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Self Discrepancy: Who We Are vs. Who we Want to Be
Happy New Year everyone! In our most recent podcast episode, we discussed a word we felt the Lord had for us this year: discrepancy. The self-discrepancy theory states that individuals compare their “actual” self to internalized standards or the “ideal or ought self.” Self-discrepancy is the gap between two self-representations that leads to negative emotions. Essentially, it is how we deal with the difference between who we think we should be or want to be, versus who we actually are.
We all struggle with the desire to be perceived a certain way by others. We don’t want others to find fault with us; we want to be perceived in a good light, to be seen as righteous, perhaps even perfect. And ultimately, we want to measure up to this idealized version of ourselves. However, the truth is we are all still learning and growing. We are still having great days and then harder ones, walking in righteousness while being confronted with our sin.
A discrepancy in a measured quantity for an instrument is the difference between its measured value and true value or accepted value. This difference between these values is known as the absolute error. If God’s word is the measure by which we live, what is the difference between that and how we choose to respond and act? If His word says to act one way, and we act completely contrary to that command, are we not in absolute error? Furthermore, how can we reconcile these differences to become one and the same?
As believers, we are all striving to be like Christ. But we cannot achieve this on our own; we cannot live perfect lives. We must realize that there is an internal battle: who we are now versus who we’d like to be. Ultimately, we cannot measure up to our “ideal self.”
Romans 7:24 “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
The thing is, God doesn’t use perfect people. Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” We aren’t required to be perfect, but rather, to rest in the One who is.
So there needs to be a surrender.
We must realize and confess that we are weak and desire the power of Christ to rest upon us. We need to pay attention to the differences we see when we compare who we are to who we want to be according to His word. We can only do what is right because of Christ. Him living in us, and us yielding to His authority and headship.
That is what is so amazing about God’s word because His truth supersedes our reality. We may be, act, or feel a certain way, but those realities do not define what is true. Rather, we define those things by what God says is true. We don’t have to fall into the same mindset as the world, where truth is relative to our experience or circumstance. Instead, we can remain steadfast and sure, knowing that His word tells us who He is and who we really are, and there’s no discrepancy there.
Questions to ask yourself about discrepancies in your own life:
Is there a discrepancy in my spiritual walk? Are the things I say I believe and what I actually believe the same?
In my marriage: Do I have a double standard, allowing myself to be served, but not serving my spouse?
In parenting: Am I telling my kids one thing, yet doing the opposite?
In friendships: Am I paying attention to what I am saying and doing? Do I view myself as a good friend, but in my actions, I reveal something else?