Before the bad air from the California wildfires changed how we spend time outdoors, I would run the uphill course from my house toward downtown. Running is not as easy as it used to be–when high school and college races kept me busy every week. And doing a workout inspired by an app on my phone can feel a lot less daunting than suffering the aching hips and the weight of my body, sluggish and heavy, trying to defeat gravity one step at a time.
Running, for me, can be hard. And inconvenient. And–when I’m not yet in shape–painful. But I feel like myself when I do it–like the girl in her dad’s orchard, running between the almond trees, like the woman who wants to listen for God’s voice and have it propel each move she makes.
What we choose to do with our time reveals to us more than just what we love and what we hate to do. What we choose to do with our moments, our days, indicates our response to God’s blueprint when He made us–our living out who we are, who God made us to be. When we say yes to do the things we are made to do, things we do that bring us joy and help us feel the joy of God, in us, we are making the choice to be ourselves.
Why do we spend so much of our days, our weeks, our years, desiring to be anything–or anyone–different?
This is something I continue to think about over the years: what it might mean to more intentionally seek to be only myself. How do I choose to do only things that make me feel the most myself? How do I say no to the temptation to strive to be anything or anyone else?
I consider God whispers to my heart: how can I be more myself–just myself, perfectly myself–in every choice I make, in each decision that comes, in how I use my time?
What do you do to feel most like yourself?
I realize how tired I am trying to be someone other than whom I’ve been created to be: envy and insecurity sneaks in like gray fog curling quietly around my heart. There are so many moments I have trouble seeing, I have trouble feeling free. When Paul urges the Galatians to stand up for the freedom they have already been given, in Christ, I realize how often I let myself feel just the opposite of free.
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you (Galatians 5:1, MSG).
This has been my harness for much of my life: I look at what I don’t have rather than what I have. I look at what I am bad at rather than what I am good at and what I love to do. When we wish we were more organized, more creative, more productive, more talented, more intelligent (and on and on), we’re blind to who we really are. We’re blind to what Christ wants to show us; we’re deaf to God’s whispers to our hearts.
The biggest problem with feeling insecure about ourselves is the very focus on ourselves and our own deficiencies. (What a waste of time! What a waste of a life! What a waste of freedom!) The point of our lives isn’t to focus on how we need to improve. The point of our life is to love Jesus with our whole heart–and to love others, too.
And because we have Jesus right here, we have nothing in the way of living the free life of being ourselves, with Jesus, right now. Can I believe this? Can I choose to focus on who I am in Christ rather than the lies of what I am not?
Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him (2 Corinthians 3:18, MSG).
Christ’s freedom, in our lives, is wasted, when we don’t live, fully, as the person God created us to be.
We are only free, we are only experiencing Christ’s freedom, when we love Christ and the Holy Spirit in us is the voice we listen to above all other voices. The voice telling us we should feel anxious, afraid, nervous, envious, greedy, lustful, impatient, critical, judgmental, unkind is the voice that needs to be silenced in our lives. Only Jesus–only choosing to love Him and let Him show us who we are in Him–will take our eyes off the imperfections in ourselves and focus on the perfection of Him. And His perfection and goodness will inspire us to live the freedom that is always there for us to experience and live.
I think I’m going to keep thinking about this–but do more than just think about it, too. But first, I want to think about my God and how He loves me. I know He is going to help me, with everything I am, to love Him back. He tells me I have what it takes. And then freedom, I bet, is going to be pretty amazing.
You have what it takes, too. So do something today that makes you feel like yourself–no one else. Because there are freedom and joy and a whole lot of good stuff coming our way–that’s right here. Sister, let’s not miss it.
What is one thing that makes you feel like you? What is that one thing you can do today?
And will you join me for the Loop Poetry Project this week? How about we write a poem that speaks to the investigation of our identity: a poem that explores when we feel most free, most ourselves, most unencumbered, most true. Or, of course, write a poem that explores the opposite. When do you feel most trapped, most broken, most despised, most sad?
It is an honor to read your words. Please consider sharing your poem in the comments below–or with the kind community of Loop Poetry Project. Join here.
To Love Oneself
I go to find you in the depths of me
as if that is a place to go
while I examine all the moments
of my life as if they are puzzle pieces
cut jaggedly from the whole, belonging unsure.
I want to cup the pieces in one hand,
run a finger over the rough edges,
sing lullabies to smooth their irregular shapes.
Maybe here we find home.
Maybe here we learn to be kind.