I’ve recently found myself facing MYSELF–who am I? Really? Apart from relationships. Agendas aside and cameras off. What do I like? What’s my “calling?” What’s my communication style? How do I cope? What annoys me? And why on earth am I so indecisive?
I’ll never forget my first identity crisis. It was so blatantly obvious it blew up in my face and triggered a meltdown that took me months to come out of. It was my first semester at CFNI, I had just broken up with my boyfriend and was perfectly content on my own. My best friend, Cara bravely stood by me as I began a three-day saga of finding, choosing and purchasing the perfect new camera. My previous one had broken and I needed a new one. I’m picky, like to spend my money well and don’t settle for cheap. So, it was clear that poor Cara had her work cut out for her.
Sure, you may laugh at this, but to me, it was a big deal. I don’t like to splurge but I’m big on quality “more bang for your buck” kind of purchases. Six stores, a gabazillion price comparisons, one-hundred-something online customer reviews, and three store reps later; I narrowed all of my options down to two cameras; A sleek black one, or a slightly chubbier pink one. Both at the same store: Best Buy had lived up to its name. But I was torn. Here I was, trying to make a decision and I just couldn’t seem to decide. My stubborn indecisiveness refused to take the day off. Discouraged and frustrated with myself, we finally left—without purchasing so much as a camera case.
Three days later, I went back. This time, I was determined to leave the building with a slightly lighter wallet and the perfect camera in hand. I bee-lined it to the camera section but my determination wasn’t enough to cancel out my indecisiveness. I quickly found myself begging a 40-something year old rep to just make the decision for me. Not because his taste was anything like mine (I’m quite sure of this) but because I just didn’t want to be responsible for making the “wrong decision”.
This older man looked me in the eyes and asked a simple, uncomplicated and perfectly ordinary question, “What do you want—why can’t you just pick one?” This question prompted the most painfully transparent answer that shocked even me. I replied, “Because I’ve always had a boyfriend to tell me what I should do because I can’t decide for myself. I just broke up with my boyfriend and now I don’t know what to do. I feel lost.” A flood of tears quickly followed. Here I was, water works on full blast and causing a scene in the middle of Best Buy. Not because I was heartbroken, but because I realized I hadn’t allowed myself to choose independently from anyone else.
I had gone the previous six years always having a boyfriend. They came and went, but I always had someone help me form and direct my “opinions”. My mind immediately began to recall all of the things I thought I “liked”. The Boston Red Sox- for one. Did I even like them? No! I could care less! Steak? I don’t even like steak, as a matter of fact, I hate steak!
Sadness started to diminish as anger began to rise within me. “WHO IN THE WORLD AM I?” was stuck on repeat and screaming in my head. I felt like I had amnesia as I realized that a lot of my personality and preferences had been shaped by those who I had allowed in my life. I was so overwhelmed, the only thing I could settle in my mind was that I loved God, missed my family and dog, and liked pink.
As I’m writing this, one of my good girlfriends recently broke up with her boyfriend of six years. Their relationship was the definition of serious. They had settled down and made a home for themselves, but after a turn of events it was made clear that they were headed in different directions. After their split, she expressed her despair about this new-found identity crisis. “I don’t know who I am, what to do, or how to live. Even the stupidest things get to me. Right down to toilet paper. Extra soft or ultra strong? I feel like I can’t decide anything on my own independent from him.”
What happened to us? How did we get here? How have we allowed others to determine who we were for so long—even after they’re long gone? Where is God in us? How did He originally design and intend for us to be. What are our heart’s deepest desires? Ultimately; who are we and what do we want?
It baffles me how easy it is to pick up a burden that wasn’t ever ours to begin with. I have a favorite pair of tennis shoes. Everyone knows they’re my favorite because, despite my four other pairs, I always wear my white and pink Nike’s. Last week, I was at the gym when my right foot started to fall asleep. My first reaction was to be annoyed with myself. You see, my left foot is 1/4 size bigger than my right foot (yes, I know—it’s embarrassing). I was immediately flustered. My stupid foot! Why couldn’t it have just grown enough to at least match the other? I thought to myself, “over my dead body am I going to solve this little problem by purchasing two different sized tennis shoes.” Not everything is about comfort. I would just suck it up and deal with the pain.
I sat down to loosen my shoe and give my foot some breathing room. Then I realized it. For the past three years, I’ve been putting on, wearing, walking, and running in these shoes. While all this time, the right shoe wasn’t fully laced. After purchasing this preferred pair, I had failed to lace four of the loopholes. They were tied wrong. All wrong. To my dismay, my feet weren’t the issue. As a matter of fact, the problem wasn’t me at all—it was what I was putting on. Instead of examining my footwear, I had mistakenly blamed it on myself.
How many times do we wear, take, or own something that isn’t ours to begin with. We blame ourselves for not being outgoing enough, funny enough, witty enough, extroverted enough, quiet enough, smart enough, pretty enough, articulate enough, educated enough. While all the while, we aren’t meant to take it on. Have we been trying to wear something that’s all wrong to begin with? What, who and where on earth is the real me? The undone, unmasked, untainted Rachel?
To be honest with you, I’m still discovering me. Everyday is an adventure. I have no idea who I am in myself. I find myself in Jesus Christ. Apart from Him I am entirely lost. Aside from His love, I am messed up, severely fragmented and desperately damaged. But He completes me and reveals who I am in Him. I’m confident that I’m growing into the person that He has called me to be. I am by no means perfect, I’m simply striving to be what He had in mind when He created me—And no human being on earth can define that for me. So, take everything other than Him off. He completes me. You can run and tell that.
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish.” Philippians 1:6 (The Msg)