”Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself” – Kierkegaard
Yesterday Greg and I were tossing around the above quote. The simple and yet the profound. The tangible and intangible truth of the above words – hard to fully process and difficult to wrap your mind around.
The longer I live – the more I am convinced that our lives are in process of ‘becoming’ who we are. We are born – we have a certain ‘bent’ in our personality – those we genetically inherit and those we accumulate from our environment. We develop in that environment – have friends in school to measure ourselves against – and if we’re really lucky – have good parents, a healthy church and many people we look up to – like teachers, coaches and mentors. All of these help in the process of us ‘becoming’ who we are – but that in itself is not enough.
It takes many years of growing – getting through adolescence and young adulthood – to even begin to see our own unique gifts and personality. We make shifts and adjust our likes and dislikes – to get married and have children. For years we are lost in our lives – raising children – working outside the home – or in my case – in the home (being self-employed) and little by little – the years go by until you wake up one morning and your children – (that took over your life) – are all grown up and gone. You get ‘judged’ or criticized for ‘just being yourself’ along the journey and little by little you make the adjustment and ‘pull yourself in’ so that you won’t stick out – be different – be wrong. After years and years we forget what it really was that made us unique – and made us ‘who we are’.
So the question is this: Were we being our full and true self when we were younger? Before anyone criticized us for being that? – Were we ‘ourselves’ when we were busy raising children – or going about our daily routine? Or does becoming ourselves mean that we are on a journey – learning things from each of our experiences and taking it into the next step of our journey? Does it also mean that I can be ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ – not hiding behind a facade of who people really think I am? Because it’s easier? Because it’s safer? What if people don’t accept me for me – or even like me anymore if they find out who I am?
When you’ve spent most of your life in ministry situations like I have – you find many types of people out there. Many that present a ‘face’ to others because it’s easier and ‘safer’ to just go along than to risk being different. It was easier for me too. Hiding behind a ‘title’ and a facade is much easier than risking rejection because we are who we are.
I believe the ‘with God’s help’ part comes in to play when I first acknowledge Him as the Lord of my life – allowing Him to refine and change me – my attitudes and my ‘old nature’ to become more like Him everyday. But I also believe that God – through that process allows me to become who I am – and takes into account my personality – my strengths and weaknesses and surrounds me with people in my life that will help me and encourage me the most. If we live lives that are dedicated to Him – and truly pray for His guidance and blessings on our daily activities and the people that we come in contact with – and those we will come in contact with – then we need not fear becoming – and being ourselves. There is no fear – it is ‘safe’ to be me. We don’t need the ‘approval’ of man any more.
Whenever people tell me about their lives – troubles times and circumstances that brought them to this point – they are discouraged (as we all are from time to time) and wish life could have been different – wish they could go back and make different choices. I am always quick to remind them that God used those trouble times of pain and frustration in their life – to help them become who they are today. It is because of those circumstances – no matter what they are – that they are standing and talking about it today and they would not be who they are without them. Those very things helped to shape them into becoming themselves.
My prayer for you today is this: That you would allow Jesus to lead you and guide your life – talk to Him about navigating through those rough patches (we all have them) and submit to the process of ‘becoming who you truly are‘ as those circumstances happen to you. Be able to look clearly back over your shoulder at your past and say, ‘I can see now how God used that disappointment and hard time to make me stronger and set me on a different path’ or ‘I can look back and see His hand on my life during my journey. See His hand in your life as He allowed different people in your life to help and encourage you – and be convinced of the fact that He has been there every step of the way – in your past – here beside you today – and will continue on that road with you until you have learned everything there is to know about your journey. That you would feel ‘safe‘ being yourself. Let that be our prayer – all of us, to allow God to help us – as He gently leads us into the great unknown of becoming who we are.