I remember being in high school and constantly hearing adults telling me and other girls my age, “Be yourself.”
At times I got almost paralyzed by the idea. How did I know who I really was? How did I know that I wasn’t just faking myself out? How did I know that I wasn’t being helplessly shaped by my environment?
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As an adult, I’ve stayed far away from that question. There have been so many other things to learn and grow in. However, it still plagues me on occasion, especially in my current season of hearing so much talk about “loosing yourself” in motherhood: the warnings about how not to, the encouragment to dive in headfirst, and everything in between.
A few weeks ago, as the first showers of a rainstorm caught me on a morning walk, I pondered again this frustrating question.
How do I simply be myself? How do I know who I really am?
As the rain fell and I scurried through the gathering drops, it hit me that the answer had been in front of me the whole time. The answer was there, just presenting itself as the answer to other questions, to other needs.
There are two different version “my truest self” I could find, and it’s up to me to decide which it will be.
I can give in to my every whim and desire and curiosity and become the fullest manifestation of my own sinful, broken self possible. Or I can spend all my energies and passions pursuing Jesus, growing close to His heart, seeking to know Him, and allowing His perfect knowing of me to reveal in me who He ultimately created me to be.
My truest self isn’t one predefined destiny that I need to search out from some hidden space deep inside me.
My truest self isn’t a destiny written on the stars that will take some epic journey to discover.
My truest self isn’t waiting at the end of a spiritual retreat designed to bring me into better touch with myself or nature or the universe.
My truest self can be found, but it will be found by the very real and practical life choices that I make every single day.
My truest self is who I am and who I choose to become, who I allow myself to become.
My truest self is either the me I become by indulging my every desire or the me I become by laying down my desires to follow Christ as He makes me into the woman He designed me to be.
Will I pursue becoming the truest version of my own sinful nature, or will I pursue becoming the truest version of who God created me to be?
Will I shoulder the responsibility for choosing the path my life takes, or will I allow myself to be batted along by every whim and fantasy I encounter?
Will I lay down myself – my own sinful desires – and instead put on Christ, trusting that His version of me is the very best version of me there could ever be?
Will I choose to follow Jesus even when it feels like loosing myself, knowing that only by loosing myself will I find all I ever needed and wanted in Him?
I hope you’ll hear my heart in this. I hope you’ll hear the words God spoke to my heart that morning a few weeks ago. I hope you’ll ask God to speak these truths into your heart.
I hope you’ll see that who God created you to be for His glory is worth far more than any other version of yourself you might be able find. I hope I will this. And continue to see this.
Because the truth is, sometimes this path will feel like just the opposite.
It will feel like dying to yourself. It will feel like laying aside your natural desires and instincts. It will feel like abandoning yourself. It may even, for seasons, feel like saying goodbye to your deepest passions and dreams.
Jesus even told us this in Matthew 10:39.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
In the end we will find that abandoning ourselves for His glory will lead us to know Him and then ourselves in a way we could never have found on our own.
In the end laying down our lives will look like gaining the richest, fullest, most real version of ourselves. A version better than we could ever dream or imagine, because this is the version dreamed up by our Creator on the day He first thought of us.
It might just take till heaven for us to fully see it. But I truly believe that what we do see while still here on this earth of who He is creating us to be will take our breath away in all the best ways.