Self Definition – Self Esteem, Faith in its many Forms
Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 17 April 2016.
By John Abbate.
“Every human being has the astonishing capacity to be a different person in different situations,” Dr Macnab began his address. “We carry within us multiple presences.” As we change ourselves for different people and situations, memory also brings us into perpetual dialogue with the past and even more versions of ourselves, some of which we might wish to forget.
As we wrestle with the the question of who we really are, the many expressions of self can become a source of confusion and defensiveness. Why was I an angry person back then, but a gentle person at another time? Why was I one kind of person and not another kind of person, the person I want to be?
“I think this matter of being somebody affects everybody,” said Dr Macnab. “How can I get my many past selves together, so that, like Jacob, I will walk into a new day?”
We must first of all accept the many parts and expressions of the self. By practising a more thoroughgoing self-acceptance we can become more comfortable with our past selves, our current self, and the self we envision for the future. We need to accept the damaged parts of the self, and “in spite of the damage…stand up again and walk into a new day, blessed.”
Faith will play a role in our struggle to discover who we are. For Dr Macnab, faith is the source of ultimate acceptance, and the way to a realisation of our fullest self-expression and self-definition, embracing consolation, soothing, comfort and support. We may not need traditional religion, but we need faith “to realise there is healing for our damaged, destructive selves.”
“We all need to be reminded of how good religion is there for us,” said Dr Macnab, “and what it is pointing us to: a deeper understanding of ourselves, an extraordinary capacity that we all have, to carry with us many good and positive expressions of the self, and they are all given.”