Q & A: Week Two – Fear of Abandonment

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This week, we’re moving out beyond the first set of breakers in this adventure we’re taking, out into the deep waters of our faith. I’m grateful for your companionship along the way, and look forward to your response to this week’s question: “What’s with this ‘more of Jesus, less of me’ stuff?”

The story I tell this week is a deeply personal one, and very likely not many (if any) of you will be familiar with some of the emotional and psychological backwater I’ve had to push my way through, by the grace of God, to learn a different way of understanding that phrase. But I think what I’ve learned is important for all of us, at the very least because this story might help us all to be more careful and thoughtful with our choice of words, especially when we’re teaching those who are young — in age, or in the faith. I look forward to your responses.

Next week’s question set, for Friday, January 31: What’s with all this talk about ‘sin?’
DSC00670When I was a little girl, faithfully attending Sunday school each week, we had a little saying that went like this: “Jesus, Others and You – that’s how you spell JOY.”

And I inhaled that sentiment like it was the sweetest of perfumes. YES! We should always be last on the list, giving ourselves away to Jesus and to other people. That’s how you live like Jesus, right? That’s how you are a good girl, a truly good girl.

As I got older, that simple phrase became a little more complicated, and the scent of it a little more cloying. This time, it went something like this: “He must increase, I must decrease,” lifting the words directly out of the mouth of John the Baptist near the end of chapter 3 in John’s gospel.

From there, it morphed into, “More of Jesus, less of me,” and the older I got, the more terrified I became when I heard those words.

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I didn’t recognize it as terror initially. In fact, I didn’t know how deeply this message had affected me until I began to be interested in spiritual direction. I first learned about direction by reading a series of novels, of all things. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, British author Susan Howatch wrote a great bunch of stories about priests in the Anglican church and I devoured those books when I was in my 40’s. They were earthy, to be sure, but they were also rich and filled with beautiful tidbits of theology and ecclesiology. Throughout the entire series, some of my favorite characters were spiritual directors.

So I began to read some rich and informative non-fiction books about direction, and to ask likeminded friends about it. One of those friends was a woman of spiritual depth and breadth with whom I co-taught several Sunday school classes for adults. She was also a psychologist and a spiritual director. In the mid-1990’s, I met with her to explore whether or not we might enter into a director/directee relationship. At our first session, she handed me a copy of Foucald’s “Prayer of Abandonment” and told me to take it home and reflect on it. Here is that prayer:

Father,
I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord. 

Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father. 
     — Charles de Foucald

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Filled with love, joyful submission, and trust.

But I could not pray that prayer.

I tried, but I’d get to the word ‘abandon,’ and start gulping great gasps of air. I prayed about it, I talked it over with the woman who had given it to me, and her immediate response to me was this: “Diana, you need therapy. Not direction.” (Did I mention I was in seminary at the time and beginning to hear God’s call to professional ministry? What??? Pastors might need therapy? Well, that’s a great big YES.)

DSC00793I have spent the last twenty years trying to unpack what happened inside me as I read that prayer and, in the process, I have taken a long look at that old Sunday school saying and the use (or mis-use) of that verse from John 3. And I’ve done a TON of personal work on all kinds of important things. . . all because I gagged on the word, “abandon.”

We all have a fear of abandonment. Along with the fear of falling, it’s one of the most primal fears human persons carry. But what I was feeling was not quite that, was it? This is what I finally realized: I was terrified of disappearing. I had somehow inhaled some really lousy theology along with that early Sunday school ditty; I had taken the words of John the Baptist completely out of context* and come to believe that the way to the heart of the gospel was for me to somehow be sublimated to the point of extinction, for Jesus alone to inhabit this flesh.

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There are all kinds of interesting reasons why this particular woman came up with these particular fears and most of them, I understand a whole lot better now than I did then. But what I want to talk about here is the sometimes dangerous way we throw words around when we teach and when we preach.

Because this is the beautiful truth of the gospel, the powerful, life-changing, miraculous truth:

As we learn more about the heart of Jesus, as we open ourselves to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, this happens:

“More of Jesus, MORE of me.”

Yes, you read that right. Think about it for a minute or two: why would God go to all the trouble of creating the wildly different and wholly beautiful human race if the goal was for each one of us to disappear, to lose our distinctiveness, to be pushed into the waters of oblivion that some have chosen to call “Jesus?” 

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Is that wave supposed to cover us completely?

In some ways, YES, YES, YES. We are covered by the grace of God made tangible in the blood of Jesus. We are; yes, we are.

BUT also, NO. We are not lost when we are covered by the grace of God. We are not ever lost. No.

WE ARE FOUND. 

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The true me, the real me, the best me, the apple-of-God’s-eye me, the very particular, very unique, highly individual me is given space. Room to breathe and grow and flourish. The heart of the mystery, the wonder is this: the more we allow Jesus to fill us with love, to inhabit us, the more ‘me’ we discover. The me that God had in mind when he created the world, the me that reflects the image of God, the me that Jesus sees when he moves in for good.

And I do mean for good. 

Because Jesus is the one who calls forth from us health, wholeness, obedience — in the best sense of that word — and life. And in the growing and refining process that we use such big, ole theological words to describe (like sanctification, even justification. . . ohh, they make me shudder a little!) what emerges, over time, through all the good stuff that happens and all the hard stuff that happens — what emerges is the truest ‘me’ possible this side of heaven.

There is another entire blog post (or maybe a chapter??) to be written about all the possible pieces of this truth. Things like good self-care, healthy boundaries, learning what it means to love ourselves so that we can more fully and healthily love others. But for today, I want to give witness to the truth that the beautiful prayer listed above, the one that started me down the road of serious self-reflection and earnest biblical study, is now one of my favorites.

Because today I know that God has no desire to devour me, to make me some kind of freakish ‘walking dead’ person. No. Jesus came to this earth to show us what a truly human life looks like. And he wants us to discover what OUR truly human life looks like.

It’s true, we will look a lot like Jesus.

But we will also look like ourselves. 

 

*John is replying to questions from his followers who have become jealous of all the attention Jesus is getting. John recognizes that his own work is done, that Jesus is now at center stage. In that context only, he says, “He must increase and I must decrease.” Like so many other catch phrases grasped from scripture, this one cannot be directly applied to each of us, at least not in the way in which it too often has been. When we come to Jesus and ask him to live in us, we are joined to this Elder Brother of ours as partners — not equal partners, but partners nonetheless. This is the way God designed it — God works through the likes of us. Amazing. It is my heartfelt prayer that I will more and more closely resemble this Brother of mine. But it is also my prayer that I will more fully inhabit myself, the one Jesus came for. The one Jesus died for. The one Jesus prays for at the right hand of the Father.

As always, I invite your comments here. If you have a blog, and feel inspired/moved/challenged to write a response to this post or to the question itself, please do link it here. So here’s the linky – and be sure to grab one of my buttons from the sidebar for your own blog post. Thank you!

Next week’s question, for Friday, January 31: What’s with all this talk about ‘sin?’

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Comments

  1. Diana, you write with such open transparency that it gives us all permission to breathe, relax, nod our heads in affirmation, and see the glory in the gritty reality of a lived out faith. Here, this fear you describe? It was quite the opposite for me. I feared staying where I was ~ not enough, feeling unloved, insecure, inadequate ~ more than I feared the leap of faith into the arms of the Lover of my soul.
    Yet that first love’s flame has flickered and nearly died at times when life’s pressures surrounded and tried to choke the life out of it. Now? My heart wants to surrender all. There’s no joy in holding back when God is the only One who can heal my brokenness. And I agree, we only become fully human and fully alive as God intends us to be when we are surrendered to Him. Thank you for sharing and caring about the journey each one of us makes. Bless you 🙂 x

    • Thank you so much for these lovely words, Joy. I especially love your closing sentences – “There’s no joy in holding back when God is the only One who can heal my brokenness. . . we only become fully human and fully alive as God intends us to be when we are surrendered to Him.” So rich – thank you.

  2. ro elliott says:

    “I was terrified of disappearing”….for me…I was terrified I won’t…I came to the Lord loaded with self hatred…so when I came to Him…I was ready for Him to make me new…make me like my would be sister-in-law some others I had picked out…soft spoken…sweet smile…etc…I spent a lot of time very disappointed in God’s ability to remake me…but as time…years went by…His love started to win me over…He never tired of wooing me…and through His amazing grace and love…I know I am who I am…because He created me…He created others…to be a reflection of who He is…If we were all the same…how boring God would be…but He has so many facets of who He is…of His love…it takes the whole universe…both people and creation to reflect the depths of it all.
    and for me…true abandonment has been and I think will be a process…to the depth I know His love…is the depth of which I abandon myself…and since His love has no limits…just maybe my abandonment won’t either.
    thanks so much for sharing your story and hostessing…and I must say…even though I love the youth that surrounds us in this community…I am glad you have stepped out…someone who …how shall I say this…a bit more seasoned 🙂 blessings and happy first day of a new year!!!

    • I hear you, Ro.
      I so wanted to be brand new, with none of the old me left
      Bit by bit He showed me there were good parts He could redeem.
      I still pray, “take what You can use, throw away the rest”

      • AMEN – there are many good things that God sees and redeems in each of us. The goal is never annihilation, but transformation. And that’s a very good thing.

    • Ah, yes. That is a completely different experience from mine – thanks for putting such good words to it, Ro. And I’m so grateful to read that the self-hatred has give way to a fuller acceptance of who you are as God’s special design and much-loved person. And yes, ‘seasoned’ is a kind way to say ‘old.’ I am old(er) and at this end of my life, I’m glad to be. (Except for the aching joints – those I could do without!)

  3. More of Him means more of me as well.
    This is completely true and a very DEEP truth that, I think, is hard to digest in a culture where we want everything instantly. We want a bumper sticker faith. You have parsed this out so well, Diana. This type of teaching can only be done by one for whom the truth is hard-won. I don’t think it can be taught by one who only knows it academically. The crippling cumulative effect of early teaching has turned out to be part of your equipping. You may very well see and know all this, but I say it to you directly, in case you needed it to be said to you. Oh, heavens, I may be lecturing at you now. Didn’t mean to do that. 🙂

  4. This is such an important concept to explain, Diana, and complicated. You handled it beautifully. I’m so thankful for your encouragement, wisdom, chilled-out-edness. God is speaking through you; thank you for being a willing communicator of His truth and goodness.

    • You’re very welcome, Brandee. Thank YOU for these kind words and encouragement of this interesting project I’ve embarked on here. It’s a little scary, but I’m loving the responses!!

  5. I was looking for an example to illustrate the ministry problem I want to address. Diana, you have given it to me so beautifully. Thank you. Clearly you are giving “words” to my angst of how following Christ has been taught, preached, and written about. Losing oneself for Christ’s sake and the Gospel – entering the “dark night of the soul” does not answer the question, “Why am I here?” “What does it mean to be made in the image of God?” Uniquely? Pondering what it may mean to have found you blog. We don’t “surf” alone.

    Beginning a 100 hr. effort in drafting a Doctor of Ministry thesis proposal on the topic: “Coaching the pastoral leadership at Life On the Vine Church, Long Grove, IL., to celebrate their divinely formed selves.” Plan to graduate with my D-Min. a week before I turn 70 (June 2015).

    • Nice to meet you, Galen! I’m assuming you’re related to Carol, who visits here often. Is that right? KUDOS to you for completing a DMin at our advanced age! I’ll be 70 in January of 2015. I’m so glad you found this helpful and I’m especially grateful that you pulled from it one of the primary things I wanted to say – be careful what you say to children and youth. When we’re young — depending upon how we’re emotionally wired — we can take things in way too literally. That was a concern of mine in writing this particular piece and you got it. Blessings on your work – what a great topic! “celebrate our divinely formed selves” – EXACTLY.

      • Yes, this is my man! I knew the minute i read your post I know he must read it. I said “oh, you are going to love this. right up/down your alley.”

        several years ago in our former church, I saw the J-O-Y being taught to the children and I cringed. wish now I would have said something, but i was just starting to learn myself. Now I would say something.

        My favorite sentences but loving all of it:
        “The true me. . . given space. . . .
        “the more we allow Jesus to fill us with love, to inhabit us, the more ‘me’ we discover.”

        just had to jump in quickly. My dear one is giving me the weekend (my birthday is monday , happy birthday to you too.) with very dear friends who have walked a long road with me. I am taking the train early in the morning to St., Louis. I was gone for a few day last week with my brother’s family in Montana and that was so good for me. Also, I believe I am beginning to experience some healing in the therapy group of which i am a part. Maybe i’ll send an email update when i get back …thank you for your ministry here. blessings
        PS Galen has been hearing me talk about you and your posts for the last several months and now he has signed up for your blog too!

        • So glad you’re getting these lovely breaks, Carol. And delighted to meet your husband. I’d love to hear from you when you get back. Thanks for inviting Galen into this good conversation we’re having!

  6. This is profound Diana. For me, growing up in the church, I saw this abandoning as meaning the Lord would surely make me do something – the one thing – I least wanted to do. Something like tromping through the jungles to bring the gospel to people who might possibly want to kill me. Of course there is nothing wrong with such a call. It was my confused way of seeing more of Jesus and less of me.
    I have come to understand it as you so beautifully describe it. My prayer has been that I will become the me he created me to be. Without doubt, that will mean I will be more like Him. But it will also mean that in the process I become all He planned I would be.
    I so appreciate your wisdom and the special gifts you have (those gifts He so graciously placed in you) to encourage and teach others. Thank you so much.

    • Yes, that was a piece of this kind of teaching, too, wasn’t it? We were told, both explicitly and implicitly, that God would ask us to do the very thing we least wanted to do. And I think – maybe – for some people that may have happened. But probably not quite in the way it was then described to others, especially to children. Because I don’t believe God forces us into any kind of pre-formed mold. . . except to help us look more like Jesus. And our own deep-down desires and dreams are not ignored, but transformed and used by the God who knows us and loves us. I share your prayer – that “I will become the me he created me to be. . . ” Thanks so much for joining the conversation today, my friend.

    • I was taught this too – that God’s will was whichever option you liked the least! Not only that, I saw adults forced into jobs because they hated them… which apparently was a clear indication that it was God’s will for them! Crazy…

      • Yes, this was part of it, too. That is not to say that everyone, everywhere is going to just LOVE their jobs. Sometimes we need to put bread on the table, even if the work is less than ideal. But to teach that God wants us to have the least attractive option? Not so great. I am most definitely NOT a prosperity gospel person. But I do believe that somewhere in our lives, God will give us something that brings us joy.

  7. Diana, First off, thank you for delving so deep into these puzzling waters and taking the time to ask the hard questions. And to give such life-giving responses as you see them.
    I struggled with this idea of ‘more of Jesus, less of me’ for some time, trying in my own might to get rid of sin in me–my proud responses, selfish words, me-centered ness–habits that still plague me and which I run to Jesus about early and often.
    The release for me in this ‘struggle with sin’ came when I was at a Bible Study five years ago with a friend who pastors in New Orleans. Somebody began to pray for me, words that only God understood and splat–I was on the floor in a puddle laughing. Well that’s pretty radical………I’d heard about that happening but had never experienced it before. I spent some time there on the carpet and remember feeling like I was being washed, that water was running through every part of me, cleaning out the dross.
    It’s an odd way to explain it but it changed my perspective on the way we grow in our walk with God–there is NOTHING we can drum up in our flesh to make ourselves better or different or ‘more like Jesus’–it is only as we LET Him come in that all the ‘bad stuff’ (sin) gets pushed out and washed away. So the real work comes in the letting go, the abandonment to Him as we discover for ourselves who the real ‘us’ is inside.
    Just like you said……..only different 🙂

    • Jody –
      I agree that we can’t do the real work ourselves
      we can only allow Him to do what He will do
      yes, the letting go, giving up, surrendering

    • I love the way you’ve put this, Jody! And thanks for sharing that piece of your journey with us here. I’ve never had anything like that in my own life, but I know others who have. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with the charismatic Catholics and have had friends with a special prayer language in all phases of my own story. You’ve hit on something important here – that ‘clean’ feeling. And that is only and always a gift from God alone. THAT’s what God does come in and obliterate – our sin, not ourselves. Terrific contribution today – thanks so much.

  8. Oh Diana
    what a prayer
    surrender to His hand
    surrender to His love
    all and everything
    not to be less, but more

  9. I was deeply troubled that you felt that you had to disappear in order that Jesus would be evident in your life. We are to be transformed into His image as we submit and yes, surrender to Him and let the life of Jesus be evident to those around us. It is a mystery that the very God of the universe would allow His Son to become a man and experience all that human beings undergo in life. He was God yet a person without sin and thus qualified to be the perfect sacrifice, acceptable to God. When we accept Jesus into our lives, we are on a journey that leads us to make choices to either obey God’s voice or to let our natural mind take us on a pleasure filled trip. God wants us to be God-men who hunger and thirst for righteousness and to seek His Kingdom above all else. Through our human spirit we are able to be in tune with our Lord and can find sweet fellowship with Him. It is a dying to self that will result in an eternal perspective where Christ reigns in all we do and say. So, yes, we have our distinctive personality traits but they will be molded into the image of Christ as we pursue Him in our spirit, not destroyed but transformed. Hope you feel this process is a journey that will lead you to fulfillment and peace.

    • Kathy – what I was writing about here was a very deep-seated fear that came from an early misunderstanding (and some pretty bad teaching) about how God works in us to bring change. Please don’t be troubled! I am not in that place any longer – and it was critically important that I make this discovery and work my way, with God’s gracious help, to a new understanding of what it means to be surrendered to God. And I don’t think I agree with some of what you’re saying here – maybe it’s just word choice, I’m not sure. But I don’t think that we are asked to choose between God or pleasure. Doing the work and will of God, centered in who God is and who we are becoming, has brought the deepest pleasure I’ve ever known. And yes, there is a dying to self in this journey – a dying to sin in us. But NOT a dying to who we truly are. Rather a discovery of who we are and a daily offering of that self for further and further transformation as we walk out this journey of life. Thanks for reading and commenting today.

  10. Diana – What a wonderful, reflective, and instructive post. I come from a tradition that uses the phrase “hidden in Christ” to describe some of this erroneous teaching you describe. I was told that when God looks at me, he doesn’t see me, only Jesus. In some ways, the exchange of my sin for His righteousness makes that true in a legal sense. God sees Jesus’ sacrifice in place of my sin. But he also sees ME! And is working to make me into the fullness of what He created me to be. Christ’s sacrifice makes that possible.

    Thank you for putting the fine point to this message. It’s easy to get swept up in words that lead us down the wrong path.

    • YES, Charity. YES, YES. Thank you for adding this so-important piece to this conversation. God sees Jesus in us, yes. But he also sees US. Thank you very much for putting this so well: “[God is] working to make me into the fullness of what He created me to be. Christ’s sacrifice makes that possible.” Perfect.

  11. Diana,
    In a piece I wrote on Ten Spiritual Practices for the Aging Journey,” I have “practice being yourself” as the last one. And when I was presenting them this week in a workshop, I pointed out than many older adults did not hear this message as young people and young Christians. I also noted that women particularly were prone to think that thinking of themselves in any sense was wrong. Your beautiful essay here really illustrates that, but also illustrates how perspectives can change if we are open to listening to the Spirit along the way. (And I too read all the Howatch books in my 40s and loved them!) Blessings on you my friend. You are doing some amazing work here!

    • Thank you so much, Nancy, for reading and for leaving such kind words. LOVED those books – especially the older set. The newer ones didn’t work as well for me. And I think your essay’s last point is particularly pertinent to many of the women who grew up before we did. It surely trickled down to me (and I’m guessing to you, too) and it shows up now and again. In fact, this entire series is based on my responses to what I have been reading on the web these last three years. There is still a tendency to use language that speaks of obliteration, to having no self – and man, I think that’s not only wrong but dangerous. I’m learning a lot from good Anglican and Catholic theology about all of this, and, of course, the reading about and the work of spiritual direction itself is a major player in the work that happened in me. The Spirit is good and gracious and — thankfully — continues to do transforming work in us as long as we breathe.

    • Please link to your essay?

  12. Diana,
    I read your post with great interest. Thank you for sharing this very personal and difficult part of your life. I wonder why our experiences were so different. I was two years older and our church was going through some changes when we were young. Girls and boys have different experiences, and perhaps were taught differently. Actually I don’t remember much teaching going on in my Sunday School classes, just a lot of acting out by some of the boys. Maybe it was our families. But out of our church ; my church experience, I learned that Jesus was within me and that gave me strength beyond that of most people around me – strength to live a very full and independent life. But I thank you for sharing your story, and for posing the questions that let others of us tell our stories.
    Newell

    • Newell – I did not come to GPC until I was 12 years old, nearly 13. So I began my experience with that church in the Junior High department. Before that time, we attended a fundamentalist Methodist church in downtown L.A. It was a great place in many ways, but the teachings I reference in this piece came from there, way back in the 4-5 year old class, I think. This is something that I began to internalize very young, and whether I misinterpreted or they mis-taught or some combo of the two, I’m not sure. I also think this came from my too-close relationship to my mom, who wanted to know everything I was doing and thinking. I loved her so much and I was so young that I didn’t learn until much later to put some guards around how far she could invade into my personal space. I think I probably had some unidentified fears about all of that and somehow it got twisted around in my little heart to make me fearful of being consumed – even though I loved Jesus with as much of my heart as I knew at that time. We all have some pieces like this in our journey, things that need the grace of God and the work of the Spirit (and sometimes the help of a trained professional!) to sort out. This just happens to be one of the biggest pieces of my own learning curve.

      • Again, Diana, thank you so much for sharing. We really can learn from each other. I think I at times was too close to my daughter, and am still learning about making room for personal space of others. I hope you have forgiven you mother for her part in this process of losing yourself.
        Newell

        • Oh, there was nothing to forgive, Newell. She was learning to be a mom, I was learning to be a daughter, then a woman, wife and mom myself. We all blow it from time to time. I adored my mom and still do. I’m just more able now to see all of who she is, including flaws and injuries and her own history that contributed to her need to . . . how shall I say this? Form me into her own image a little more than she ought. I learned to be myself and she learned to let me be myself and even to celebrate the ways in which we’re different. Much of this kind of stuff has to do with how we’re wired, you know? My mom hadn’t a clue that I was taking all this in in the ways that I was. Learning the enneagram has helped me with all of it, actually. As I tried to say in this piece, learning who we are, how we’re designed is key to so much.

  13. Gwen Acres says:

    Thank you Diana for once again sharing spiritual health. I can’t tell you enough what that means to me.

    Innocent and open hearts of children are so easily influenced, especially the sensitive ones. I too remember the JOY teaching from the pulpit of the Baptist church I was raised in. A little older it was the task of “picking up my cross and following Jesus”. Sharing His pain, how could I do it? Then the hymn “I Surrender All” saw me walk down the aisle to commit to go anywhere for Jesus. Later, it was trying to understand why my goodness was “filthy rags” and only what was done in the Spirit had merit. And just how to know when I was “in the Spirit”. Then there was being the empty vessel to be filled by God. Somehow all these images held fear for me. Even being told that God had a plan for my life was scary. How to find His plan? What if you missed it? Then what?

    Finding grace, peace and freedom given by a God who loves me unconditionally and passionately has taken many years. Now to enjoy companions who share their journey is so comforting! Thank you Diana for the facilitating. It’s all a breath of fresh air.

    • Yes, I remember all of that language when I was growing up, too. And some of it is taken directly from scripture and needs to be wrestled with and understood — as an adult. I also remember, ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” and a lot of ‘poor worm’ anthropology in various places, too. It is important to remember that we are sinful creatures, but it is also important to know that we are first of all loved creatures. We’ll be talking about that more next week. I’m grateful that you’re moving away from a fear-based relationship with God (fear in the sense of terror, not fear in the sense of awe, which I think is essential, actually). I hope you continue to find this conversation helpful as we keep tossing around these questions.

  14. As I sat reading this thoughtful post, I remembered my own grandmother singing this Sunday School song to a group of children (including me!) But I am so thankful that the unconditional love of my parents (and grandparents), their lifestyle of living out their faith in a very real and wonderful way – all added up to me having a security in the Father’s love for me.

    Fast forward to later years when a particularly damaging season in church life had left me feeling “much less than” and very weary. After uprooting to a smaller fellowship, I remember standing in a sweet worship time and we began to sing a new song (new to me at least) titled “Your Beloved”. The words washed over me, they were life-giving. It was for me a transforming moment; healing had begun.

    In the years since I have endeavored to listen to the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and the words of life in scripture, and pay less attention to the message of people who speak of comparison or measuring up.

    More of Him and More of Me is a wonderful message and would make a great needlepoint pillow, if I did needlepoint! Ha! Thanks, Diana, for sharing more of your story and for generating the above discussion.

    • Gwen Acres says:

      More of Him and More of me, that’s it! Thank you Susan.

    • Music is such a powerful means of assimilating ideas, isn’t it? Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of Christian music is powerful, good and true. There are clinkers here and there, but I am grateful for the gift of music all the time. And I agree – comparison is just deadly! Thanks for your contribution to the conversation, Susan. Glad you’re here.

  15. Diana, thank you! What a comforting post. (On an unrelated note, I’m marveling at the warm beach pictures. After a week of single digit to subzero windchills, they seem like something from another world!)

    • Yes, we’ve had some phenomenal surfing weather in the past two weeks. Today (Sunday) we’re finally seeing just a tiny bit of rain and lots of clouds. We need rain so badly! So you can feel jealous now, but come summer? Not so much. I have a hunch we’ll be swirling with wildfires. :>( Thanks for you excellent link again this week, Elena. You’re doing some important work and I’m so grateful you’ve tagged along here to do part of that.

  16. Gwen Acres says:

    Just re read your Blogg Diana. How energizing it is. It is OK to be who we are. We are supposed to be because we are made by His hand.

    • I like Brennan Manning’s quote here – “God loves you just the way you are; and he loves you too much to let you stay there.” It’s a good balance to maintain, I think. We are wholly loved as we are AND we are being transformed day by day.

      • Gwen Acres says:

        This is where your next Blogg will take us. The sin part. Adam and Eve hid after they sinned. We are forgiven but still sin. I look forward to this discussion.

  17. Oh Diana, I knew I liked you for a reason! This post had me smiling and yelling ‘YES!’ at the computer. 🙂 I’ve gone through very similar struggles with those same phrases – in fact last year I was supposed to be teaching our kids at church about the JOY thing, and I refused to do it. Nobody could quite understand my problem with it, and even when I explained, they still put it down to my experience with ‘people taking it too far’, rather than something wrong with the actual topic. Ho hum…
    I think, if I was going to have a word for this year, it would be ‘light’. I’m intrigued by light in photography, the way things look when light shines through them, and I’ve just started a study on ‘light’ in the bible, which I have a feeling is going to lead into all sorts of interesting directions.
    I’ve been thinking about the phrase ‘More of Jesus, less of me’ since you set this week’s questions, and the way so many people I know, particularly women, seem to use this as a command to invisibility, and how uncomfortable and wrong this feels to me. I’ve also been thinking about light and transparency, and somehow the two things came together. When I try to get a photo of something – redcurrants or waves – that has light shining through it, I’m not trying to get a photo of the light itself. I’m trying to get a photo of how the light is making that particular thing look. The light is revealing something about the redcurrant or wave that I don’t usually see, something that is beautiful and/or unique.
    Now apply this analogy to us. The light is Jesus in us. He shines through us, and as He does, the light somehow illuminates all our unique and very different qualities. Some of these qualities we are born with, and some are created as we walk through our lives, but it is the light of Jesus that shows them off. Given that God loves differences, I just can’t imagine Him wanting to look at a whole roomful of stained-glass windows (if that’s how we see ourselves… or jewels, or lanterns, or waves, or redcurrants, or whatever picture works for you!) that look exactly the same!
    Hope this all makes sense…
    I love the concept of ‘More of Jesus, more of me.’ It makes sense with what I’ve been learning… and it’s so good to hear someone else say it, in a way that ties it all together.

    • Gwen Acres says:

      Wow, I love this! Beautiful imagery.

      God made billions of is. He must like diversity. Being covered by the blood of Jesus so God could look on us was another “picture” that troubled me. It made me feel opaque. Your imagery of light shining through paints a life giving synergism.

      • LOVE the word synergism, here, Gwen. Because we are invited to work WITH God on our own transformation. It is not an alien invasion but a relationship that helps us to find ourselves AND find God. Great word. Thanks so much.

        • Gwen Acres says:

          Love that , “not an alien invasion.” I feel a little giddy with all these spiritually life saving images. Like drinking just a little bit too much good wine!

    • Donna, I love the way you depict light and transparency. I’d never considered it from a photographic perpective before. But looked at in this way, we retain all that is unique about ourselves whilst making room for the Divine to illuminate the whole. A perfect “life giving synergism” as Gwen delightfully describes it. We have all been given such diverse gifts and abilities and it is “the light of Jesus that shows them off”. A lovely thought! Thank you 🙂

    • Donna – this is just a superb image!!! Thank you, thank you. I’m so glad your riding along with us in the comments – you always add an important, fresh perspective. I love that picture of hunting for the light – to see things as the light shines through them. Just perfect, dear girl. Thanks so very much.

  18. Diana
    Unending snow days/no school days. A six year old with the flu. These realities have meant more time with kids! And less time writing. While I didn’t get a post written, I wanted to share here what first came to mind when I saw the question.
    “As Jesus’ disciple, I am his apprentice in kingdom living. I am learning from him how to lead my life in the Kingdom of the Heavens as he would lead my life if he were I.” Dallas Willard

    I first heard this quote a few years ago and something about it felt significant to me. It seems subtle, but there was something different about thinking how would Jesus live my life. It was a move away from an image I believe I held of us all becoming Jesus robots. Not the goal of me and you and everyone becoming Jesus. But me becoming more me. The redeemed me. The fully me that I was created to be. With my personality, gifts, experiences, quirks….fully being me- yoked with Jesus and the wisdom that he would bring into my life.
    Don’t know if I’m doing it justice, but that is what I think of. More of Jesus can also be more of me.
    Love the conversation- again!

    • So glad to hear from you, Melanie! Been missing your voice this week. And I love the Willard quote and your reflections on it – really helpful and exactly what I was trying to say. “Jesus-robots” pretty much sums up what can be fearful and misleading about that quote on the table this week. Thanks so much.

  19. Diana,
    Thank you for sharing honestly about your journey…I am glad you were able to unpack what triggered your response to the word “abandon”….my journey the past several years has taught me the truth of what you write in your post: more of Jesus and more of the real me…such freedom 🙂

  20. I have to say, the title, “fear of abandonment” caught my attention. I, too, grew up hearing I needed to “deny myself” and “decrease” so Jesus would be seen in my life. Growing up in an unhappy home, my role was to please and make everyone else happy and safe, but I couldn’t do it. Underneath my smile and facade was a deep self-hate and desire to all-together disappear. I hated that my life was always so out of control and I couldn’t fix all the pain around me so I numbed and hid behind the ‘good girl’, ‘positive’ image. When Jesus put people in my life that shared the Good News of what Jesus did for me – that He would actually accept me as I am, all my fears surfaced and I was so afraid to be seen and heard because I believed I would be found out as a pretender and abandoned. Honestly, it’s still so hard for me to believe that God could love and accept the likes of me, but He shows me it’s true. And He actually likes me, and made me unique on purpose to be myself – made in the image of God in my own unique way. It’s so freeing to be able to just be ME – as is, and know that God is pleased with me. I don’t have to earn it, and He won’t abandon me.

    • Well, amen, and hallelujah! Thanks so much for this rich comment, Paula. I am grateful that we’re all learning more about grace as we walk through this series.

  21. Coming by a second time. I’ve been chewing on your words for a few days. It just strikes me how we can distort these kind of teachings when we don’t consider them in context of the entire Gospel. I love the open ways you share, Diana. You speak so much of what is in my heart. Love to you, friend.

    • Thank you, Laura. It means a great deal to me to read these words from you. And you can come back as many times as you like! There’s a new one up to – open for comments and links until tomorrow afternoon. :>)

Trackbacks

  1. […] at different understandings of obedience and this week she has suggested we ponder the phrase ‘More of Jesus, less of me’. My partner of nearly three decades laughs when I occasionally refer to myself as a cultural […]

  2. […] I’ve recently come across Diana Trautwein’s Facebook page where she has just started linking up a series of posts on different issues. The first one was looking at different understandings of obedience and this week she has suggested we ponder the phrase ‘More of Jesus, less of me’. […]

  3. […] isn’t this the logical outcome of phrases like ‘more of Jesus, less of me’?  If Jesus is this intangible ‘feeling’, a presence in only certain places, and me is…..me […]

  4. […] “What’s with this ‘more of Jesus, less of me’ stuff?” […]

  5. […] Why is there so much talk about obedience?                      (January 17) 2. What’s with this ‘more of Jesus, less of me’ stuff?              (Januar… 3. What’s with all this talk about ‘sin?’                           […]

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