It's a message we are commonly told, but with good reason.
For many of us that can be quite a challenge.
I believe the ability to be yourself is a complex strength.
I know this much about it, you must be deeply secure in your identity. Or you will always be uncomfortable with who you are.
Many times I have been a chameleon. It's not something I'm happy about, it's just the truth.
I grew up with a deep root of shame that something was inherently wrong with me. It has been a shadow casting it's darkness in the years of my life. Like that elephant in my life rooms. When you wear shame, you aren't free to be the real you. You try to change that person because you are convinced that person is wrong and flawed.
Here's an example. I remember from a very early age thinking and believing I would be lucky if anyone ever loved me. That I didn't deserve love and any bit of love I found I needed to hang tightly too.
I remember always telling other people God loved them and would forgive them of any and everything, but that message eluded me. I told people all the louder because I wanted that message to somehow reach me. It was this belief that I stood on the outside of the fence because I was too flawed to be the recipient of God's love and grace.
Usually one day that false person or that person you are trying to be ends up collapsing. It comes to light. This is ugly, humiliating, and plain old hard; however, its a grace of God. It's a door to freedom. It's you dropping all the things you have been juggling and never did a good job of and picking up who God made you to be instead.
Sometimes time and wisdom makes us drop each person we are trying to be until all that's left is who we actually are, but sometimes we don't stop all of that craziness until we trip in a big way and lose them all. We are forced to face the music and do the hard work of finding out who we are and finding out what God actually thinks about us.
I've done a lot of excavating this year in that category. Something I wish I had done for so long. Had I done this I wouldn't have been so hungry for approval, I would have been secure and not in need.
I have found it is so much easier to believe the truth of God's love for others and exclude yourself. Do you really believe in the unabashed unrelenting love of God for you? If you don't you will seek it out somewhere and maybe in a million different places....And it will come up ugly and empty.
Do you find yourself believing the things you are telling others? Make sure you do. It's most important you do.
On a ligher note what are some things about you that you might wish to change for others, but are the real you?
Example. What is something you really find fun even if no one else does?
I like what Gretchen Rubin says in her book the Happiness Project:
"I felt like the things that other people enjoyed were more valuable, or more cultured...more, well, legitimate. But now it was time to "Be Gretchen." I needed to acknowledge to myself what I enjoyed not what I wished I enjoyed. If something was really fun for me, it would pass this test: I looked forward to it; I found it energizing, not draining, and I didn't feel guilty for it later." (pg. 116).
She describes all sorts of things she wanted to like, but found if honest she didn't enjoy. She seemed a bit embarrassed to admit things she actually loved but when she embraces those things and is true to the natural way God made her she is happy.
We need this security that the way God has designed us is good and that it is okay even if it isn't the normal.
So here's a few things I wish I enjoyed...
Gardening, baking, running five k races, babysitting and working with kids that aren't my own, camping, watching tv, animals, routines, sleep.. I could name many...
What does Somer actually like?
Cooking *not baking - way different, running short distances, playing with my own kids, hiking (no sleeping on the ground involved), reading books, knowing and loving people (sorry animals), going to new places, having a lot of variety, learning ( i would love to be in school)
Recently I had a friend give me a wonderful piece of honesty. She told me she didn't like something that I loved. She said it in a gentle and nice way and this was uncharacteristic of her to do. It was good for both of us. "We are so much alike, but not here."
I laughed and then we bantered a bit about how we are different. And we are better for being different.
We are always healthiest when we are okay with being who God made us to be and also okay with others how God crafted them to be. We give each other graceful permission to be living in the fullest glory God gave to each of us. And He did give us each a glory and will return us to our fullest glory.
I really think so much of the wonder of Heaven will be in the people walking around completely free to be themselves and not even noticing it. A complete release of self consciousness in the reality of Jesus presence.