing you about yourself? How is he honing your gifts? In which areas does he want you to grow or heal?