I feel like everyone is watching me.
It is as if every area of my life has now become a topic for judgement. What stores do I shop at? Wouldn’t it be better to shop at the open market? My parenting, my language, my cooking (I mean, do you eat the national food or not and how often?), my furniture, my pets and whether or not I have AC units in my home have all become added pressures that leave me feeling like a failure.
I am having to re-learn who I am in this new context, with these new pressures, as my foundation shakes beneath me.
Am I doing this right?
Am I hardcore enough?
Am I failing?
I am finding that this pursuit and need I have for acceptance leads me to hide myself. I don’t want to talk too much or reveal too much to those around me, whether to teammates, nationals or fellow expats, in fear of rejection and disapproval, I try to hide my opinions and feelings, even from myself, and it has left me asking the question:
Who am I?
Who we are matters! It matters because God has chosen to use our lives, as unique and different as they are, to reveal himself to the world. God has given to us a history, he has given to us a story, he has given to us conviction, he has given to us personality and who we are is so intrinsically tied to his purposes.
Yet here on the field, it becomes easy to believe that there is the perfect way to live and reach people in our unique contexts. We either believe that we hold the key to cultural contextualization or we attempt to alter our life to fit into another expat’s mold. One size fits all. But if we spend our lives trying to fit into someone else’s ill-fitting shoes we will be disappointed because God didn’t make us someone we are not.
We are to be a witness of Christ in the truth of who we are. It is through the revelation of God’s grace and work in us, that others see Christ Jesus for what he brings. Much like the woman at the well in John 4, whose city believed because of her personal interaction with Christ’s grace, we also must bear witness to Christ for what grace we have experienced first-hand. It wasn’t in spite of who she was that her testimony bore witness to Christ but because of who she was that her testimony bore such a powerful witness of grace and love.
Don’t hide yourself like I have, if you hide yourself, you hide Christ also. Remember, your life is not your own, it belongs to Christ to use as he designed it. He doesn’t expect you to be someone you are not, in fact, he loves you to be exactly as he made you.
I’m finding that the only way that I can release myself from the pressure of living in and for the expectations of others is by accepting who I am, as I am, as a woman that God has made and chosen for a specific purpose. I am to be just as he has created me and chosen me to be.
In this process of accepting myself for who God made me to be, I can then extend acceptance and affirmation to those around me whose ideas, convictions and personalities differ (or conflict) with mine. It’s not a competition. We each have our part to play in God’s work to bring his own to himself. It is an essential part, one that he chose us to play, and built us to accomplish.
Have you found yourself hiding bits of who you are to fit in?
What do we do or say to others that perpetuates the judgement cycle?
How can we break that cycle?