Why are we obsessed with self? Why must we define ourselves? Do we not know who we are?
Personality. The introvert, the extrovert, the sensitive, the high-reactive, the low-reactive, dopamine levels, the amygdala, the frontal cortex keeping the “old brain” (amygdala) in check.
Are we only minds with bodies reacting and being slugged around–attached to mind? An inconvenient body in the life of mind?
The body a servant to mind? Only when the amygdala is stimulated does the body, as pleasure mechanism, allowed to take over? But this still to say the amygdala is the master, the body servant.
When St. Paul speaks of the head and the body–he is speaking of a unity. Not one mastering the other. There is also talk of the renewing of the mind in scripture.
Back to the mind and body disunity: Is following Christ only a disciplining of the frontal cortex? To be obedient to someone, a deity outside ourselves?
The self seeks to define itself. We use personality language. These explanations and definitions help explain why we do what we do. But is this truly who we are? “I am who I am. I cannot change.”
No matter what you think about personality defining you or not. It is an act of submission. Will we submit to other selves explaining who we are or who the One who created us say we are? Is it a mixture of both?
The human, finite being is not entirely ignorant. But compared to God, we are but dust. We have pieces, not the entire.
Be yourself, we say.
But do we truly know who we are?
Some tend to wish they were like someone else, someone with more social aplomb, someone who is successful, etc. We envy.
Others see the goal ahead of them and aim for that no matter who gets hurt along the way, as long as that self is satisfied.
The reality is we know partially who we are in our own selves and by cognitive science. Who we are with helps shape us as well. (This is nature and nurture). But there is also a point of not knowing, the apophatic sense.
In truth, we cannot know entirely who God is, the finite incapable of knowing the infinite. Yet, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who walked upon this earth affecting lives then as now. The incarnation is the unity of the human and the divine. In another way, it is the unity of the body and the mind, reuniting the whole person, the soul.
The world is divisive. We live among divisions. The hope is that Christ transforms, unites, brings all things to wholeness. Giving true personality. The self is unsure of itself because we are divided. By the grace of God, some days are better than others in wholeness and ever moving toward wholeness. As we submit our whole selves to God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) we know more of who we are.
After all this talk, this is a call to serious Christ followers to strive forward in the Christian life. Because as we bend the knee, pray, ask for God’s help, ask for his grace, worship, receive Christ himself in Word and sacrament, we are refined and made whole. We become more like Christ who is the perfected personality. (This is a lifetime of faith and work).