Staying Naïve

Most of us are naïve not from life-imposed deprivation but from a willful ignorance on our part, attempting to spare ourselves the pain and responsibility of self-knowledge.

Todd Beal

It is painful, and sometimes angering, to internally face our self, to look into the mirror and honestly confess what we see. Yet until we admit to our shortcomings, until we truly address them, we force others to feel the pain and anger we’re not willing to experience. Our behavior says, “I am not willing to deal with me, so you do it for me”, and all the while we claim no faults.

Understand, you are not perfect, so tell your Heavenly Father all about your imperfections. You are not all-knowing, so ask the Holy Spirit to teach you about yourself. You are not an island unto yourself, so share what you are with others, inside and out, including your faults. They will draw close to you, gain strength from your humility, and through your example, they will see that they too can change.

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About Todd Beal

I love truth and its facts. I love thought-provoking conversations that give both the other person and me a better understanding of a particular topic. I love to find answers to life-long questions; answers that let me see things for what they are instead of what they seem to be. I truly enjoy being in the midst of a group of people where all individuals are joining in, where everybody is enjoying the company of each other. I relax in the company of individuals who are competent yet humble. I like to catch myself doing or saying something ridiculous and then laugh my head off. I enjoy my church and being involved.
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17 Responses to Staying Naïve

  1. Lance Ponder says:

    I’ve not read Chicken Soup for the Soul, but if it doesn’t have this sort of stuff in it, it should.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Lance, that means a whole lot coming from you. Whenever I write on this topic, I have to do some soul searching in order to effectively pull it off. Hearing your agreement lets me know it is publicly acceptable. Thanks.

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      • Lance Ponder says:

        I enjoy having the opportunity to read thoughtful material. It enriches while it also stretches certain gray muscles. 😉

        Without using fancy church words, this post expresses the need to tap into our greatest spiritual resource, our testimony. Our hope lies in the One who makes us who we are meant to be, our Lord Jesus. When we turn from faith in [insert whatever you want here] to faith in Christ, He is faithful. His divine mind reveals Himself to us through the Holy Spirit. We are changed though this interaction, by His power, and it is this change to which we testify. We are renewed, we have hope, and we understand life itself in a new way. Whatever words we use, when it is Truth it is spiritual and it connects. It is the Spirit which converts a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. It is this change with manifests outwardly, both through word and deed, both of which being our testimony. When we are possessed by the Holy Spirit, we become one with God in an indescribable intimacy. Since you and I may share this intimacy with God, and God is One, then you and I become siblings with a unity that we could not know apart from God.

        Love is not about equality. We do not become equal to God by becoming His children through adoption and indwelling. This is why humility and love coexist so beautifully. So many would be gods, foolishly thinking themselves on equal footing with the Creator, because they do not understand a love relationship is just as valid vertically as horizontally.

        Thanks again for this post. I do appreciate it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Todd Beal says:

          Absolutely, Lance. All word, thought, and deed outwardly manifests as our personal testimony; and who better to help us develop that testimony than the one of whom we testify, Jesus himself.

          May I suggest that you repost your comment as a standalone post on your blog. You present a whole lot of substance here.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Todd, your post and Lance’s addition caused so many thoughts to go off in my mind that there’s no way I can express them all in the time I have. When you used the word “naive”, I first thought of the positive aspect of that word. Man, there are some things I sure wish I hadn’t seen in my life, things I should never have looked at or have come to know. Much of the trash in media these days is stuff we are well to remain naive about. On the other hand, that resistance of self-knowledge that you speak of is a severe limitation many of us put on ourselves. I see a parallel all the time in my work as a manager. Some people seem absolutely omnivorous for learning, and actively seek out anything new they can do or know. Others are quite content to remain in a narrow area of specialization, and actually fear knowledge, or the added responsibility it could mean. “Not my job”, is their motto.

    In the spiritual realm, the same type of thing goes on. As we gain life experience, many of us start to define ourselves in terms of what we are capable of doing and not doing, or learning and not learning. That makes it easy for us to say “not my fault” when something goes wrong because it’s “not my thing”. We don’t want to acknowledge big mistakes and create those internal protection mechanisms that make it easy to pass the blame on to someone else. This results in all kinds of psychological problems that we need “treatment” and “therapy” for, not to mention the rationalizations that lead to crime and violence.

    I like your suggestion of prayer and a meditative relationship with God to confront our inadequacies and deal with them. I also like what Lance says about developing that intimacy with God that saves us from ourselves. The world wants to take humanity out of the slums with all manner of godless philosophies and utopian schemes, but Christ takes the slums out of humanity through his ability to change human nature if we open ourselves to that change.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Michael, regarding the positive aspect of naïve (a lack of destructive knowledge), it is important to understand as much as we can about everything, including corruption, according to our internal fortitude and ability to understand. However, I find that most people don’t understand the difference between studying something purely in terms of its nature, behavior, and function, and ingesting that same something in terms of personal lifestyle or intimate involvement. For instance, I can learn all about pornography – the dysfunction it creates in families, the exploitation of children, sexually transmitted disease among the actors, computer viruses residing on pornography sites, sexual crimes, etc – without corrupting myself through firsthand participation.

      We tend to gravitate towards or repel against everything in life, strictly in terms of our desire for, or repulsion of, any particular something. Always, desire either helps us or hurts us. The first prerequisite to knowing anything is determining whether we should or should not desire a particular something. If we desire something that is bad for us, we need to pray that the Holy Spirit first destroy that desire, and second, teach us the truth about that something, thus guarding our heart and mind from indulging in it. The more we know about our enemy the easier it is to guard ourselves against attack.

      I concur with your lament over intimately knowing certain things; I sometimes long for my innocence. That lament is our soul crying out from the resultant corruption and shame of our personal intimacy with those destructive things. However, it is crying out because of the corruption we took into our self, but not because of our knowledge of how that something corrupts. Any war general will tell you to know your enemy better than he knows himself, but he will also tell you that the moment you sleep in his bed, is the very moment you become his victim. It is for this reason that the Bible is full of real-life graphic scenarios involving homosexuality (Genesis 19:1-11), conjuring up of the dead (I Samuel Ch 28), and rape (Judges 19). God gives us this knowledge so we can know our enemy, not feed our desires through naïve indulgence.

      Know God, know yourself, know your enemy; know what you should, and from all else, run!

      | The world wants to take humanity out of the slums with all manner of godless philosophies and utopian schemes, but Christ takes the slums out of humanity through his ability to change human nature if we open ourselves to that change. |

      You hit the nail right on the head with this statement. The key to permanently successful personal development is first asking Jesus into our heart, and second, opening our whole self to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and teaching. Apart from this, we inevitably feed our destructive desires and consequently starve our desire for God, killing our self for temporary scraps of mere pleasure.

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      • Great addition to the theme, Todd. I especially resonate with the idea of desire driving us for good or evil. So many people have given up on being as good as they can because the reward for goodness isn’t readily apparent in wordly terms. It’s counter-intuitive because the destructive effects of addictions like drugs and pornography are so obvious, but so many still succumb for the short-term pleasures they provide. Those things grab us by the nervous system and don’t let go. Goodness doesn’t have that same visceral effect; it works on a spiritual level, and one must be spiritually in tune to feel the euphoria of doing the right thing. When Jesus said “blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,” he recognized the human ability to get “hooked” on goodness, but those who are currently lost and out of tune wonder how. The answer is clear from our discussion: Knock and it shall be opened, ask, and it shall be given.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Todd Beal says:

          Michael, I don’t see how anyone could say it better.

          | When Jesus said “blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,” he recognized the human ability to get “hooked” on goodness, but those who are currently lost and out of tune wonder how. The answer is clear from our discussion: Knock and it shall be opened, ask, and it shall be given. |

          Herein lies the age-old dichotomy between feeling good from the indwelling of goodness and chasing pleasure just to experience a good feeling.

          Problem identified, problem solved! Excellent summary.

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  3. Todd, this is the third time I have returned to re-read this post and I’m still not too sure how to respond.

    You see, sometimes I think the opposite of what you say is more true for me. When I look in the mirror – or look at myself – I see a myriad of things that are wrong. I would like to be able to look at myself and “claim no faults” but I seldom see much that is good – except of course for what the Lord has achieved in me.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      I understand what you’re saying Angela. Knowing about the years of abuse you were forced to endure, I can see why you feel that way. During your formative years – that period of time when we develop our deep sense of identity and personal self-worth – your abusers repeatedly drilled into your head and into your heart that you are worthless and hopelessly flawed. Where else have I heard this? Satan always twists truth to serve his agenda.

      Angela, God makes no junk, despite the fact that we are imperfect because of our sin nature. God designed you according to his perfection. He designed you with a perfect personality and with perfect talents that only manifest imperfectly because of our fallen state. When we invite Jesus into our heart God begins to rebuild us from the inside out so that we can finally use our perfect design for his purpose. You must stop telling yourself, “I am this imperfection, these hopeless and worthless flaws.” You are not your imperfection, but nonetheless you are imperfect; you are imperfect but nonetheless you are perfectly designed. I suggest you begin to internally look yourself in the mirror and confess, “This talent and that talent, this quality and that quality, is what it is because God perfectly designed it to be that way.”

      It seems to me that you have subscribed to your abusers’ indoctrination of worthlessness, swallowing it hook, line, and sinker to this very day. So far, they’re winning because you still believe them. They’re no longer here but you keep inviting them back by believing what they told you. Stop! If God went to the bother of creating you in his perfect image, and sent his one and only begotten Son – his own heart, the One whom he deeply loved beyond our comprehension – to die an agonizing death on your behalf just so you would not die but live with him for eternity, then he certainly does not consider you worthless, but of infinite unfathomable worth.

      Angela, you see your flaws as who you are, but you see God’s work in you as only what he has done for you. It is time for you to reverse this lie. God’s work in you is who you are, his new creation, and your flaws are the result of what Satan has done to you, your fallen human nature. When this finally sinks in, you will for the first time in your life, recognize the perfection with which God designed you. You will stop seeing your flaws as who you are and instead see them for what they are, flaws apart from your identity. Grasping this truth will powerfully compel you to thank God personally for how he designed each specific aspect of your personality, including the birth-given qualities and talents that he gave only to you, no one else.

      It is time to change your mind. It is time to go free.

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      • Todd I couldn’t agree more with your para . . . “God makes no junk, despite the fact that we are imperfect because of our sin nature. God designed you according to his perfection. He designed you with a perfect personality and with perfect talents that only manifest imperfectly because of our fallen state. When we invite Jesus into our heart God begins to rebuild us from the inside out so that we can finally use our perfect design for his purpose.”

        I would however disagree with your statement “It seems to me that you have subscribed to your abusers’ indoctrination of worthlessness, swallowing it hook, line, and sinker to this very day.”

        I am a much-loved child of the living Creator God. He gave His very best for me. Doesn’t that make me of enormous value to Him? Of course it does! Although it seems blasphemous to say it, His love for me must be measured by His willingness to give His Son – not just give Him to live and die, but to BECOME SIN – the most abhorrent thought of all to a perfect God.

        Todd, I thank you sincerely for the time and care you put into this response. It speaks volumes of your caring nature and I want you to know I appreciate you.

        When I wrote of seeing a myriad of things that are wrong I did not mean it in the way it came across to you. The Lord has worked wonders in my life. I have achieved some amazing things – things I would have considered impossible. I look back at some of them and shake my head with almost disbelief.

        Sometimes I think that the further in life I travel – the more I know about my God and His Word – the “closer” I am to His way and His will – the more conscious I am of those “little” (no such thing as little) things that mar my fellowship with Him: those “little” things that draw my time away from Him.

        So when I “look into the mirror” I DO see the wondrous things the Lord has done in my life; I DO see the person HE has created me to be – but I also see those things which still mar the image. That is what I meant.

        Angela

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        • Todd Beal says:

          | So when I “look into the mirror” I DO see the wondrous things the Lord has done in my life; I DO see the person HE has created me to be – but I also see those things which still mar the image. That is what I meant. |

          I hear what you are saying Angela. The image that immediately comes to mind is a beautiful antique coffee table. When comparing it to a brand new showroom model, its years of wear immediately become apparent. It has nicks and dings in various places and its structure has shifted to slightly out of square. But on closer look, its hand rubbed sheen along with its one of a kind grain pattern made prominent with a deep rich finish, gives this seasoned old table a character unparalleled by the new model.

          We are the table, and often times we only see our nicks and dings as eyesores and undesirable. Sure, they make us less than perfect and mar what would otherwise be a perfectly smooth finish, but as we season and richly grow in our relationship with God, those flaws become less and less apparent as God continually works his saving Grace into our imperfections, giving us a one of a kind depth and richness that only years of life and serving him can produce.

          Thank you for your kindness Angela.

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  4. Madison Woods says:

    I think to see our faults, be pained with knowledge of the mistakes we’ve made, and to still love ourselves is probably one of the most difficult things we can achieve. But I easily do it when looking at my children. I do it for myself, too, but it didn’t come easy.

    To be naive is appropriate for children and the child-like ones. I think as an adult, and as protector of my children, it is vitally important that I know the horrors and dangers of the world. Otherwise, how can I help steer them clear of the pitfalls that await the innocent? Yes, God will protect. But He also gifted me with the ability to do my part.

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    • Madison Woods says:

      Well, I don’t have to know them intimately, but need to be aware of what could exist, at least.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      | To be naive is appropriate for children and the child-like ones. I think as an adult, and as protector of my children, it is vitally important that I know the horrors and dangers of the world. Otherwise, how can I help steer them clear of the pitfalls that await the innocent? Yes, God will protect. But He also gifted me with the ability to do my part. |

      You raise an important point Madison. For some strange reason, we will not usually do something real for our self, but will for someone we love. Maybe we just don’t love our self.

      I have often noticed that alcoholics, sex offenders, drug addicts, wife beaters, abuse victims (you name it), will not open up and share their story until they see someone else struggling with their same previous debilitation.

      Just this year I realized the depravity of the human condition, and that you, me, everyone, are all in this together. We are hopelessly lost without God, making me no better and no worse than anyone else, regardless. Only God’s goodness can restore our heart and powerfully compel us to reach our friend, our neighbor, the passing stranger, who is in life’s gutter and share the better way, the life-transforming power of Living Truth.

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  5. pbus1 says:

    Todd,

    I agree with Madison, that it is quite difficult to take an introspective look at one’s self, and not feel the pain that comes with recalling the misdeeds, the offenses, and the transgressions of my past, that are stored in my brain, as if stored memory on a computer hard drive. However, the fact that Jesus knows all about me, every mistake, every misdeed, every offense, and He still loves me, definitely cushions the blow. Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” God literally casts our sins into the depths of the sea, to be remembered no more! Praise God! If He can love me, in spite of me, I too can make an effort to do the same.

    May God’s blessings be upon you.

    Paulette

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Paulette,

      | However, the fact that Jesus knows all about me, every mistake, every misdeed, every offense, and He still loves me, definitely cushions the blow. |

      And it is for that reason that every person in whose heart Jesus lives need never fear knowing all that exists inside, good and bad. In him there is no fear. In him there is no rejection. In him there is no abandonment. In him there is nothing but everlasting freedom from life-robbing guilt. He is the reason we confess, for what we tell him through self-knowledge, he transforms from weakness and flaw into unbreakable personal character and life-giving power. 

      He is our reason for living, our hope, our Life.

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