I’ve been wrestling still with the comparison between what I’ve learned of you from my own journey and what I see littered in the debris of history.
Like I wrote in my last letter to you, I see you everywhere in my story. I feel like my whole life has been nestled inside yours and that all I’ve done is receive — say yes — to all that you’ve implanted in me and designed my life to be.
Even the ability to say yes was given to me by you.
And it has confused me about history. I haven’t known what to do with the painful, wicked realities of this world. If the truth is that you are all good things and that you choose us, we don’t choose you, then why do evil things happen? Did you not choose some?
While I’ve been wrestling with these questions, I’ve also been thinking a lot about the true self and the false self, and I’m starting to think that conversation can be instructive to this conversation here.
It’s my belief that each of us has a true self — a self that conforms to that which you created when you conceived us. Because of original sin, environmental factors, and our own ongoing choices, we also have a false self. It’s not the deepest truth of us, but it exists all the same and we live inside of it and from it much of our lives.
Spiritual formation is the process of being conformed into the original image you conceived for each one of us. It is the process of being conformed into the unique image of yourself that we bear.
I wrote recently that our role in that formation process is simply to say yes. You do all the work of creating conditions and issuing invitations and actually changing us, and we simply say yes to it.
Perhaps the insane chaos of this world that seeks to shatter the divine imprint in humanity’s particularities is the result of human beings saying no. Turning their backs on the truth of who they are — beautiful, glorious creations by the hand of God who are meant to mirror your own love and truth and beauty in this world — and choosing the false self instead.
We are meant to live in harmony with you and with each other. You create the conditions for this. You set the divine imprint and invitation in each one of us. But it is our job to say yes.
And when we say no, hell erupts on earth.
who art in heaven,
hallowed by thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.