(Posted on May 13, 2014 on the House of Hope website.)
“All you have to do is be yourself and live the story that no one else can live, the story of your own unique life.”–Unknown
She came in shyly, beautiful dark eyes pleading for encouragement and truth. Tell me I’m OK. I feel like I can’t do this perfectly. I get overwhelmed. If I mess up I’m tempted to just give up and forget the whole thing! Why is it so hard?
I smile recognizing the pull of perfectionism and the lure of quitting when it gets hard. Why is it so hard to just be yourself and to have grace for yourself when things don’t go as planned?
I’m not sure when the lie crept into my thinking as it does into many women’s thinking. At some point I concluded that I was not as “good” as other people. Very true in some ways – I couldn’t sing as well as others in the select choir. I couldn’t run as fast as the other runners in gym class. I didn’t know how to write as well as many students in English class and my speeches were not all that great. Someone was always better. But somehow I let this thought go deeper. It became so deep that even the things I did well dimmed as being not good enough.
So when my beautiful young friend confided in her fears about not fitting in, not being comfortable with herself, with feeling lesser-than in so many ways. I smiled. I’ve been there. Sometimes I still am.
But our conversation kept coming back to…what is the truth about who we are? Is it OK for me to be me? Is it good what God has given us? Is there an unwritten rule that we have to be different from who we are? Would we be happier if we were someone else? What changes would make us “arrive” at being ourselves and make us satisfied? What would it take to still the condemning voices in our heads?
A place to start would be to determine what God thinks of us.
Isaiah 41:9 “…I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Psalm 62:5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
I have come to a few conclusions, born out of the above scriptures and good teaching, reading, listening, praying, talking and searching.
It is OK to be me. It is OK for you to be you. That actually is preferable! It is OK to not be perfect. It is OK to make mistakes. It is OK to be shy. It is OK. Each of us has one life to live. And I want to fully live that life because it is the only one I’ve got and it is the one God gave me. I will waste no more time comparing myself to anyone else because such comparisons don’t work.They aren’t equal. We are all unique and we all differ in our abilities.
So my young friend and I need to continually go back to what God says. He created us. He loves us with delight. We can trust him and live fully the life he has given. This truth is superior to anything we could ever wish for.