(An Excerpt From Dr. Parrott’s book, My Soul Purpose)
Authenticity is the measure of soul success. There are no compromises or half-hearted measures. The soul calls you to be the author of an authentic life, your life in God. Confront the truth about yourself, and embrace the challenge to be your best. Live true to your best in Christ.
The quest to be authentic – your true and best – is not an ironed-jawed determination to “be my real self” as if there is some static and fully formed person inside you yearning to be free.[i] Something is wrong with this concept. What is “real” and true about you is what you
These dynamics of the inner life change constantly. There is no fixed, “real self” inside you. You are a human being, which means you are always becoming your true and best self or you are becoming a false and deformed self. You are not a finished product; you are an ongoing process. There is a workshop inside you, a place where the fragments of your life arrive, meaning is attached, and your growing, evolving self emerges. This workshop is the domicile of your soul.
Life comes to us in pieces, like a jigsaw puzzle tumbling out of the box or multicolored threads yet to woven into a tapestry. You and your soul negotiate each fragment’s meaning. This is your life experience. The result, for better or worse, defines you. Your perceptions, emotions, and motivations are shaped, reshaped, accepted, or rejected. As the years roll on, you have more experiences in life, encounter new depths of love, suffer more, pray more, and search for sense, meaning, and significance in all of it. You are relentlessly changing.
When is a rose true to its best? Is it not living true to its best when it is contained in the seed? Is it not also true to its best when hiding in the soil and when breaking free as a small sprout? Is it not true to its best when it is a bud, then a bloom, and finally a withered flower preparing to return to the soil? There its chemicals and nutrients will strengthen the next seed, the rose for tomorrow. It is true to its best at every stage.
You cannot ask the rose to be in bloom all the time. Such a thing is not a living rose but a manufactured facsimile. It is a fake. It has no life. It does not have the “soul,” the life essence, of a rose. Life is always in a process of transformation. At each season, the Soul of all life desires what is true to its best for that moment.
You have a soul. Indeed, you are a soul. Your soul’s purpose is heaven’s purpose: to bring your true and best in Christ to life in every season of life. Your soul is pleased when you are intent on living true to your real self, yet this does not satisfy the soul. It is good but not good enough. The soul presses on toward your best self. God smiles when you long for and learn to live true to your best in Christ. This is full life in the power and Spirit of God.
[i] “. . . as if there is some static and fully formed person inside you.” This thought builds on the work of John Powell in his book Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am (1969). He writes, “There is no fixed, true and real person inside of you or me, precisely because being a person necessarily implies becoming a person, being in process.” In an era of deep unrest, Father Powell’s simple and clear writing on the inner life and the quest for authenticity received a wide reading. He is reported to be the second most widely read Christian author in history.
Copyright 2011 © Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.