How do you keep a grip on your truest self? This is the challenge. In chaos and flux, it’s easy to lose yourself. When you’re unsure of yourself and under the scrutiny of likeminded people who want to nudge you toward their personal reality, it’s most difficult.
God created each of us to fulfill a specific task, to be a certain person. We are each a finely crafted poem, a masterpiece designed by the brilliant Creator. Every detail—from the number of hairs on our heads to the tears God keeps in his bottle—is significant. If we remain true to the gifts God has given and the calling he has on our lives, all is well.
We still face the usual challenges in growth:
- clothing ourselves with the renewed self, which Christ’s Spirit is creating within us;
- putting off the old sinful habits and ways of thinking, so we can live in this new redeemed way;
- growing to know God better, so we release our terrified, grasping attempts to be in control.
But if we remember who we are, who God made us to be—not who we used to be or who people expect us to be—at least we won’t careen through our Christian life in a perpetual identity crisis.
The problem often starts when our parents don’t see us rightly. Expecting us to be a mini-version of themselves, they might have specific ideas about who we are. To please them, we may morph into a template of them, rather than becoming our own self.
As we grow in Christ, we begin to realize who we truly are. We step out of the darkness and into the light. We recognize our gifting. Strangely, self-absorption is counterproductive in this process. Our truest self comes to light as we become more like Christ. As we are transformed into Christ’s image, our strengths grow even more vivid, and our passions become even more satisfying and apparent.
“If God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Even though you still experience all the limitations of sin, you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life.” (Romans 8:9a, 10, The Message)
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:2-3, The Message)
With this in mind, I’m preparing for an important writers conference next month. Writers are a tribe with similar quirks, but we each have our own unique calling, our own voice, and our own way of crafting words upon the page. We should not attempt to become one another. We should not write like anyone but ourselves.
To prepare myself to hold onto myself, I needed a vivid reminder. And so, I painted my toenails brilliant iridescent sea-green—my favorite color. With toenails the color of the sea, I feel completely like myself, as if I have permission to be me. I know it sounds silly, but my toes remind me of God’s presence in me and his unique design of me. They are like an embrace from Christ himself,
In the winter, only I see my toes. As I prepare to be refined and critiqued by writers more skilled than I, every day when I take off my socks I am reminded that I am unique and precious. This is me, the girl with the green toenails. My toenails speak a message to me:
Be yourself. Be the woman God made you to be. Run the race!
It’s a simple thing, but it reminds me of my firm attachment to Christ. I will receive criticism. I may lose my confidence. I may think I have to become another to succeed. However, Jesus loves me and made me for his purpose.
I will be true to my calling. I will be true to my voice. I am resolved.
What helps you hold onto your individuality, to keep a grasp of yourself, to keep your eyes on Jesus?