The Art of Finding Yourself

Sometimes we look in all the wrong places trying to find who we really are.

I know I have.

I’ve spent the better part of my 38 years trying to squeeze myself into a form or shape I was never created to be.  I bet some of you might relate at least a little. It’s a bit like trying to be an identity contortionist. We might learn a lot in the process but we’ll ultimately wind up all tied up in knots.

(And yes that is my real age. Every single year has been a hard won victory and a gift of grace, so I’m not shy about celebrating ALL 38 of them!)

I have tried to make myself over to fulfill other people’s expectations, trying to filter who I am to better fit organizational narratives, desperately wanting to find the place I fit in. The group that can be a home. The place where I belong. Where I can settle in and say, “I’m with them” or “I’m a part of that”.

There is only one problem with all that squishing and squeezing and shaving off the edges of my identity.  I was never created to fit in like that. Neither were you.

God made each of us an original. To try and become otherwise just to find a place to belong would be to downgrade what Jesus paid for.

I will never find who I most fully am by looking at the world or the people around me. Neither will you. We aren’t supposed to. But unfortunately there are few places that nurture you to be you in Jesus. Prayerfully, that will change.

Finding who we really are in Who He is is an art form and a life journey. We truly find ourselves only when we are willing to lose who we think we are supposed to be.

When I had to relocate to the USA in 2013 leaving behind my family in South Sudan, it was the profound death of a dream on so many levels.  It has been 2+ years walking out of the valley of it’s shadow. In the process of losing most everything I held dear, I also lost all the externals I defined myself by. 

And that was a beautiful, terrifying, gut-wrenching, amazing gift in very distressing disguise.

Relationships. Affiliations. Roles. Job descriptions. Location. Expectations. Organizational narratives. Success. Future vision. Plans. All gone.  Some for a season, some period.  I had no idea so many of those things informed and shaped who I believed myself to be.

What I didn’t know when I was eyeball deep in searing loss was what I would find when the flood waters receded: Freedom.

Freedom just to be me in Jesus.  Not defined by a ministry role or an organizational affiliation or spiritual score card. Just me. In Him. Grateful for the tribe of friends He brings along for each stage of the journey.  Knowing I can’t look for a model to follow other than Jesus because it doesn’t exist.

All the changes that you have watched unfold here in this little corner of cyberspace have really been a travelogue of me finding myself in deeper ways. From the Unpaved Road transitioned into Bravely You {because becoming who we really are in Him might be the bravest journey of all} which grew into Illustrated Grace.

It is my hope and prayer that me embracing my journey will give you courage to say yes again to your own.

Jesus created each of 100% original. To settle for being an imitation is to live so far below what He desires to give us. We find who we most fully are when we are free to most fully abandon ourselves to His heart.

You DO belong beloved.  Right in the center of His embrace. If you have been frustrated with never quite fitting in, perhaps it is because you were trying to fit in to the wrong places, like I was. We DO fit. Every one of us. Perfectly shaped to fit into His heart. Everything else will follow.