Last week I shared about an invitation we’ve been offered to lean into who God’s made us to be and do what He’s created us to do.
Sounds easy right?
My personal experience has proven otherwise.
As I continued thinking this week on this “leaning” idea, I realized it requires one thing of me I hadn’t given an awful lot of thought to before:
I have to stop trying to be like somebody else.
In a world inundated with TV, films, social media and general access to the world through the internet which never used to exist… well, comparing ourselves to others is an unwelcome temptation around almost every corner.
The truth is: I think I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be like somebody else. At some points in my life, I’ve tried being anybody but me. I have felt dissatisfied, empty and unable to embody the confidence, joy and fulfillment I believed others were living out. And in turn, I think I offered the world a faded version of myself, an edited version of myself.
It’s as if I was meant to be an audacious Picasso painting and I’ve been living as though I’m a black and white photo copy of the Mona Lisa.
I’ve treaded lightly, spoken softly and painted my life with only the colors that won’t offend the viewer because deep down there’s been doubt and fear about who I really am. I mean, what if the colors I was meant to paint with are vibrant and meant to cue a response from the viewer?
All of this has led me to a place of realizing living a faded version of myself costs me deeply. It robs me of the vibrancy I know deep in my soul God has made to shine. And living this vibrancy requires that I embrace some of the pieces God’s put inside of me: my sensitivity, creativity and bit of audacity (or “spice” as I call it).
I think it’s actually quite easy to live our life in a kind of faded, muted light. For lots of reasons. Maybe we’re scared to be ourselves because we’ve been hurt. Maybe we’ve been conditioned to believe our worth is of little value. Maybe we’re struggling with deep sadness or depression. Or perhaps there’s an unhealthy relationship or a negative voice we’ve allowed to control us and dampen our souls.
After all, being FULLY ourselves might confirm we’re not enough. Being fully ourselves might present took much risk. Being fully ourselves might mean starting over and getting reacquainted with ourselves.
Even in the midst of these realizations, I’m learning not to judge myself for having lived this way. For living a faded, edited version of myself. For being captured by the fear of rejection or the fear of being not enough.
I know the pain we’ve experienced in life often makes our ways of coping understandable…
So there’s grace. Lots and lots of grace.
I’m practicing seeing myself through the eyes of compassion, speaking to myself tenderly, and asking Jesus what He thinks about me and who He says I am. I’m also learning to say yes to opportunities that offer me safe places to practice shedding my faded, edited way of being. These opportunities can look small to an onlooker – like starting a new hobby, making a new friend, sharing a new opinion or speaking up in a group. But in actuality, even these small steps can be scary.
So don’t diminish the bravery you embody as you practice. Let’s celebrate them instead.
Together we practice… Fail a thousand times over again. Wipe our brow and our tears. We show up once again and we practice.
Over the past few years these ideas have been dawning within me, and one thing I have learned is that ALL of this is a process. None of our self-awareness, healing or spiritual journey happens overnight. I would go as far as to believe we’ve been given our entire lifetime to pursue becoming.
Becoming our true, vibrant selves that God intended to shine.
For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead. And Christ will shine on you.” ~ Ephesians 5:14
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. ~ Psalms 139:14