Dying to My Old Self: A Eulogy
I’ve spent a lifetime pursuing emotional and spiritual wholeness, and I’ve come to learn that it’s pretty near impossible to find that kind of life without first experiencing death. No one likes death and dying, but they are necessary processes to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Like the seed that has been dried out and buried beneath the earth, we too must submit to the practice of allowing our unhealthy, ungodly selves to desiccate and die, so that a new, vibrant life can spring forth.
I wish this was a one-and-done process. But as we go further in our pursuit, we must delve deeper. Deeper to uncover hidden lies, hidden sins. Deeper to experience deeper levels of healing and new life. So as we peel back each layer, we view it in the light of Jesus, and whatever does not hold up under his light must then be put to death. I had such an occasion recently, after uncovering some deeply entrenched beliefs that were rooted in lies and painful experiences. These lies were so big and powerful, I gave them a mock-funeral to mark their passing.
With guidance from my skilled and compassionate therapist, I wrote down the things I was dying to on strips of paper, and sealed them inside a small box. I placed the box in the fire pit, and set it ablaze. As the box was consumed (Disco Inferno playing softly in the background), I read my own eulogy:
Today, we say goodbye to the old Michelle. She was a nice girl, but she was a slave to her emotions, and ultimately, that’s what did her in.
Though she knew much, she just could never fully grasp who she really was, or how her Father loved her.
Her performance-driven coping skills took her pretty far in life, but in spite of her accomplishments and her well-adjusted façade, she was eventually crushed under the weight of her own orphan spirit.
Today, she leaves behind her lifelong companions:
She also leaves behind her reactive, unstable mindset,
her secret self-righteousness, and her victim mentality.
Today, we send these things back to the flames from which they arose, and as we say goodbye to the old Michelle, we remember that if she has been united with Christ in the likeness of his death, so shall she also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that her old self has been crucified with him, so that her body of sin might be destroyed, and she should no longer be a slave to sin. For she who has died is freed from sin.
So farewell, old girl, we wait expectantly for the resurrected life of a new Michelle. A life lived fully to the glory of God, with an identity firmly rooted in her adoption by the Father, loving others with her whole heart, even as she is loved by the One who has resurrected her.
And with that, they were gone. Forever, in Jesus’ name. Not that there will never be reminders of those old beliefs. But they are now just ghosts of an old, past life; transparent and seen for what they truly are: lies. For me, this ceremony was not a somber event, but a joyful and lighthearted one–“burn baby, burn” punctuating the pauses between my sentences. That is not to say I didn’t take it seriously. I did. I just was not at all sad to see these parts of me die.
I was grateful.
I am such a big believer in these symbolic actions. For one, they add an extra measure of intentionality to the act of surrendering to Christ and dying to ourselves. Second, they create a memory to file away with the act itself. We forget so quickly what God does in our lives, never mind what we decide to do for him. So that symbolic outward act in conjunction with the inner one creates a sort of Ebenezer within us, a commemoration of God’s help in our lives. We need all the help he has to give, and all the help we can get to remember what he’s accomplished in us.
So what needs dying in you? What layer needs to be peeled back and examined in the light of Jesus’ love and truth? Chances are good that you have something to uncover, waiting to be addressed. And then just like that, it can be surrendered and put to death, so a new, resurrected you can emerge.
Burn baby, burn.