“What are these true and false selves?” Some of you have asked for descriptions. I borrow words from Becoming Who You Are by James Martin, S.J.: “… the false self is the person that we present to the world, the one that we think will be pleasing to others: attractive, confident, successful. The true self, on the other hand, is the person that we are before God.”
Living out the process of discovering the true self while leaving behind the false one is a our unique path toward holiness. Holiness, Martin says, “consists of being true to the person God created.”
I am learning every day that God is specific and expects me to follow suit. His invitation to wholeness is extended within the boundaries of personal particulars. Added to this set of variables is my approach to life based on personality and temperament. I relate to God, life and my personal world differently than do my friends, neighbors or the people with whom I share a pew on Sunday mornings.
In a classic line from Chariots of Fire, Ian Charleson portraying 1924 Paris Olympics athlete Eric Liddell says: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Liddell experienced God and his true self while he was running. He received this ability with joy, fully accepting it as divine intention for him.
For Liddell, sanctity meant running. For someone else it might be in being at home with a preschooler. Maybe it’s playing the piano, despite no one hearing but God. Others might be living out God’s design by solving complex business problems. The list is endless, and the lesson is eternal: All we have to be is ourselves.