I was both challenged and inspired by David Benner’s book The Gift of Being Yourself (IVP, 2004). Vacation time provides great opportunities to read great books like this. I realized that I had been thinking of knowing God as a very spiritual pursuit and knowing myself as a very psychological pursuit. Benner convincingly argues that you must do both. You cannot know God without knowing yourself and you cannot know yourself without knowing God. Knowing must be experiential, experiential implies subjective, and this kind of knowing requires both God and us in relationship. Also, this kind of knowing transforms us. This is what moved me deeply. “We come to know God best not by looking at God exclusively, but by looking at God and then looking at ourselves, then looking at God, and then again looking at ourselves.” He uses examples from the lives of Peter, Paul, Augustine, Calvin and many others to anchor his points in historical reality. He helped me integrate even the unpleasant things from my darker side with knowing God. Everything fits together in this transforming relationship. I plan to go back sometime late and read the book again. I recommend it for everyone. David Benner is the director of the Institute for Psychospiritual Health.
Knowing God AND Knowing Self