I do not like the onion analogy. You know the one that states; we are like onions and together with God we need to work to strip away the layers of our false self which separate us from all God has for us. Each time I hear this analogy, I think to myself-what is left after the layers are stripped away? What remains when I strip away all that I have come to know to be me, like an onion is there nothing?
Honestly, that is my fear, and my reason for holding on to my layers. They have served me well. They have protected me, helped me to function and given me direction. These layers are not there by accident. They have developed over a lifetime and have come to determine who I am, how I view and interact with the world. So, now I am told I am a human onion who must peel off layer after painful layer until there is nothing left. No! I don’t think that is right or accurate. As I look at myself as a creation of God, more specifically a new creation in Christ Jesus, there is no way that beneath all those layers there is nothing.
That is why I prefer to replace the onion with an artichoke. Like the onion, the artichoke can be peeled layer after layer and like the onion, peeling an artichoke can be a difficult experience. Unlike the onion though, the outside layers of an artichoke are tougher and as one removes more and more the layers become gradually more fragile, requiring more attention as they are removed. But the greatest difference between an onion and an artichoke is learned when all the layers have been removed – with an onion there is nothing left, but with the magnificent artichoke you have a tender heart. To me the heart speaks of the essence of who I was created by God to be.
I am motivated to remove the layers of my false self because of the treasure that lives buried beneath those layers-my heart- my essence- the one who God uniquely created me to be.
When I see myself as an artichoke I no longer have the fear that there is nothing at the core of who I am. Instead I sense a deep and profound reality beneath the layers, a reality which when uncovered and fully embraced will lead me to experiencing the fullness of life which Jesus has provided through His death and resurrection. An onion or an artichoke…to me there is a big difference, the difference between hopeful exploration and fearful resistance.
The good news is that we are artichokes and that God will partner with each of us to carefully and tenderly remove the layers of our false self so we can be who God and Christ has uniquely and wondrously made us to be.
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