Thursday, February 25, 2016

Being Okay With Who I Am: So Long, Doubt. Hello, Freedom.

I've come to a place in life where I'm okay with who I am. Not everyone can say this, I know. So I want to share a little bit about how I got here. 

For the majority of my life, I camouflaged myself to blend in.  I kept fairly quiet and smiled a lot, trying not to create a fuss.  Making myself as easy to get along with as possible, I never wanted to be anyone's enemy.  It was my self-protecting social tactic, which actually saved me a lot of drama throughout my school years. But it led to years of identity crisis.

My greatest motivator was to be liked.  I was (and still am, at times) a Grade A people pleaser.

All that I can point back to as a reason for this, is a combination of being a first-born child, as well as, growing up with divorced parents. I was happiest when others were happy with me- my teachers, my family, my friends. 

Unfortunately, the moods and opinions of others are hardly a reliable anchor for your self-esteem. It's probably safe to assume that everyone usually has their own best interest in mind, which can lead to those confusing thoughts that swirl around: Wait, why don't they agree with me?  Why haven't they called? Why do they talk to me that way? 

And then a crazy cycle ensues: I feel secure when others affirm me. When their presence or encouragement is absent, I feel insecure. I attempt to make things right or find another source of confidence, only to find my worth in the same unpredictable good graces of the people around me.

Then I am back to where I started:
Not knowing who I am, apart from what others think of me.  Always trying to prove to myself and to others that I was somebody.  But I was a mirage- a glimmer of who I wanted to be. Not solid, settled, or grounded.

Can anyone relate?

That all changed when, at a particularly low point a few years ago, a sweet woman I met in counseling asked me questions that stopped my unhealthy thought patterns:

Who ARE you?  Are you who THEY say you are?  Are you who you THINK you are? Or are you who GOD says you are?

It all comes down to what you believe.  And sometimes, you don't even realize the lies you've accepted as truth, until you're forced to take a really hard look at yourself. No matter how you FEEL, "the truth will set you free." 

The truth is that:
You are not alone.
You are loved and accepted.
You are valuable.

In the Bible, reminding yourself of what God promises, is what we call "renewing our minds." It doesn't get easy to re-train old habits, until you've practiced the good ones. Over and over, choose to believe that God has a plan and purpose for you- that no part of your personality or your story is useless. Don't waste precious time treading the waters of doubt.

We are living, growing people.  That means that we weren't meant to stay the same or burrow underground in fear.  We are always in a state of becoming.

Be okay with your areas of weakness, because it causes you to connect with friends who help you become stronger.  And your strengths (yes, you have them), can help someone else. All of these combined, make you more dependent on your Maker, which lets His glory and power shine through you. 

I once believed that I had nothing to offer. My constant need to be approved by others and the endless amount of comparing my abilities, brought me down to a place of hopeless anxiety.  I never, EVER want to go back there. 

Questioning myself and my worth is a dark and paralyzing place.
Knowing who I am and being at peace with who I am becoming, is light and freedom.

So when I hear a friend doubting herself, I have an immediate urge to grab the largest mirror and verbally re-create the image that she sees.  You ARE beautiful!  You are SO talented!  You are NOT crazy!  Believe me!  Believe God!
"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Eph. 2:10)."
When you know who you truly are, it's like waking up from a bad dream. It's a sigh of relief. It's realizing, I'm okay.

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