Self. I have one of those. You have one of those.
I cannot speak for all selves, but I can speak on my struggle with stewarding my own self.
I am a mother and I consider one the greatest endeavors to which I will give my self, but that is not the totality of my self. For the past decade, self has rightly taken a healthy back seat to stewarding the precious and pivotal early years of my three children. Yet as I am emerging from the baby phase of stay-at-home mothering, I find myself renewed in the wrestle of self-stewarding.
While motherhood is not a degree program from which one matriculates, the seasons of motherhood change. For me, the early elementary season has cleared out a sliver of space for my self to reappear.
While initially that sounds lovely, it has propelled me into a season of wrestling and wondering over how to steward my self when given more space in which to stretch it.
There are two prevailing notions of how we steward our selves, and neither work well. I know from experience.
The society in which we live stains our souls with the idea that we must be self-actualizing people. In this vein of thinking, the self is exaggerated, placed at the center and allowed to rule supreme. Self-development and the satisfying of the noisy self takes center stage, determining the course and demanding that its needs be met.
Clearly, this approach is unbiblical; however, self-annhiliation, the common over correction to self-aggrandizement is equally unbiblical. In this form of self stewarding, the self is denied and strangled rather than coddled. Self is seen as the enemy and the baby is thrown out with the bath water.
I can speak much on this end of the spectrum because I gravitate this way. As a mother, I have grown even more comfortable with starving the healthy self that the Lord placed within me. But the sanctified self in me is stubborn and keeps finagling its way into my thoughts. I do have desires and talents and interests; I just don’t know how to handle them in a way that most honors God.
If one extreme exaggerates the self, the opposite extreme effaces the self. Both stretch the self out of proportion into caricatures. Both are attempts at controlling the self.
Christianity offers us a third way of stewarding self, calling us neither to self-aggrandizement nor self-annihilation, but to to self-entrusting. Rather than seeking to control our selves by shrinking or swelling, we are invited to let our selves be controlled by the love of Christ.
This third way is no rulebook and requires personal relationship with the Lord Himself. This third way of entrusting the self to a faithful Creator who controls and compels requires trust. And trusting is much harder than shrinking or swelling. While the third day doesn’t answer the practical questions of how to spend my time, what to pursue and when to pursue it, it gives me a scaffolding out of which to make those decisions.
He has wired me as He has for great purpose. I am called to entrust my self, again and again, to His purposes and plans. He gently bids me to present my desires, my talents, my dreams with trembling hands into His loving, sacrifice-scarred hands.
May we be women who steward our selves in a way that honors Christ by choosing the tension of the third way.