When asked how he carved David, Michelangelo said, "I just chipped away whatever was not David." Perhaps this is an apt metaphor for becoming our true selves. We don't need to keep adding more and more layers, but rather to let go of whatever pulls us away from or crowds out our inner self.
This can be a difficult task because first our parents have an idea of who they want us to be and they chip away at whatever is not consistent with their desires. In turn, this is true of friends, mentors, our spouse, society, the media and so on. We are shaped by a plethora of carvers, chipping away to find their desired image of us. We feel pressured to do and be more and more, when in reality we may need less and less.
Becoming is not about adding layers, but of shedding—of releasing fears, failures, hang-ups, false expectations. It takes courage and the embrace of God's love to let go of others' images and expectations of us. But when we ask ourselves, "In God's eyes, who am I created to be?" we can gain new perspective and the freedom to listen to our inner voice rather than react to external pressure. We can release outward behaviors that do not match our inner identity. We can see any circumstance, whether positive or negative, as an opportunity to become closer to God and allow him to be the master carver.
This perspective has given me a new way to understand my current health challenges – they are an opportunity for shedding. I can use this time to allow God to chip away at whatever is not in line with who God wants me to be.