This is not a very clean write, but it is real and so, so raw. This is where I am at right now, and I want my writing to reflect that.
I hate admitting to being lost. To be uncertain, afraid, and very unaware of where I am going. Completely void of identity and totally empty-handed.
For some reason, right now, that’s exactly where I am supposed to be. Because to be filled I have to be emptied first.
I have been slowly stripped of everything I thought defined me. And I mean completely. Everything has been stripped away.
“I am organized.” Every week for the last 2 months I spend hours trying to figure out where to put the piles of clothes on my floor and trying to find my keys because everything is so messy.
“I am in a relationship.” Nope.
“I am genuine.” I don’t think I’ve ever been so petty or prideful or felt so like an impostor. At any moment, I feel like someone is going to come up and take off some mask that I’m wearing, revealing just how uncomfortably hypocritical and tarnished my soul is.
“I am good at school.” I’m having a lot of trouble finding motivation to do anything and am not understanding.
“I am spiritually healthy.” I have never struggled so much with getting into prayer and the Word.
“I am creative.” I compare everything I do to other people.
“I am a good singer.” I severely strained my vocal chords 3 months ago and still can’t sing like I could before.
There are so many more “I am” statements like that.
There is nothing wrong with any of those statements – it’s not bad to be organized, in a relationship, genuine, smart, healthy spiritually, creative, or singing well. In fact, all of those things are very good. Except that the way I was stating them starts with “I am”.
“I am” what?
I am these things?
In all of those statements, I’m just trying to prove that I am good enough by defining myself by things I thought I was exceptionally good at.
If I am my spiritual health, as long as it’s really good and full of good feelings, I’ll be fine. Well, I’m dissociating a lot right now, so there’s not a lot of feeling going on.
If I am my genuineness, people will like me and I’m struggling to be real.
If I am my relationship, I can just work really hard to make the other person happy and try to do the same thing for myself, but sometimes things don’t work out, and then where does my identity go?
If I am organized, I can just cope with things by making sure everything looks neat and tidy, including my life on the outside, but what does it mean when I’m having breakdowns in my car, where no one can see, and then reapplying makeup to my tear-streaked, face so no one can see how I’m struggling.
If I am smart, when I can’t figure something out, I feel stupid and ashamed – I live from a place of lack.
If I am creative, when my writing isn’t what I want or I do a photoshoot that I don’t love or I’m not booking as many clients as the next guy, I think that maybe I’m not good at what I do. Maybe I am not cut to be a creative because I feel so behind.
If I sing, when everything doesn’t soun
d perfect, if I don’t get affirmation, I tear myself down. Did you know I use my voice to get attention? That’s pretty pathetic – I have so little confidence that I am good enough just because God loves me, so I try to use gifts He’s given me to create value. How’s that for a confession about not understanding my identity?
And you know what? When defining myself by these things, all the joy I have in engaging in them is taken away because I’m just is a cycle of proving that I’m good enough. Because instead of worshipping with my voice like I love to do, I’m wondering if the person next to me thinks I sing well. I’m wondering if people are impressed by how put together I am. I’m wondering if I’m going to be affirmed as good enough today. In preaching grace, I practice legalism.
The cry of my life lately hasn’t been “Living loved and loving well”, it has been a strained shout of, “I AM GOOD ENOUGH! DON’T YOU SEE IT?!”
Trying to desperately get a response that determines my value for the day as at least sub-par.
Because I cannot, for the life of me, get to a point where I genuinely understand how I should be defined.
I have heard sermon after sermon, song after song, read book after book, about identity. And I do not understand it. I cannot get the message of my identity into my heart.
And as much as I want to say that I’ve learned to live in my true identity—“I am a child of God”— it’s honestly a kind of cliché thing to say at this point, and I don’t even really know what that means. I am in identity crisis mode.
I am totally hollowed out. The only thing I have to define myself by is God. I’m holding on to that so hard right now. Because I don’t know what it even means, but He does, and that’s all I’ve got.
That’s all I’ve got.
I wrote this in my journal earlier today: “I think I’ve been running around this whole time wondering how to feel and get closer to God – and He’s just been patiently holding my hand while I am frantically looking down at my own work to try a figure it out.”
I forgot He was holding my hand. This whole time I have thought that I was far from grace and had to work to earn my way back into a place where I felt near to Him. And the whole time He was like, “Look up! I’m literally holding your hand! I am so close to you.” But I was so distracted by looking down. Pride has been eating me up.
“In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasureably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
– C.S. Lewis –
I was constantly looking down at my morality and other people and thinking that at least I’m better than them and in the next moment trying to look up and lift my hands, recognize my short comings in the presence of a very big God, and I couldn’t because I am that unable to turn away from my own perspective. Because not only did I define myself by all the “I am” statements listed above, I also defined myself by this one: “I am better.”
Better than everyone else. More spiritually mature (which is completely ridiculous because I struggle to pray or read my Bible for longer than 5 minutes), more put together because I always try to “look nice”, and so many other things, and I have lost what it means to get on my knees in the dirt with other people because I thought I was above that. And I can’t believe how holier-than-though I have been. Maybe no one else could tell, but the story I relate to the most is the one in John 8 with the woman caught in adultery. And I couldn’t figure out why that story always hit my heart so hard until now – I have been hiding behind the mask of legalism and connection to other people and trying to keep it hidden in the dark because my great sin is pride. My great identity crisis doesn’t come from actually having no value but from assuming I need to make it for myself by being “good enough”. There is no humility in that. There is no loving others when that is all you are focusing on – yourself.
So, for everyone out there feeling just as lost as I am right about now, trying to understand who you are, feel free to join me – it’s going to be a long journey. It will be fun, it will be challenging, it may suck sometimes, but can we be real?
He leaves the ninety-nine to pursue the one that is lost.
I can’t live as an impostor any longer; so, I’m going to journey through the wilderness of finding out who God says I am. I’ve been avoiding the wilderness for long, but that is where the Spirit is leading me, and if not for God, where else will I go? There is nowhere else, no one else – so I will rest in His faithful promises, it’s the only place I can go.