"Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee." —Augustine
Much is said in Christian circles about knowing God. But Christians throughout the ages have agreed that there cannot be deep knowledge of God without deep knowledge of the self. Discerning your true self is inextricably related to discerning God's purposes for you. Paradoxically, the more you become like Christ, the more you become authentically yourself.
In this profound exploration of Christian identity, psychologist and spiritual director David G. Benner illuminates the spirituality of self-discovery. He exposes the false selves that you may hide behind and calls you to discover the true self that emerges from your uniqueness in Christ. Freeing you from illusions about yourself, Benner shows that self-understanding leads to the fulfillment of your God-given destiny and vocation.
Rest assured, you need not try to be someone you are not. But you will deepen your experience of God through discovering the gift of being yourself.
This expanded edition, one of three titles in The Spiritual Journey trilogy, includes a new epilogue and an experiential guide with questions for individual reflection or group discussion.
"Rarely do I suggest a book in spiritual direction with the exception of the sacred Scriptures. However, The Gift of Being Yourself I would offer to directees with enthusiasm. David Benner has shown us where life experience, personal insight and prayer meet: in God. I highly recommend it, especially for people beginning in spiritual direction."
"As he has done many times before, David Benner guides us to a place of wisdom and devotion with this beautiful book. With empathy and insight he demonstrates that the two great tasks of life—knowing God and knowing ourselves—converge into a single adventure as we are drawn into the arms of our loving God."
"Slowly we are unpacking the full implications of incarnation. David Benner does exactly the same in this excellent book, using good theology, psychology and spiritual practice to make the profound obvious. This is the work of all good teachers."
"David Benner is a keen student of both God and human personhood. It is a rare kind of book that combines wisdom about faith and understanding about the self. This is that kind of book."
"David Benner's The Gift of Being Yourself is the best treatment of the journey to becoming one's true self that I have ever read. I began reading the book as a favor to David; I finished it in one four-hour sitting as a favor to me. Drawing from his wisdom as a psychotherapist and spiritual director, insights from Scripture, and his own self and God discoveries, David gently describes the great disparity between the false self that most of us have become and the self-in-Christ that we are intended to be. I have never been so challenged and warmly inspired to receive the gift of being my true self."
"Wise, compassionate and accessible, David Benner's The Gift of Being Yourself is truly a gift to the dedicated seeker. The author draws on his professional experience as a psychologist and his own lifelong vocation as a Christian. The result is a book that felicitously weaves together the insights of psychology and Christian spirituality."
"In contrast to other books filled with drive-through pop psychology and sound-bite spirituality, Benner, a psychologist and spiritual director, offers an impressively deep and challenging introduction to Christian self-discovery in a little more than 100 pages. . . . He offers a clear and practical outline for those seeking to begin the lifelong process of knowing God and knowing themselves in an authentic way. . . . His discussion of accepting our flaws and sins as a necessary step to transformation is a model of lucidity. Although self-knowledge is the subject, it becomes clear that transformation is the ultimate goal both of this book and of the journey it invites readers to begin."
"As a teacher of spiritual directors, I require my students to read The Gift of Being Yourself first. Understanding the false self and receiving the true self is essential for knowing God and one's truest desire, and it's a prerequisite for discerning this story in the lives of others. This new edition encourages readers to stop and consider the implications for themselves through questions and through examples from Benner's own life and the experiences of others. This calls for a careful consideration of Benner's premise as a lived reality, and not just as theory or ideas. I will highly recommend this edition for students of spiritual direction and formation."
"A small, engaging book on knowing God and knowing self. The Gift of Being Yourself gets beneath the crust of ego and past persona and behind image to the truth of you. Here is a pathway to discover and receive the beloved unrepeatable self that God designed you to be."
Foreword by M. Basil Pennington
Preface: Identity and Authenticity
1. Transformational Knowing of Self and God
2. Knowing God
3. First Steps Toward Knowing Yourself
4. Knowing Yourself as You Really Are
5. Unmasking Your False Self
6. Becoming Your True Self
Epilogue: Identity and the Spiritual Journey
Appendix: For Reflection and Discussion
A Six-Session Discussion Guide to The Gift of Being Yourself
A One-Session Discussion Guide to The Gift of Being Yourself
About the Author
Books by David G. Benner