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.”

3 comments on “Self Definition – Self Esteem, Faith in its many Forms”

  1. Bernadette Brown says:

    I was wondering if you could say more about the idea of “being someone” compared with the idea of already being someone but by and large the idea of the empty vessel which pounds upon a person to be shaped and in many situations the demands of higher powers that insist on demanding the shape that a person is required to take. I was quite disappointed that there were only two categories for your library when you project out these wonderful messages of believing and having faith in your sense of knowing that you were born with a lot of what is required to affirm your humanness. I believe that rather than having such polarising descriptions such as “member” or “off the street” maybe you could alter this to a more ordinary circumstance of just non – member.

  2. Bernadette Brown says:

    I find that there are too many things that cut across the pursuit of representing my most faithful self. Too many people engage in the idea of like mother like daughter or like father like son. Many people are in hot pursuit of a few narrowly channelled ideas. They incorrectly seek out the evidence of a preferred dominant hand. They chase early signs of intelligence and can quite often make mistakes regarding the importance of the sole value of this and then it can so easily be assumed that they will be able to jet propel themselves into a deep alliance with their environment.Early faith can make a person too vulnerable, and a naivety can exist with this that can make a person feel purely torn. One of the greatest destroyers of faith is judgement and this can often come from a very insecure place in others.

  3. Bernadette Brown says:

    Isn’t it a shocking shame that people want to shape their children as if they were clay that needing to be worked on extensively and then make their judgment intently. By nature a child can only know what can be successfully integrated into their schemata and if the new knowledge is a happy match progress will be made but if meaning and connectivity are left out the time often becomes fraught with tension and distress for all.

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