I chose the second book that my sister, Paula, and I are reading and studying together. I have fallen in love with the writings of Brennan Manning and this was one I had not read yet. I first was introduced to him when Fil Anderson came to Epworth UMC for a series of Wednesday nights to discuss his book Running on Empty. Fil had deep respect for Brennan Manning and after reading his words in the preface to Fil’s book I was hooked. My friend, Jen, also was a huge fan, having read The Ragamuffin Gospel and she was sure that I would like his writings. She was right!
The second chapter of the book Abba’s Child deals with the idea of the imposter that lives within all of us. For Brennan it was the repressed part of his younger days that allowed him to function and live in an environment that was less than ideal. The imposter lives in fear. His assessment is that the imposter in us craves acceptance and affirmation. Wow—how true is that? How often have I fallen prey to someone’s praise and flattery of something that I have done? Often! It feels good to have someone acknowledge when you have done a good job, though, doesn’t it? I think what Brennan is commenting about is a little bit more than just acknowledging this—I think he is talking about when we strive to do things and SEEK out that approval because without it we have no sense of self worth. We attach importance to things that really are not important at all and that separates us from the relationship that our God wants us to have with Him.
One particular portion of this chapter hit me like a truck ! This was when the author was talking about the obsession that we in North America seem to have with weight loss! Manning gives the “imposter” credit for this obsession. Of course overall health is important but how much time and energy is devoted to the pursuit of weight loss??? Just thinking about how many commercials and television shows air is a true indicator of our compulsion with this Manning paraphrases Cardianl Wolsey “Would that I served my God the way I have watched my waistline!” Food for thought. Sorry, no pun intended!
I especially appreciated the dream he detailed with Carlton Hayes and Moe—Moe was content in his servanthood and was complete in his life. He did not seek the things that the imposter in Carlton sought.
So why do we choose to not be our true self with God??? I believe he longs for that. Our deepest desire should be that perfect intimacy with our Creator and yet how many times do I catch myself praying “Lord—help me feel closer to You?” but I only utter the words and do nothing more to seek that intimacy? I can not put a number to those empty prayers. Though I do not think they are empty when I pray them —without action and true openness that is what they become for me. I am guilty of allowing the imposter to rule my life.
Prayer is my lifeline to God. As Jeffrey D. Imbach wrote “Prayer is essentially the expression of our heart longing for love. It is not so much the listing of our requests but the breathing of our own deepest request, to be united with God as fully possible.” So I need to seek that with all my heart. And maybe when I find that, put all the imposters behind me, I will be able to live by grace and not performance as Manning does.