I remember thinking of God as a wise old man, with a long white beard. He sat on clouds and looked quite sour most of the time. He was a judge who saw everything I did and waited for me to do wrong. When I sinned, He would get me back – one way or another. It was like a childhood idea of karma which I projected upon God.
On the other hand, God also forgave anything I asked Him to. He had all the answers and was all-powerful. This gave me some peace and comfort. There was good with what I got right, but bad with what I got wrong.
How I thought of myself is a direct translation of what I thought of God. Because I thought of God as a judge, I thought He liked the good parts of me and hated the bad parts, because I did the same. I was wrong. I got God wrong and therefore I got myself wrong.
This same error plays itself out in everyone. Every time you get God wrong, you will inevitably mess up your understanding of who you really are.
Once I took on an adult faith, I had to deal with other defective images of God I had taken on through the years. These faulty images have implications in how I act, how I see others, how I view the world, etc. Which meant I have also had to heal and change the understanding of myself. To go evern further, if I mess up both God and myself, I can’t fail to mess up others either.
The great Christian writer, C.S. Lewis once wrote:
“There are three images in my mind which I must continually forsake and replace by better ones: the false image of God, the false image of my neighbours, and the false image of myself.”
All of us must deal, at some point or another, with our disordered views of God, self, and others. Below are a few of the most common and the problems they may present and what we can do with it.
These are just 10 of the many ways we can misunderstand God’s nature, ourselves, and others. The way we fix these problems (and others) is by continued conversion in faith, that is, we constantly seek to allow God to reveal Himself to us, through:
- Sacred Scripture
- The Sacraments
- other people
To be attentive to how God speaks to us and reveals Himself to us, we have to make ourselves available to Him and once we receive such grace, we must allow our minds and hearts to be transformed. Thus, we have to choose to act on His grace. In this, our hearts can be attuned to understand Him more deeply. Which is why the discovery of God’s nature is a never-ending task, even in heaven. This understanding of God can be transformative in helping us understand ourselves, others, the world, our purpose/mission, etc.
When God revealed Himself to St. Augustine – it changed everything:
“Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. These things kept me far from thee; even though they were not at all unless they were in thee. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace.” -St. Augustine