In the worldly way of thinking, it is very high praise to say of someone, “She is always true to herself.” We don’t say that of someone who is by nature deeply kindhearted and in accordance with that nature always acts in a kindly fashion. We say it of someone who has arrived at certain conscious principles of behavior, and whose voluntary activity is regimented by those principles. Typically those principles are something we also applaud, but there is nothing in the nature of the compliment that requires that agreement: we might readily say it of someone committed to hedonism or vainglory, and we are saying it admiringly, even while we disapprove of their principles.
But this is another example of how the ways of heaven differ from the ways of the world. In the Christian way of thinking, being ‘true to oneself’ is precisely what we are asked to abandon, in favor of being true to Christ. That’s why the lives of saints so often seem whimsical, even self-contradictory.
But like them, we must never fear inconsistency in our lives.
Inconsistency is a failure of principled self-governance, not of following Christ. Jesus Himself – always obedient to God – was as wayward as the wind in His behavior, thus demonstrating that the ways of God are inscrutable to those seeking fixed standards and cogent argument. If rules and reasoning – the standards of consistency – were sufficient guides to life, we should not need Christ’s Spirit.
Perhaps the most tempting Siren call from the Christian Way is to make idols of principles.