The Unadorned Self

“When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, ‘Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’” – John 1:47-48

I made my living as a human resources officer for many years, working for several companies, large and small. During that phase of life, I was called upon to interview many people, seeking to fill various job openings.  The intent of the interview process is to determine, through conversation and questioning, whether a candidate possesses the skills to perform a particular role, their desire to meet the requirements of that role, their potential to fill other roles, and their “fit” with the organizational culture.

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Knowing that job candidates almost always try to present their “best selves,” the interviewer’s job is to discover the “real” or “unadorned self” of each applicant. Effective interviewing combines both art and science to peel back the layers of each person’s presentation in order to arrive at good selection decisions.

There’s nothing unusual about wanting to present an adorned self; it’s consistent with how we’ve (in the West) been socialized. We’ve been taught to put our best foot forward since early childhood, and those lessons influence just about every area of our lives, whether professional or personal.  An easy example would be in how we respond to the question, “How are you?” Responses like “Great!” or “I’m good; how about you?” are hardwired in.  How many of us would dare to tell the truth on most occasions if that truth was anything other than “Fine?”

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Imagine Peter applying for the job of Apostle, and the interviewer asks him to share an example of a time when an area of weakness inhibited his effectiveness, and then asks him to talk about what he was thinking and feeling at the time, and what he learned from that experience. Peter: Well, sometimes my passion gets the best of me. I’ve been known to act before I think.   There was this one occasion when I cut someone’s ear off.  At the time, I thought it was a good idea…

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In this mock setting, Peter reveals what a friend calls his jerkface, that untransformed part of him that, like his action-oriented, ready to lead side, is a part of who he really is.  This is a side he might prefer to keep hidden in most instances.  No, there’s nothing unusual about it, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

We each have a jerkface side.  It may be the way we unconsciously reveal a character flaw or an area of insecurity or a behavior response developed to deal with unresolved hurt or trust issues or anything else that may be a manifestation of emotional and spiritual imprisonment, blindness, and/or oppression (Luke 4:19-19).  While we often work hard to keep these things hidden from the eyes of others (and perhaps from ourselves), Jesus sees all of us with perfect clarity, just like he saw Nathaniel.  He doesn’t need to ask interview questions to know the full truth about each of us.  To Him, we each are fully peeled onion.  A question we should ask ourselves is whether we are open to knowing the truth about ourselves?  Are we willing to see our unadorned self?

That Jesus sees us and still loves us is really good news.  Thanks be to GOD!  While we may never acknowledge those jerkface parts of ourselves to a human interviewer, we can and should acknowledge them to Him in the full confidence that He already knows and is waiting for us to give them to Him as an offering of faith.  What might Jesus do in the life of one who is truly unadorned of all façades and is unafraid to trust Him?  Could  this be part of the pathway to abundant life that He spoke of offering us in John 10:10?  Just sayin’

© Byron L. Hannon, 2019. All rights reserved for text content.


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