“If I were you, I’d be somebody else.” This bit of wisdom was profoundly stated by my 5 and a half year old in a song he was spontaneously creating. This “calebism” sets me to laughing just about every time I have repeated it. For him it was an innocent literal observation. For those of us listening with an adult ear, it was a statement loaded with both the truth and a possible critique. Tonight at dinner I repeated it in a conversation and he said, “Hey why did you steal that from me?” We all laughed and I assured him I have given him credit for it.
Laughing aside, the matter of letting the true me emerge is huge. A few months ago I really enjoyed how the movie Akeelah and the Bee addressed the conflict we face internally and externally in fully enjoying and releasing what we do well. But don’t be confused, its not just an issue of what we are going to produce. Great lasting product in our relationships and life grows from strengths in our character. A poem quoted and adapted in the film illustrates the fear that must be conquered by other aspects of our character and the general longing that exists among us.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
– by Marianne Williamson
A Christian world-view compels me to believe that the true me can only be ultimately and most profoundly created, uncovered, and sustained in an on-going dynamic life with Jesus Christ. For example, many phrases in the book of Colossians lead me to seek my true identity in Christ.
- “He has rescued us and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 1:13-14
- “All things were created by him and for him.” Col 1:15-16
- “He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” Col 1:22
- “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col 1:27
- “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.’ Col 2:6-7
- “You have been given fullness in Christ.” Col 2:9
- “God made you alive with Christ.” Col 2:13
- “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Col 3:3
- “You have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Col 3:10
- “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col 3:17
A common misunderstanding in the matter of being who God would have us be in Christ is built around our dismay or perhaps even disdain of some aspect of who we are in the realms of our physical, emotional, mental, social, or cultural sense of personhood. I don’t believe most of us are simply critical of others. WE are critical of ourselves. WE wish that we were somebody else. I meet people regularly who seem to be “uncomfortable in their own skin.” Well, I’m like that sometimes and in some settings. And what I’ve discovered is that I have some unreconciled matter with me and God. Perhaps I’ve not yet seen His redemptive power at work; perhaps I have some longing or expectation that is unfilled and so lay blame or find fault with myself or the many sources that have shaped me over the years.
I am learning to use that “dis-ease” as a moment of discover and adventure into God’s grace and Jesus’ redemptive and recreative work. I am most able to forget about myself when I sense in every situation that I am rightly enjoying and participating in the Kingdom of Jesus right here and now. Then I’m able to abandon the wish that I was somebody else for genuine acceptance that I am the Father’s deeply loved child simply by the virtue of God Himself expressed through Jesus. It is no wonder then that Jesus says to grown men and women, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Luke 18:2-4) Jesus lived like this all the time. His dependency on the Father was not his weakness but his strength. HIs ability to hear the Father’s affirmation, “This is my Son, whom I love” set the course for his life and ministry. That is the love and truth Jesus invites us to live in.