The True Self and the Story of Me

Glory to God for All Things

At some point early in life, we begin to construct a narrative. Composed of memory and emotion, complete with  critical commentary, this narrative becomes what we consider to be the self. This narrative may be revised and reinterpreted any number of times across a lifetime. The great tragedy, from a Christian point-of-view, is that this carefully constructed and defended story is not the true self. At best, it could be termed the ego, but even that grants it a privilege to which it is not entitled. The true self is quite distinct. Distinguishing between the two is one of the most essential tasks of the spiritual life. It is also a task almost completely lost within modern Christian awareness.

Within certain strands of Orthodox Christian writing, the true self is seen as centered in the heart. Though the heart carries a variety of meanings (some contradictory) in both…

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