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To Thine Own Self…

May 23, 2011

The following is a devotional I wrote for a recent women’s breakfast at my church. I was unable to make it as I had contracted the plague a bad cough. Fortunately I had enough energy to type it out and one of the ladies read it at the breakfast. Apparently there was also some good conversation afterwards. So, since I have it written out verbatim, I figure I’ll share it with all of you. Please let me know your thoughts!

Devotional

Does anyone know where this quote comes from:

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst then be false to any man.

This quote is from Hamlet. One of the characters is instructing his son in the right way to live.

When I was asked to do this devotional, I thought about that quote because I have been asking myself “who am I” and “why am I this way” a lot lately.

I think most of us can say that we’ve had times when we wonder why we are a certain way. Why are we so emotional, or why are we unable to tap into our emotions? Why do we find ourselves so worried about saving for a rainy day that we never do anything fun now? Or, why do we live in the moment so much that we aren’t prepared for that rainy day? Why do we say exactly what we think, even when that’s maybe not what people want to hear? Or, why do we hold in our opinions so much?

We all of us have something about ourselves that we might not like, that we might have even asked God why? Why did you make me this way?

I was looking up Bible verses last night, and I found Psalm 139:14: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Now I don’t mean to demean that verse because it is beautiful, and important to know. But when you are in the middle of self doubt, it’s really easy to read that and think “yeah, right.”

Ok, maybe it’s only me. But sometimes I just need to know that I’m messed up and it’s ok.

So what I also found last night was a verse about weaknesses. Because I’ve been talking about what we don’t like about ourselves, right? Our weaknesses often involve us being “too something” (too loud, too emotional, too laid-back, too blunt). And you have to wonder why on earth God gave us these aspects of ourselves that are just too much.

And then I read this verse that Paul wrote to the Corinthians. Now let me preface it by saying that I don’t believe any of our character aspects are directly from Satan. But listen to what Paul says about this “thorn in his flesh” and God’s response to it:

In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

That verse was a revelation to me. If I can simply recognize my weaknesses—for me the big one is my emotions, for you it might be something else—I can recognize how God wants to come in and rest his power on me. I think of Joyce Meyer, an internationally-known Christian speaker who is highly emotional and often speaks her mind before thinking it through fully. You might not think that is the kind of person God would want sharing the Gospel with millions of people, and yet, there she is.

Why is Joyce so successful at spreading God’s word? I believe it is in part because she has faced her weaknesses head-on. She acknowledges them before God and even before all of the people in her audiences. She then gives them to God and says “Ok, here I am, me and my big mouth. What do you want to do with me?” And God comes in with power.

So what does this mean to me, to us? I believe it goes back to the quote from Shakespeare. To thine own self be true. It is only when we are able to be true to ourselves, to accept ourselves fully, weaknesses and all, that we are able to open ourselves up to God’s power in our lives. And it is then that we will no longer be false to anyone else. Then, when we are able to present ourselves fully and honestly to the world, strengths AND weaknesses, that other people will see God shining through us. And isn’t that the point?

Think about this: When people see someone who is an amazing, world-famous singer, I would guess that they focus on the singer’s talents. So unless that singer is constantly reminding people how much God has been a part of their life, they have no ministry–they only have performances.

But if you see someone who says “look I’m messed up too, I could never have been here except for God,” then the power of the gospel has room to break free.

It doesn’t make sense as the world would want it to, does it? But remember 1 Corinthians 1:27: God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

Accept your weaknesses and rejoice that you have them, for what the world may see as a handicap God has placed specifically and purposefully in you. For you ARE fearfully and wonderfully made, and He has a purpose for you, flaws and all.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2011 8:52 am

    Those are powerful and wise words you wrote. I need to read it again (and probably again!) Remembering that we have a purpose can get lost in the “I’m too…” whatever the case may be. That last paragraph sums it up well.

    • May 25, 2011 10:33 pm

      Thanks, Ally! I definitely do have to fend off the “I’m too” arguments a lot, and I love knowing that God says “Actually, you’re just right.” 🙂

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