My dear reader,
Recently, a friend of mine remarked that she wasn’t feeling like herself. I’ve heard that comment from others before, but this time it struck me as odd. I understand feeling “out of sorts” or “under the weather” or “down in the dumps.” But I can’t really comprehend not feeling like me. Unless I was given a chance to feel like Cleopatra or Coco Chanel… or Jane Austen (when she was completely and perfectly and incandescently happy). In that case, I might consider making the switch. For a day or two.
What about you? Do you feel like yourself? How so? Why not?
Or more pointedly…
Who do you think you are, anyway?
I know, it’s a loaded question. But have you ever really stopped to think about it? Or were you just involuntarily swept away from dreaming about what you wanted to be when you grew up to… adulting… every dang day. Work/bills/laundry/dishes/dentist/DMV.
Did your life turn out like you hoped/prayed/dreamed it would? What about you? Did you turn out like you hoped/prayed/dreamed you would?
Good questions. Take some time. (I’ll wait.)
Sometimes we get so busy answering the little questions (What’s for dinner? When is trash pickup? Where are my keys?) that we forget to ask the big ones (Is God real? What is love/truth/the meaning of life? Who am I?)
These are the $64,000 questions. (Not that I’m going to pay you if you can answer them. Sorry to disappoint.)
At some point, we all try to figure out who we are. We delve into our family history or start therapy. We take a DISC or Enneagram or Briggs-Myers test. We search for (or armchair analyze) our birth parents. We travel to our ancestral home or do a DNA analysis. And while these things can be helpful, they can’t possibly fully reveal your identity, estimate your potential, or capture the essence of you.
What defines you?
Your past? Your personality? Your pursuits or possessions? Your looks? Or your “likes”? Your resume? Your relationship to someone else?
Perhaps you simply defaulted to accepting others’ definition of you:
Who your parents said you were.
Who your friends say you are.
Who your colleagues or classmates think you are.
Maybe you’ve been believing what other people have said about you all this time. Because you didn’t have the gumption/grit/guts to not let them do that to you, define you.
Or maybe you’ve crafted your own “self-image”… and it comes down to this:
Who the virtual world perceives you are. (Smiling. Styling. Living it up in the city.)
But the fact of the matter is… deep down… you know who you are/where you’ve been/what you’ve done.
That’s the “closet” you.
But most of us don’t really like that person, do we? Because deep down, we’re unsure (or ashamed) of that person. And that isn’t who we were intended to be, anyway. (Like Lady Gaga says, we were just “born this way.”) But even that – all our innate shortcomings and errant thinking and inevitable sin – doesn’t have to define us.
Somehow, we’ve got to find our way. The way to become ourselves.
The real, true, free-to-be you (and me).
Here’s what I think. I think the only way to find our way is to find… the Way. Get to know the One who made us and knows us inside and out. The One who’s always there for us. (Even at our ugliest and worst. Even in the deepest pit. On the darkest night. When we’re convinced we are utterly, irreversibly alone.)
I’m amazed at how well you know me. It’s more than I can understand. How can I get away from your Spirit? Where can I go to escape from you? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in the deepest parts of the earth, you are also there. Suppose I were to rise with the sun in the east. Suppose I travel to the west where it sinks into the ocean. Your hand would always be there to guide me. Your right hand would still be holding me close. (Psalm 139: 7-10, NIRV)
Unless we know our Father, we’ll never have any idea who we really are.
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! (Psalm 139:13, The Message)
Unless we plumb the depths of God’s wonder, we can never know ours.
And we’ll have zero chance of being utterly, eternally secure and permanently, profoundly significant. No hope of ever really/truly/unalterably belonging. No shot at averting a full-blown identity crisis. (Adolescent or mid-life or any other variety.)
Getting to know God is the way we begin to become ourselves.
Don’t you want to meet your Maker? (Oh, you’ll meet Him when you die. That’s unavoidable. But I highly suggest getting to know Him beforehand.)
You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. (Psalm 119:73, NLT)
You didn’t choose your eye color or vocal range or skin pigmentation, did you? Of course not. And even your parents didn’t have final say on the colors, characteristics, design, and details of the masterpiece that is you.
Your DNA only scratches the surface of who you are and who you were meant to be.
It’s your divine soulprint that divulges the details.
Aren’t you curious to know why God gave you that artistic eye or your mechanical ability or that great golf swing or your infectious laugh? Don’t you want to find out what He’s got in store for you?
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. (Jeremiah 29:11-13, The Message)
God has given you a place on this planet… a mission to accomplish… a future… a hope.
Get after it.
P.S. If you fear it’s too late (or think you’re in too deep) for a do-over, think again.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. (2 Corinthians 5:17, AMP)
I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. (Philippians 3:12-14, CEV)
Now that’s good news.