Just be yourself.
This, I heard a lot of as a child. “They’ll accept you for who you are”, they say, but we let others tell us who we are first. I was 10 and I didn’t have my personality figured out. I didn’t know how to reign in and control my quirks. I didn’t know how to celebrate them. I was only cool according to my mother.
You’d think that by now, I’d have it all figured out. I’ve crafted the perfect script of who I am – personal, smart, and honest, but not enough to offend people who see the world differently. Great right? I crafted this script going to interviews, work functions, networking events, and even simple social gatherings. I can tell people that I am defined by my degree, my company, my hobbies, what I eat, where I travel, and etc. But there is a problem. My script is like everyone else’s. This script is not a story.
But wait, faith? This part of my story becomes silenced the most in public. It’s usually the last thing colleagues, employers, and friends outside of church want to talk about. It’s an uncomfortable space that we all tip-toe around, especially in places where you, a person of a faith background, are a minority. I thought that university would be the place for me to finally open up and talk about religion, but I found myself gradually becoming more timid inside and outside of the classroom.
I didn’t anticipate that of all the things hindering me in my faith it would be the limits of my comfort. I’ll proclaim my love for Jesus in this space, but not that one. I’ll evangelize these people, but not those people. I’ll worship loudly here, but not there. Who am I? This answer will always be different depending on the people asking.
Why are we so afraid to be ourselves? Post-secondary students, I’m looking at you. Ironic how in a place where our ambitions are nurtured and we chip away at the marble of our identity, we hold back a part of ourselves. We lose confidence in ourselves because we can’t perform to the ideal that we are trying to shape. The ideal that we think friends, colleagues, professors, parents, and future employers consider valuable. Maybe we are afraid to chip at our marble because we don’t think people are going to like what that will look like. We want our marble to appear as grand, or pristine as our neighbor’s.
We look at our mistakes as something that we need to keep far from our self-development. You wouldn’t tell your future employer about that time you disappointed your team by not meeting a deadline. People will tell you not to let your failures define you. But we need to allow those failures to shape our character – to humble and empower us. Let your mistakes, sufferings and pain chip away at your marble. Sometimes resisting them is more detrimental.
Remember the masterpiece that God sees. In His eyes we are valuable; mind, body and soul, without condition. Remember that no matter how disappointed you become in yourself, your identity in Christ will not change, break or bend on rock foundation.
You are marble, but your masterpiece takes refinement, and a whole lot of time. So take some of those hits – you’ll be surprised at how strong you truly are.