I used to think of my life purpose as a job. It was my job to be Christ to the world. It was my job to support, encourage, comfort, and edify those around me. But God didn’t just create me to do a job, He created me to be a person––a unique individual that no one else is or can be. He created me to be me.
“What good is it for a person to gain the whole world and yet lose their very self?”
Jesus said that to live, we must die. And people often seem to think that means God wants to make us clones, to kill our individuality. It’s actually the opposite. God wants to make us fully alive––the full, unique, beautiful versions of ourselves He designed. However, becoming those beautiful people requires DEATH to our way of thinking and living.
The only way to be the best version of you is to surrender control.
“Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most “natural” men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.”– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I used to be a “good girl” who focused too much on the expectations of others. I felt obligated to live a certain way, to say certain things, and make certain sacrifices. But as I’ve realized that I’m not obligated, that I have a choice, I have simultaneously realized that taking responsibility for my choices is a little scary.
I can no longer blame God, the church, my parents, or anyone else for my decisions. I have to own them.
That is scary because there will always be people who don’t like the choices I make or who won’t understand why I’m doing what I am. I don’t like conflict, or being misunderstood. But I’m learning to live in that tension. It’s not my job to make everyone happy; it’s my job to be me. Not the selfish, self-indulgent version of myself. Not whatever box others have put me in. But the real me, the me that God designed.
A few months ago, God told me, In order to fulfill the role I designed for you, in order to play the part I wrote for you in My Story, you must be the complete, unabridged YOU. You must be bold and courageous enough to be completely yourself. Do you understand?
Trembling, I told God I did.
I think God had to speak so strongly to me about this need to be myself, because my natural tendency is to be others-focused. I want to take care of everyone around me, I want to make sure everyone else is okay. And while that’s not a bad impulse, for me it sometimes comes from a place of fear. It is easier to focus on others’ desires than my own (and then be disappointed). It is easier to take care of other people than to expect anyone to take care of me.
Sometimes I try to lose myself in the needs of others. But that’s not what God is calling me to do. God is calling me to lose myself in Him.
God is love and God’s greatest priority is people, so losing myself in God will often look like loving other people, taking care of them, and looking after their needs. But not always. As I’ve been on this journey of introspection this year, as I’ve been learning to separate myself from the needs of others, I’ve found a stronger boundary line around myself. And I’ve realized that boundary is crucial.
That boundary allows me to give of myself with joy.
It’s actually not about us at all. And that truth is what gives us the boldness to unashamedly be ourselves. We don’t do it for self-gratification or recognition; we do it as an act of obedience––a beautiful one.
We don’t define who we are, God does. The better we lose ourselves in seeking after God, the more like ourselves we will become and the more God will be glorified. In the end, our true selves are all reflections of God. Each one of us holds a different piece of the whole, beautiful picture.
The world needs you to be you. The true you. The you that God designed. How familiar you are with that true self depends on how closely connected you are to God. But as you grow more acquainted with that person, I encourage you to be bold. Learn to fight off the demands that are not from God, because as much as the world, other people, and your own inner drive may clamor for you to be or do certain things, what we all really need is for you to be faithful to God. We are all longing to see the reflection of God’s face that only you can reveal.