The Day I Picked Up An Escaped Convict That Helped me Find my True Self

When I was on a 6-hour road trip back to university I picked up a hitchhiker.

It was cold and wintery as I turned a corner on the Desert road and I saw a young man with his thumb stuck out. Thin, short hair and poorly clothed for the winter, I felt concern for him.

I pulled my little Mini over and offered him a ride.

I asked where he was going off we went. He didn’t say much but eventually, we arrived at my student flat.

After dinner, I then offered him a bed for the night which was gratefully received. In the morning he was off and I let him have my jersey.

I thought nothing of it, then things started to fall into place, like a little domino hitting a bigger one, then a bigger one etc.  

On that wintery road, there is a prison tucked away from the public eye (do I need to say anymore). I had picked up an escapee, took him into my home, fed him, clothed him and cared for him. Talk about young and naive.

So I went to the police station, told them what I had done and actually they didn’t seem that interested.

I still wonder what happened to him. Where he is now and what he is up to. Maybe my naive 19-year-old kindness sowed some rehabilitation seeds into his heart. I hope so.

Perhaps in my naivety,
I was demonstrating my true self.

I’ve runaway too.  Not from a state prison but from my truest identity.

The runaway

In the letter of Philemon in the Bible we find the story of a runaway slave, Onesimus, who through spending time with Paul discovers his truest self.

Paul writes a letter to Philemon the owner of this slave asking that he take him back.  Paul gives Onesimus a glowing reference.

Paul describes him as being his ‘very own heart’.  Philemon v12 and should be seen ‘no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother‘ v16

Something deep and good had happened In Onesimus while he lived with Paul. He was now a captive of Gods love.

Finding your truest self in God is not
a journey for wimps.

We put on masks, disguises, adopt identities while in fact, we are actually wearing prison clothes.

We all run away, and try to escape, only to discover that God, in disguise, is just around the corner. Open arms and ready to pick us up and continue the rehab work.

False Self/ True Self

For a while now I’ve been trying to work out what this talk about having a false self and true self is all about. It sounds all a bit mysterious, weird and just more psycho-spiritual jargon.

I found this definition to be helpful

The False Self: A definition
Any mask we hide behind to get what we want in life and avoid what we don’t.
Any disguise that we construct to cover our pride, fears, wounds, and needs.
Any identity that we accept other than our true identity in Christ  – the forgiven unconditionally beloved child of God.
Nathan Shattuck Impersonating Ourselves – The Truth about Ourselves (pdf)

What are you trying to escape from? 

The first place to start is to accept that we all have this false self. This person we are pretending to be. We know that hiding under all the masks and makeup there is a both a mess and a beauty.

The second thing to do is to simply ask God to remove the falsity we project out. To help us become who were always meant to be. This might be painful at times but it won’t be brutal.

The third thing to accept is that God is not naive to our propensity to run. To take charge and be in control. God knows us better than we know ourselves and will always be alluring us back to their presence.

God always wants you to come home.

Quotes to consider.

  • The prayer that precedes all prayers is may the real me meet the real you. C.S. Lewis Letters to Malcolm
  • Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. God, Himself begins to live in me not only as my Creator but as my other and true self. Thomas Merton
  • No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.  Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The root of Christian love is not the will to love, but the faith that one is loved. That faith that one is loved by God. That faith that one is loved by God although unworthy or, rather, irrespective of one’s worth. Thomas Merton
  • There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God. John Calvin
  • The true self is who, in reality, you are and who you are becoming. It is your total self as you were created by God and as you are being redeemed in Christ. It is the image of God that you are.
  • We do not find our true self by seeking it. Rather, we find it by seeking God. In finding God we find our truest and deepest self. It is by losing our self in God that we discover our true identity. David Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself

Questions to answer and leave a comment below or anonymously

  1.  Which of the quotes speaks the most to you? Why?
  2.  What is it about the character of God that just won’t leave us to being false about ourselves?
  3. What stories, personal or otherwise, got sparked while you read this post.

Barry Pearman

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2 Replies to “The Day I Picked Up An Escaped Convict That Helped me Find my True Self”

  1. Wow! Positively powerful
    Love the illustration beatifully done!!
    It reminded me of what Augustine said,” our hearts are restless until we find our home in God”

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