The older I get, the more I am drawn to returning to Christ at my death as my true self. My spiritual walk has recently been affected by reading Thomas Merton and learning more about my Enneagram type.
I had hours to pass on a flight to Florida to see my grandchildren, so I was thrilled to have The Relational Soul; Moving from False Self to Deep Connection by Richard Plass and James Cofield as my traveling companion.
In seminary, I studied narrative therapy and have always believed of the value of a life story as I have counseled people in the last ten years. Plass and Cofield recommend using life mapping as “Our story carries the emotional and existential meaning of our life experiences”. They say that “remembering and telling our story take us home to ourselves. There is no possibility of soulful relationships without an integrated soul that has embraced its story (the good, the bad, and the ugly)”.
Could life mapping my own life help me to come home even more to my true self? I’ve done my own therapy and told my story, but Plass and Cofield recommend being intentional about exploring the interpretations of significant events in our lives. They contend that as we heal our interpretations, we shift from mistrust to trust, from reactivity to receptivity, and we become more relational at our core. It sounds to me like I would have no need for my false self.
Thomas Merton says that “All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality of life to which everything else in the universe is ordered. Thus I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experiences, for power, honor, knowledge and love, to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real. And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface […]” (New Seeds of Contemplation).
As I look forward to life mapping my own life, perhaps I will see this as a valuable tool for my own pastoral counseling client.
Kathy Milans is the lead team member for Soul Care Collective’s Steering Committee.