Today, this was read at our church council meeting.
I’m not sure why the person chose to use this particular submission today – especially since this piece was from 2015. But for some reason, the winds of the Holy Spirit were in motion, and I needed to hear something. As she continued to read this devotional at the meeting, tears were streaming down my face.
How do I become someone I’m not? I’m so, so tired trying to be I suppose this has been a question almost 45 years in the making. From the time we are young, we are conditioned to “fit in.” Our consumerist culture encourages us to want what our neighbors have. The visible lives of our friends seem so ideal compared to what we have, yet we do not know their challenges.
To me, my life seems scattered, second-tier and, in many ways, pathetic. I hold myself up to the world’s standards, and I see only my shortcomings.
My gifts and accomplishments, on the other hand, were missing from my view. I’m probably harder on myself than others are on me. But for me my shortcomings are front and center – staring me in the face – as to poke fun at the gifts I lack.
What I forget is that all of you have shortcomings as well – they may just be a bit different than mine. And all of you have gifts as well – they may also be a bit different than mine.
Then there are the times when I wish I could have the talents and interests of the people closest to me. I’ve spent almost 45 years trying to fit this square peg into a round hole. The work of conforming and remodeling ourselves to fit others’ expectations becomes exhausting. At some point of our lives, we no longer have the energy to mold ourselves to their liking. At some point, we must just become ok with who we are.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to work on our shortcomings. But we need to stop being so hard on ourselves because of them. I am not good at everything. (Obviously) I am NOT good at everything. I will never be. At nearly 45 years old I need to come to terms that I am not good at every single task, and I am not interested in accomplishing everything.
But here is what I need to do:
First of all, I need to ask for help for my growing edges. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. (For people like me who struggle asking for help, I’ll repeat myself: there is nothing wrong asking for help.) Because I am not talented in every aspect of life, this means that some activities will not come easy to me. As humans and children of God, we are called to work together to use our gifts to assist others who struggle.
Secondly, there are some gifts I do not have. I will never have these gifts. I will never be a talented singer, be a star of a movie, hike Kilimanjaro, skydive, or a number of other things. And I am becoming fine with this.
Third, it’s time for me to begin focusing on the ways I excel and where I want to invest in my passions. Forty-five is not old. But it is the beginning of life’s second act. God is calling me to use whatever energy I may have to strengthen this world and the people within it. I am gifted at artwork, marketing and writing. I no longer need to explain away how I will never be a triathlon competitor, raw sushi connoisseur and lover of Tarantino films.
Like this devotion, it’s time for me and all of us to be firm in who we are. Psalm 139 reminds us that this is who God created me to be. This. Here and now. I am gifted and flawed. I have ways that I can still grow. I hold in my heart many things I still want to accomplish. But I am Michelle. I have been for 45 years, and I will be for the remainder of my life. I must live in my own skin and with my own mind.
As the devotional says: “we can confidently live as the people God created us to be.” How liberating it is for each of us to claim that reality! No longer do I have to live as others expect me to live. This is who I am – made by God in the image of God.