Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I Can Only Be Me

A quiet voice sometimes whispers in my ear.  It tells me:  You are not good enough.  You will never be good enough.  It doesn't matter at what; it is everything worthwhile, everything that makes me a part of who I am.  You are not funny enough.  Not entertaining when you preach.  Not outgoing enough. Not good enough at mindless small talk.  It taunts me.  Not a good enough wife.  Not a good enough mother.  Not a good enough writer.  Not educated enough.  Not a good enough body.  Not pretty enough.  Not confident enough.  Not in shape enough.  Not a good enough Christian.  You are not good enough.

The day I began writing this post (4/30/12), I saw three posts on three different blogs that related to what I wanted to say.  The first was "The Peril of Measuring Yourself Against Others" by Frank Viola about social media and how it sends us all back to high school, competing for social status.  He writes about how the things that are important, such as changing someone's life and spiritual influence, cannot be measured by Google Analytics, blog and Twitter followers, and Klout (which thinks I am influential about pizza, by the way, so if you want to try a new pizza recipe, I highly recommend this one for Chicken Alfredo Pizza.  Then you can come back and tell me if you like it.  And you can give me some Klout).  

The second post was one by Adam S. McHugh called "I Know Where the Wild Things Are".  He'd tweeted it yesterday, although it had been written in 2011.  He wrote:
"For me, the beasts usually take the form of accusing questions, and the hairy one that shows up the most is this: "Who are YOU to write this?" Who do you think you are, addressing a topic that is way over your head? Who are you to write at all? What do you have to share with the world?"
And, finally, the third post, from Chelsey Doering in "The Five Things Introverts Hate About Church".  Her number one was "you should be more [fill in the blank]" because obviously, you aren't good enough by being yourself.

These three posts all address, in different ways and without really saying it, that we face struggles of not being good enough.  In the writing and blogging world (to which I am a newcomer), I know that I especially face it.  I am not one who pursued writing as a career, and although I love doing it, I am also very insecure about it.  In this new world that I have entered, there are many excellent and well-respected writers, there are many writers who know how to use social media to every advantage, and there are many writers who much better and much more knowledgeable than I am.  For a perfectionist who tends to lean towards also being a know-it-all, this is hard to take.  I don't want to measure myself by my Twitter followers compared to someone else's.  I don't want get discouraged and feel like I am nobody who has nothing to say compared to others.  I don't want to feel like I need to be more [fill in the blank] compared to others.

But I do.

As I kept coming back to the computer to jot down thoughts for this post, as thoughts continued to swirl around in my head as I put dishes away and figured out what I needed to do for dinner, I received an email.  Big deal, right?  I get email all day long.  I saw who it was from and my eyes widened.  A blogger I admire, a published author...and she was reading my blog, had subscribed to my blog, and said she loved my blog.  How exciting!

I felt validated.  I felt good enough.

But isn't this the very thing I wrote about the other day regarding Alice in Wonderland when I said "we can't go through life basing our identities on who other people are".  In the few seconds it took me to read that email, I compared the worth of my identity based on someone else's identity.

Identity is something I've been thinking about lately, because I am at a new place in life and am wondering who and what God is calling me to be and do.  I threw out a question to my friends on Facebook recently and asked them what Bible verses come to mind when they think of "identity in Christ".  The one that I had thought of was 2 Corinthians 5:17 "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!"

I knew that people would have different answers, but I had no idea the number of different verses (you can find them all at the end of this post) that people would relate to about finding their identity in Jesus.  It was beautiful to see the many different facets of identity that these people have.  It is a reminder that just as we are all different in how we are made and who we become in the world, we are also all different in who we are in Christ.

That's kind of complicated to think about though.   Sometimes, it seems, that once one "becomes a Christian", then one has to become like every other Christian out there.  Right beliefs.  Right behaviors.  Right attitudes.  Right way of being a woman.  Right way of being a man.  Right way of being a husband, wife, mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, whatever.

Today, (5/1/12) I read a follow up post by Frank Viola that I mentioned reading yesterday as I was planning this post.  He makes three excellent points about being envious of others:  accept your own worth, you don't know what the person you are envious of is going through, and reassess what you are coveting.  

I especially like the first one, because it references 1 Corinthians 12:21-27.  We are all different.  We all need to be different parts of the body in order for the body to function.  And even body parts that are similar are not the same.  Some eyes are blue, some are brown, some are green.  Some ears stick out, others lie close to the head.  Some hairs are thick and some are thin.  Some fingers are long and slender and others are stubby.  Some feet are narrow and others are wide.  

It's easy to acknowledge that I am gifted differently or am a different part of the body when I am envious of someone who sings well, since I do not.  It's a lot harder to acknowledge that when it comes to something that I do well, such as writing, and I am envious of another writer's way with words or successes because mine are (seemingly) not good enough.

But I don't have to be that person.  I can't be that person.  I can only be me, the me that has been made into a new creation.  And it is good enough.

Do you ever feel as if you are not good enough?  What is your usual response to that voice whispering in your ear?  Do you know who you are?  Do you know who you are in Christ?  

Curious what the verses were in which people found their identity in Christ?  Here they are:

  • John 1:12:  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God
  • John 15:15  I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 
  • 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NRS ) Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we?  You yourselves are our letter, written on our(1 )hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 
  • Galatians 3:25-29   But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian,  for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.  As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise. 
  • Isaiah 43:4a "Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you."
  • Joshua 1:9 "I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
  • Romans 9: 38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord"
  • 1 Timothy 5:12 "Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speecah and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity"
  • Romans 6:5-8 (ESV)  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (NIV)  So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
  • Ephesians 1

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