I Am, Not Me

woman in mirror

I screwed up the other day, and I unintentionally shamed someone.  And it’s times like these when I think (or maybe I’m praying), Where’s the new man, the new self?  Where’s the changed person that I am supposed to be because the living Christ dwells in me?

I’ll bet I’m not the only one who thinks this, who has a lot of good days and sees wonderful progress in becoming who I think I’m created to be by God, and then just when I look the other way for one second, the old man jumps to the fore, reminding me that he (or she, in my case) is still there.  Doesn’t one of my favorite verses, II Corinthians 5:17, say  I am supposed to be different?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (NIV)

This verse makes it sound as if once a person recognizes his or her inclusion in Christ, safe in the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit, the old (or false self) is taken away immediately and replaced with the new (or true self).

My experience (and I’m guessing yours, too) has been that these two natures, our false and true selves, end up coexisting during our physical lives, and the balance between them really relies more on our understanding and belief in our acceptance and worthiness before God (because of our participation in Christ’s life now) than it is on some herculean effort on our part to “will” ourselves to behave and do good.

As a “new (wo)man” in Christ, my true self is loving, patient, and kind:  that is who I am now, as I knowingly live my life, resting in God’s unchanging love and acceptance of me.  However, my false self still is a part of me, still seeking to meet that need for love and acceptance in ways other than resting in the knowledge of who I am as a part of the intimate fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

I think that God is OK with my dual nature, because he sees me through the eyes of Jesus and knows that, ultimately, the true self will win.  He made it that way. In the meantime, his grace has created forgiveness in me, for myself and others, whenever my false self or somebody else’s has a brief moment.

I recently came upon this poem by Juan Ramón Jiménez called “I Am Not I,” and it helps me reconcile the duality of my human nature:

I am not I.

I am this one

walking beside me whom I do not see,

whom at times I manage to visit,

and whom at other times I forget;

who remains calm and silent while I talk,

and forgives, gently, when I hate,

who walks where I am not,

who will remain standing when I die.

~Juan Ramón Jiménez

My true self is who I really am.  It is always with me even when I unintentionally shame someone or screw up, and it is held safe, even after death, by the Triune God.  Amen.

~by Nan Kuhlman

6 comments so far

  1. D. B. Dweeb on

    Wow! This is outstanding… Made my day.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Mr. Dweeb,

      Thanks for taking time to comment and for your kind words. I was pretty sure that I wasn’t the only one who ever experiences this, but one never knows…

      Nan

  2. Ivan Lane on

    You are correct Nan, you’re not the only one who experience this.
    I think about it often. Your words encouraged me today. Thank you.
    God is good………….very good.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Ivan,

      I’m glad to have participated in God’s encouragement to you. God is indeed good, and his grace is abundant!

      Nan

  3. Mark Schnee on

    Thank you for your thoughtful article, Nan. The scripture you quoted, 2 Cor. 5:17, is the apostle Paul’s shorthand for describing our Lord Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection that is effective once and for all. Only from the heavenly perspective of our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead can we look into the past and recognize that it was the eternal Son of God, who assumed and was born into our sin-filled, godless and grace hating flesh and blood, without knowing sin Himself, and as the man Jesus of Nazareth, He bore the old man of sin away in the darkness of death on our behalf. On the third day Jesus was raised from the dead and in Him the new man of the new creation, who mediates faithful service to God and His fellow man for all time.

    We can say with Christ’s apostle Paul that our old man dies daily (1 Cor. 15:31 ESV “…I die every day!”), so that the new man (Jesus Christ) may live in us by His life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45 ESV “…the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”). Every day our outer old man is closer to passing away and the new inner man is renewed according to the being and work of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Spirit to the glory and praise of the Father (2 Cor. 4:16 ESV “…Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day”). This means that we need to be true witnesses to our Lords’ death and resurrection and not false witnesses, who deny our Lord Jesus Christ and only confess ourselves (Col. 3:9-10 ESV “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”)

    It is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who creates us according the glorious image of God that He is! As of yet, we walk in the faith, hope and love of our living and ascended Lord Jesus Christ. We do have the promise that one day our life that is now hidden in Christ, will consummately be completely revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ’s visible coming (Col. 3:3-4 ESV “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”)

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Mark,

      Thanks for your comment and for the scriptural encouragement.

      Nan


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