I find the following discussion on tenderness by Brennan Manning in his book Abbas Child to be challenging. Maybe I am afraid of tenderness?
As we experience the tenderness of God towards us, this tenderness, makes us feel secure and we discover that “we are thoroughly and sincerely liked by someone. . . The defense mechanisms of the imposter-sarcasm, name-dropping, self-righteousness, the need to impress others-fall away. We become open, real, vulnerable, and affectionate. We grow tender. 64
“The way of tenderness avoids blind fanaticism. Instead it seeks to see with penetrating clarity. The compassion of God in our hearts opens our eyes to the unique worth of each person.” 73
“The rhythm of relentless tenderness in the Rabbi’s heart makes loving terribly personal, terribly immediate, and terribly urgent.” 164
That last quote does not leave much wiggle room!
Started to re-read Brennan Mannings Abbas Child after a friend recently returned it to me and I discovered that I had never gone thru and marked it up! In his early chapters Manning is talking about self-hatred and what he calls the imposter or false self (selves). Where do these false selves come from? They seem to come from a self-protective front or persona that we take on to protect us from the pain of rejection or abandonment. But, I disagree with Mannings assessment that we need to accept those false selves since that is not who I really am. I want to believe the truth about my real identity in Christ. However, I do need to recognize the various false selves I have created and project to protect the pain inside. I wrote in his book, “Don’t deny them, recognize false images but realize that is not who I really am. Even as I write this, I am asking myself if there is any biblical basis for this idea of false selves. I know Benner wrote about it in his spiritual formation trilogy as have many others. Ok, here are some of my more prominent false selves? From Manning, What are the voices that tell me I am unloved or unaccepted, that tempt me to reject myself? “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life,” says Manning on p. 24. I am not sure about that –seems pride is a greater problem to me–but it is a problem that needs to be addressed! ok, some for me
Performer: This is the one who says that I am only valuable based on my accomplishments or I am only okay if others like me. Of course I know that I am accepted as I am by God without doing anything. God loves me regardless. Genuine friendships are gifts and it is okay to want to be liked but whenever that becomes my controlling motivation we have a problem. Seems like a need for respect drives this for me. Again, it is ok to want to produce, to have a work of my hands BUT I must realize that I am loved and accepted even if I should be unable to do anything and second, as the Psalmist requests of God, “Establish the work of our hands.” God causes the growth even tho we are the ones who sow!!
A few other false selves I came up with yesterday when I was journaling: Competent David, Knowledgeable David, Rescuing David, Curious David–not bad but when I need to know and resort to interrogating and compulsively have to know….not good. Controlling–get my way but I think, there is a really a trust issue here related to competence? Can I trust other people to do a job well and if they don’t will I look bad?
This seems like a negative post but I am in a coffee shop and looking over my journal from yesterday so I am not so focused. I have come a long way over the past years–thank you Lord. I am grateful for an increasing freedom to be my true self in Christ but I guess it still is a daily battle to reflect on who I am, to wait before God, in His love and acceptance and out of that fullness, love others.
Will keep reading Manning and try to come back to interact with his thoughts. Interesting that he is not clicking so much with me this time around. Appreciate any comments.