What’s that cheesy high school poster say, “When will you realize everybody else is already taken, be yourself“? Forgive my paraphrase, but I know it’s something along those lines. I haven’t met a woman yet who doesn’t struggle with being herself at times.
The reason is a two parter: one, we think being someone else would be better and two, we are too scared to figure out who we really are in fear that she might be someone that people don’t like. Of course we might not say that, but isn’t that what our comparison game is all about?
We compare against her social media, her outfit choice, her marriage or single relationship, her parenting and so on and so forth. We are constantly trying to measure ourself up as a game I fear many of us learned as little girls. We all want to be the prettiest, the most desired, the most fun…
We ask ourselves, “What’s she doing?” Oh, I should probably be doing that too. When all along she may be looking at you thinking the same thing. I struggled with this all throughout my teens and 20s. If someone were better than me in an area I would tear them down in my mind, or behind their back with friends.
Is this a safe space, can I admit that?
Of course it’s gotten prettier over the years and as I’ve grown with Lord, but the ugliness of it is all the same.
I wrestled with this thought and idea of, “Who am I?,” and after coming into a relationship with Christ at the age of 20 it only got worse. Personality wise I’ve never really been like “most” girls. I tend to be outspoken, and independent, someone who knows what they want and not afraid to go after it. Stepping on many toes along the way. I would look at the other girls in my college ministry and see them quiet and more docile, ready to submit to the group or a leader at a moment’s notice.
I, on the other hand, just wanted to be that leader.
Years later I would take a Meyers Briggs personality test to find out that I’m categorized as an ENTJ. After a little research, come to find out that less than 1% of all women fall into the ENTJ family. Well, no wonder I’ve always felt like a fish out of water with other women.
So I was bound and determined to soften the rough edges and learn to be like all the other girls. I took a step back, serving behind the scenes, even though I knew I much preferred to be on the stage rather than behind it. I thought to be a good woman who followed Christ I had to be “gentle and quiet” in personality, seen but not heard, submitting to everyone else’s ideas of who I should be. This was an all out war with self, because instead of figuring out who the Father made me to be and what unique gifts I had to share with the community of Christ, I really and truly believed I had to look like the other girls.
Of course, during this season I never really succeeded at being like anyone else, and I didn’t allow the Spirit to show me who I really was. Frustration is the word I would use to describe this time. Looking back now, a little bit older, a little bit wiser, a little more sanctified, I would love to have a conversation with my 22 year old self. It would go something like this:
“Why are you so consumed with looking like the status quo?
Why do you not see that you were created on purpose, with a specific unique plan that only YOU can fulfill in who He made you to be? Do you not know that He is perfect and has called you perfect in Christ?
Sister, you have been called and chosen. You are cheating the body of Christ in who He has made you to be by not developing your unique gift set and using it to further His kingdom. Stop staring at everyone else and stare at Him! Set your gaze rightly where it belongs on the one you were ultimately called to imitate.
Choose holiness, learn holiness with a vigor that makes all other attempts look futile in comparison of the quest for personal holiness. There was no mistake in your creation or personality. Sure there are some personality areas that need to be developed, that need to be more like Him, that you need to allow the dross to consume. Run from sin and run toward the cross. Embrace who you are! Be confident in who you are in a holy way. Help other sisters do the same, because surely you aren’t the only one who struggles.”
Yes, I think it would go something like that. These are things I have learned with time.
So I say now to you sister, you have something so important to bring to your team, your community, your fellowship…and that is simply YOU, in who you were designed to be. Stop looking to the left or the right and look up to the One and only, King of Kings. Encourage one another on this journey; help your sisters press on to develop their gifting even if it’s areas you struggle with. Be thankful for one another and the differences that you see, not in competition.
Choose authenticity with a holy lens. May we all learn to be each other’s biggest fans!
What would you like to tell a younger you?