Trying To Find Yourself

We experience ourselves our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.” 
~Albert Einstein

We spend a lifetime trying to find ourselves. This quest for Maslow’s self-actualization takes us through a tortuous journey of trite little traps like money, power and excitement. Ironically, most are banal and leave us lost and disillusioned, yet still we all try to make a name for ourselves.

That has some biblical basis. In scripture, a person’s name reflected something of their purpose in life. It was usually wishful thinking on the parent’s part, and a few times a corrective change was in order. Abram became Abraham, Saul became Paul and Jesus told Simon he was actually Peter, the rock. With that Peter’s created purpose was defined.

In his essay “What is Art?” Leo Tolstoy tells the story of the Russian painter Karl Bryullov correcting a student’s sketch. “Why, you only changed it a tiny bit,” the student marveled, “but it is quite a different thing.” Bryullov replied: “Art begins where that ‘tiny bit’ begins.” Tolstoy comments: “That saying is strikingly true not only of art but of all life. One may say that true life begins where the ‘tiny bit’ begins, where the infinitesimally small alterations of consciousness take place.”

Like Peter, Christ has a purpose for you and the answer to all of your searching will be found in Him. He created you as the unique individual you are and the book of Revelation says someday you will receive your real name.

If you are trying to find yourself, ask your Maker.

IMG_0181Revelation 2:17

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.


Dig Deeper

Art: The Last Day of Pompeii by Karl Briullov (1833)

Briullov visited Pompeii in 1828 and made sketches depicting the AD 79 Vesuvius eruption. The painting received rapturous reviews at its exhibition in Rome and brought Briullov more acclaim than any other work during his lifetime. The first Russian artwork to cause such an interest abroad, it inspired an anthologic poem by Alexander Pushkin, and the novel The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. It depicts a classical topic but exhibits characteristics of Romanticism as manifested in Russian art, including drama, realism tempered with idealism, interest in nature, and a fondness for historical subjects. A self portrait is in the upper left corner of the painting, under the steeple, but not easy to identify.

Literature and Liturgy:  Self-Actualization

Process of becoming all that one can become. A. H. Maslow identifies it as the highest level on his hierarchy of needs. Maslow first presented the hierarchy of needs in “Theory of Human Motivation” that appeared in Psychological Review in 1943 (Lowry, 1973). The term self-actualization was first used by Kurt Goldstein to refer to the tendency to become actualized in what one is potentially (Maslow, 1943).
A description of self-actualization would include use of talents, capacities, and potentiality that allows the individual to develop to the full statue of which one is capable (Maslow, 1970). It refers to the highest level of human growth where one has reached one’s fullest potential (Brockett and Hiemstra, 1991).
As lower level needs are satisfied new needs will emerge that hunger to be met. The emergence of higher level needs rest on prior satisfaction of physiological, safety, love, and esteem needs (Maslow, 1943).

Much of Maslow’s work placed self-actualization as the highest of the seven levels of need. The difficulty with studying self-actualized people is that so few can be considered to have achieved this level. His later work included an eighth level called transcendence (Hamachek, 1990).

Self-actualizers have a great deal of self-understanding and insight. They are creative and are not afraid to deal with unstructured situations or march to the beat of a different drummer. These individuals are consistently working toward higher levels and are able to utilize resources to their greatest potential (Brockett and Hiemstra, 1991).

Maslow conducted research in an attempt to identify characteristics of self-actualized individuals, which need to be followed with more studies. The following characteristics were identified: perception of reality, acceptance, spontaneity, problem centering, solitude, autonomy, fresh appreciation, peak experiences, human kinship, humility and respect, interpersonal relationships, ethics, means and ends, humor, creativity, resistance to enculturation, imperfections, values, and resolution of dichotomies (Maslow, 1970).
R. G. Brockett and R. Hiemstra (1991), Self-Direction in Adult Learning;
D. Hamachek (1990), Psychology in Teaching, Learning, and Growth;
R. J. Lowry, ed. (1973), Dominance, Self-Esteem, Self-Actualization: Germinal Papers of A. H. Maslow; A. H. Maslow (1973), Dominance, Self-esteem, Self-actualization: Germinal Papers of A. H. Maslow pp. 153–73; idem (1970), Motivation and Personality.
Michael J. Anthony et al., Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 620.