Here I sit, coffee in hand, on an unexpected day off from work. I love these days. I’ve learned when I have unexpected time off, it’s God’s way of saying “Pssst, hey, I wanted more time with you so I orchestrated some time for us today!”
So I come to the closest thing I know of Heaven on earth (the coffee shop down the road) and sit here with coffee and pen in hand… heart and mind open to whatever the Lord is wanting to say.
As I sat here, I looked at my YouTube subscriptions list and saw a video that jumped out at me. Holy Spirit is so good at knowing exactly what I need to be encouraged and leading me to it. It was just a short video by Steven Furtick of Elevation Church titled “Are You Disappointed In Yourself?” (Watch the video here).
He talked about a tree trying to produce oranges, pomegranates, or anything else, and being frustrated because… it was a fig tree. It wasted all it’s energy trying to produce something it was never meant to produce. But when it tried to produce figs? Brilliance . He talked about how we’ll never succeed trying to be something we don’t even have the DNA in us to be! Wow, that hit home…
I’m amazed at how much energy we waste trying to muster up the ability to be things we simply aren’t. I’m amazed at how much energy we waste trying to be the things we think we “should” be rather than the things we were MADE to be.
I, more than anyone, understand this struggle. I grew up with parents who expected me to be extensions of themselves (I’ll save the lecture on being the child of narcissist parents for now). But suffice it to say – it was not good, and I was never even allowed to acknowledge that I had a self, much less explore and express who that was.
Not only that, but as I’ve grown up and learned who God created me (an ongoing process!), I’ve learned that I really don’t fit any mold. For starters, I’m a woman who was raised in a religious home in the south and there are just certain expectations that go along with that – none of which I fit. I was never social or outgoing, as “good Christian/southern women” are supposed to be. I was reserved and skeptical by nature – preferring to stand back and observe before participating in things, especially with new people. I’m a thinker (not a feeler, as women are expected to be) by nature and I prefer to live in the realms of logic, reason, and facts. Because of that, I’ve always gotten along a lot better with men than with women so I never had that “girl gang” thing going on. I’ve also been frequently judged and misunderstood because of this.
You want to see how evil people can be? Don’t be who they expect you to be. Don’t act how they expect you to act. Disregard the mask they’re trying to convince you is real and you will see those sharp teeth and devil horns come out faster than anything.
Furthermore, I’m an introvert and prefer the company of one close person to that of a group. I’ve always hated parties and the thought of being social just for it’s own sake makes me want to throw up a little. (In case you didn’t know, women are expected to be social). I’ve always preferred a bike to ride, a tree to climb, or a book to read over any typical “girl” activity. I abhor the idea of being fake to people (which is standard operating procedure for southern women) and I’d rather talk for 5 hours about deep and complex things than spend 5 minutes chatting about surface things. I’m extremely blunt and say exactly what I think, without regard for how that might make people feel…making me the least-likely-to-be-invited-to-a-party anyways. I’m totally fine with that, though.
Because of some of those qualities, people wrongly judge that I am cold and distant which could not be further from the truth. I care for people far deeper than anyone ever realizes, but I often care for them by way of telling them the truth and offering a clearer perspective on things, which in today’s snowflake society is almost never welcomed much less appreciated. And as much as I love people, I still care more about how God feels than about how they feel. And I care a lot more about what God thinks than I do about what people think. Call me rude, cold, or offensive if you want, but if God prompts me to speak truth then I’m going to do it. And so I find myself disagreeing with people quite frequently. And if you didn’t know, women are “supposed” to be agreeable.
I’m too traditional to fit in with the world and I cuss and drink way too much to fit in with the religious crowd. And no matter what I say or do, somebody somewhere has something negative to say about it. So I can’t win for losing.
People will never understand how deeply I love them and how I continually ask for God’s heart and thoughts towards them. And He gives it to me. I have more empathy for people than they’ll ever know but that empathy does not override my obligation to call a spade a spade and speak truth, especially when God prompts me to do it. People will never understand how deeply my spirit is troubled by their sin, their rebellion, their ignorance, and their bondage to the Enemy..all of which I see more clearly than what brand of clothing they wear. They will never know how many prayers I pray and tears I cry over them. They’ll never know the tears I cry on behalf of others even while they are speaking lies about me or gossiping about me behind my back. I’ve been lied to and lied about more times than I can count – out of sheer spite for speaking truth to people who didn’t want to hear it or holding them accountable for their actions. These same people will never know the nights I spent in intercessory prayer over them, begging God to deliver them from their sins and demons…even suffering massive spiritual attacks because of that intercession. They’ll never know how I’m so weighed down in my own spirit because of their bondage to the Enemy. A bondage they aren’t even aware of…
If anyone knows what it’s like to be different, misunderstood, and rejected on the deepest levels, it’s me. And yet I’d rather spend my life being different, misunderstood, and rejected for who God TRULY made me to be than spend my life rejecting MYSELF by trying to be someone God never made me to be or catering to people’s approval instead of God’s approval. In my case, those two things are almost always at odds, so my cross to bear is continual. Yet I’d rather face people’s rejection and scorn because I was real than have everyone in the world like me because I was fake. I’m not saying I’m perfect. So far from it. But I will be and continue to become all God made me to be, even if that means I get rejected by everyone…even those I love. And if Jesus is the only friend I have at the end of things, then I am learning to be okay with that.
How many of us never become who God intended us to be, because we spend all our time trying to be what we think we should? Or spent our lives trying to conform to what is expected of us to please others? What would happen if, instead of being who we think we “should” be, we just allow ourselves to be who God already made us to be…and learn to really OWN that?
I know it’s scary. I know it’s risky. When we become ourselves, we risk being misunderstood and rejected for who we truly are – and that is a pain that goes without words. Believe me. There are wounds in my soul from having my very personhood rejected by the same people I gave my heart to…that I’m not sure will ever fully heal this side of Heaven. Maybe I’ll always live with a little limp from the deep pain of being hated and rejected by those I have loved more than anything. So I understand why most people spend their lives being inauthentic, because it’s so much easier to be rejected for who we aren’t than it is to to be rejected for who we really are.
But I promise, it’s far better to be who we really are.