Tempting Us to Our Real Identity

“The only journey is the one within.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke


            That quote is one of my favorites.  I truly believe that deep and meaningful life is rooted in the ability to take the journey to really get to know oneself, warts and all.  I sometimes feel as if this journey has taken a back seat to other journeys.  We avoid this journey at all costs, afraid of what it might reveal.  Yet, traveling this road can be one of the most life-giving experiences to us!  It has the potential to bring us to greater awareness.  It has the ability to give us new eyesight for the world within us and the world around us.

            Part of this journey, in my experience, is a bit destructive. As we may know with any construction project, something needs to be taken down or destroyed before we can begin to build the new.  Another favorite quote of mine is from Pema Chodron’s book, When Things Fall Apart:


“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.”


Part of the process of getting to the root and heart of who we are is destroying the things in us that are not us.  As traumatic as this may feel and seem, maybe this seismic event is shaking the foundation that we thought was us, and moving us onto higher ground and a more solid foundation of our authenticity!  What needs to be destroyed in us in order to move more deeply into the real us?

            On this first Sunday of Lent, we see Jesus after his baptism in the desert being tempted by the devil. He is tempted to an identity formed by Satan.  He is tempted to see himself as one who can turn stones into bread.  Is that all Jesus is?  Or is he more than just physical food?  Is he someone who truly is sustained by food that is from above?  Which food is more satisfying?

            Jesus is tempted to be one who is privileged.  Because of his Son of God status, he will never be hurt.  Another temptation to a false identity.  Jesus, and us, are not immune to being hurt or being in danger.  Yet even so, we are still beloved children of God.  That part of our identity does not depend on God saving us from dangerous and harmful life situations.

            Jesus is tempted a third time.  He is seduced into power and glory, giving him god-like status.  Jesus is reminded of who he is and where that identity comes from – his relationship with God, and not by his social status.

            Might this 40 day journey be a journey within, to go where “no man has gone before” – to the inner depths of yourself?  To the places where we see who we thought we were, or places in ourselves that gave us a false sense of identity?  Might this journey be a bit of a Michelangelo, where we work with God to chip away at the stony rock to expose the deep and abiding truth and beauty that lies beneath?  The indestructible YOU that is at the core of your being.

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