Fundamental problem – too weak a sense of self

By Dave Henning / October 31, 2021

“Regardless of the standard we are seeking to meet, our fundamental problem is not having too strong a sense of self but too weak a sense of self.  The path to true satisfaction is not the loss of our
Striving Adam but the marriage of our ambition with the soulful satisfaction of being loved by God.”- Ken Shigematsu

“Self-rejections contradicts the sacred voice that calls us beloved.”- Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

In Chapter 2 (“The Whole Self”) of Survival Guide for the Soul, Ken Shigematsu observes that our need for the acceptance and respect of others fuels our drive to succeed.  But, merely acquiring a little more acceptance and respect fails as an antidote for that need.  Rather, we need a deeper experience of acceptance and love.

As a ten-year-old Korean boy who spoke broken English, Solnamoo Song found himself a regular target of bullies at school.  As a result, he spent his lunch hours hiding in a toilet stall.  Looking at himself as a mistake, one day he heard a clear voice telling him he wasn’t a mistake.  And, the voice added, “You are my son and I love you. . . .  Come out of the toilet.”

As Song walked down the hall, he stopped in the band room.  The director asked him to join the band.  And, with a few flute lessons under his belt back in Korea, Song did.  His talent soon became apparent.

At the age of thirteen, without any formal training, Solnamoo applied for the pre-college program at the Juilliard School of Music.  He felt self-conscious with his secondhand flute, held together with tape.  Yet, despite the laughs and smirks of the panel, Song won a scholarship.  With the only flute he could afford!

Today Song performs as prestigious venues around the world.  However, he always remembers the root of all his success – God loves Solnamoo!  Furthermore, Ken notes, the great theologian Paul Tillich tells us that “we must accept the fact that we are accepted.”

So, Ken asks, do you agree with Tillich’s statement?  And do you claim your belovedness?  That’s why the habit of spiritual practices is so essential to our soul’s survival.

Today’s question: Do you see your fundamental problem as too week a sense of self?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the annotated bibliography of Growing Slow

About the author

Dave Henning

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