The True Self as Particular and Universal

Light through leaves.

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding our recent discussions about the true self so interesting and exciting. 

On our last post — which invited us to look at the moments we find ourselves restfully invigorated (if I might coin that phrase) and consider the question “What is it about that rest?” so we might gain greater insight into our true selves — a couple more thoughtful and insightful comments were left by our readers in response. 

Rebecca said: 

For me, it isn’t so much the actual activity, but Posture of my heart. For instance, I can come to the activity of bathing the children and putting them to bed with a grumbling, frustrated heart that is thinking about the DUTY and TASK ahead. When I do that, I find myself exhausted and joyless… Looking forward to just being done! But, when I come to it filled with gratitude for four healthy children, for being able stay home and care for them, with wonder at the miracle of love that I see blossoming in my very own home, the same task becomes a joyous event and I am invigorated instead of exhausted.

When I read Rebecca’s comment, the first thought I had was, “Rebecca’s true self is grateful!” It’s in a posture of gratitude that she finds that invigorated joy, which tells me that deep down, at her very core, she was made to be someone who lives in gratitude.

(Sidenote: I’ve been reading a book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts, and it puts forth the idea that all of us find life, salvation, joy, and rest in this continual posture of gratitude. It’s a remarkable and moving book that I highly recommend, if you haven’t read it already.)

Then Leanne shared a bit more about her experience of watering the transplanted flower: 

I think for me it’s being present. Not thinking about what I’m doing next, or one step in front of the other, or thinking about what happened yesterday. Not thinking about the duty (about the guilt of not watering the rose the day before like I was supposed to), the responsibility like Rebecca said, the grumbling heart …


It’s weird but it’s being present, in the moment, and not being obsessed with myself or what others think of me. Self kinda doesn’t even come into it.

I got excited when I read Leanne’s comment because it made me think of a recent discovery I’d had about the true self, too: that the true self is un-self-conscious

I believe that in some ways, our true selves are particular — tied to the specific persons that we are, the unique personalities, talents, desires, and stations of our lives that God gave to each one of us to incarnate.

But this conversation, in which we’re beginning to reflect on the foundation of those “restfully invigorated” moments we encounter in our lives, may reveal aspects of the true self that transcend particularity. 

The true self may always be a self that is filled with gratitude. The true self may always be un-self-conscious. The true self may always be found fully immersed in the present moment.

The true self may be many things — universally, for all of us — that depend not on our specific particularities but simply on our bearing the image of God.

What do you think?