My Self in Quotes


“If anyone would be my disciple, let them disown themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me. Anyone who tries to save their life will lose it, but anyone who loses their life for my sake will save it.”  ~Luke 9:23-24

I am deeply self-absorbed. By nurture: only child, “look at me” type from early on. And by nature: a ruminative explorer, forever spelunking my own subterranean grotto. Suddenly, a noise interrupts. I turn to see a beam of light. “I’m sorry, is someone there, someone who exists apart from me? Could it be I’m not the only real, living person?”

When I write, I willfully enter the labyrinthine thoughtscape where I chisel words that somehow, sometimes have meaning for others. But then I must carry them to the surface and climb back out into the light of human contact. And I must once again force myself to listen; must not only deliver messages, but receive them.

And the only way I can do this is to die again and again to the self-invented self, so the God-created self can live.

Only when my “self” in quotes is dead can my true self without quotes emerge.

And then, when I reenter the grotto, I realize I am not alone. The Other has been with me all along, handing me rough stones with human contours, saying, “Here, shape these and give them meaning. Do this out of love.” I couldn’t see it when I was encased in quotes, but now I can: I am only able to do this because I am not alone.

And I never was.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to My Self in Quotes

  1. Loved your metaphor and phrase: labyrinthine thoughtscape. I consider writing a sort of word-smithing, always chiseling to find the gold.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Discover and Explore says:

    Fascinating perspective!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’m not an only child, but I identify with the description, “a ruminative explorer, forever spelunking my own subterranean grotto.”
    Amen! Discovering you’re not alone.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Abe Austin says:

    Beautiful thoughts, Mitch. I have also always loved to go spelunking in the cave of myself. I feel so cozy and safe in my own little worlds and stories. Just a few years ago God offered to go exploring those worlds with me, though, and I felt a thrill of excitement. We’ve been able to collaborate together and discovered some truly wonderful things together, though admittedly I sometimes still forget to call him up when I’m heading out on a new expedition.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Gail Perry says:

    Love this! Thank you once again for sharing your life, since your discovering that the Other has been with you along reminds me, reinforces the fact that neither am I!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Lesley says:

    I love your creative and inventive ways of expressing yourself in words, Mitch. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well said, Mitch. Have you read anything by Richard Rohr? He has written a great deal about the false self and the God-made true self.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. “I couldn’t see it when I was encased in quotes, but now I can: I am only able to do this because I am not alone.”
    The “self” does not exist without the self. But it is like looking into a mirror darkly. It’s reversed. Have you ever been on a zoom meeting and reversed your image so you saw yourself as the others in the room see you? No biggie, unless you try to fix your hair. You look in the mirror so much that you cannot see yourself reversed and recognize what is right and what is left. You try to get your part straight and you cannot do it. Your illusion of your “self” is based on reversed image, not what God sees. You define yourself by what only you can see…the image that no one else sees. The only one deluded, then, is you! When you actually see your self as God sees you and as everyone else sees you, you get an eyeful! It becomes weird to look in the mirror.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Beautiful, bountiful blog, Mitch.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. “I chisel words that somehow, sometimes have meaning for others,” that made chuckle.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Ana Daksina says:

    Just about all my 4000 original works have been written in barely more time than it would have taken to copy them out, because I assume that their authorship is not my own and, at best, small suggestions from this copyist go into the final team product.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. An Audience of One says:

    This has Kendra written all over it. I think being self-absorbed comes with the territory, to some degree, when you’re an only child. But still… it’s something to fight, and I needed to hear what you said. Thank you, Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. #hood says:

    how many verses in luke 7 & 9


  14. K.L. Hale says:

    “Only when my “self” in quotes is dead can my true self without quotes emerge.”…Mitch, this metaphorical piece sums up your beautiful exploring life completely renewed each day by our Creator~the ultimate cave guide. You’re such a blessing with your words and life!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. gracespeaker says:

    This verse was a part of my reading today. Thank you for the extra focus on it!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Ann Coleman says:

    I honestly don’t remember how or when I first found your blog, but I am so very glad I did.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. markbierman says:

    Only through God’s strength can we be ‘reborn,’ well said, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

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