Well...this is awkward.
It's been so long since I've written, I barely feel I know how. Pardon me while I limp along.
For the past couple years, my identity has been a central theme. I look back on posts like this one from last year and laugh a little.
In it, I said I was "Almost Alissa." God had spoken to me, shown me who He wanted me to be, and somehow, I ascertained that I was ALMOST there. Just a little more tweaking, I thought, and then...then I'll be who God wants me to be in order to achieve the purposes He has for me.
I am both amused and shocked by my own naivete. My identity is much more "in flux" than I realized.
I've struggled some recently because I was feeling like I don't "fit in" at our new church. It's been difficult for me to form relationships, and often, I feel awkward and uncomfortable.
However, last week, at a vision meeting for the worship team, I realized the real crux of the issue.
During an ice breaker we were supposed to take selfies with the people around us. Some ran around enthusiastically taking pictures with one another, while others of us took selfies with the people around us, but beyond that, were comfortable sitting back and watching the others.
One of the younger team members came over to take a selfie with us, and she said, "I don't know if ya'll are introverts or what, but I love y'all, too! Let's take a selfie!"
I was totally okay with the selfie, but I REELED at the thought that I was being perceived as an introvert, not because I don't like introverts (I happen to LOVE them), but because that statement challenged everything I know about my identity.
I have known one thing from a VERY young age...I am an extrovert. I am a chatty, upbeat people-person.
I thought about it for the rest of the meeting and I came to a realization: the reason I'm not connecting with other people right now is because I'm not even connecting with myself. It reminded me of this conversation from the Lion King:
Adult Simba: Creepy little monkey. Would you stop following me! Who are you?
Rafiki: The question is, who... are you?
Adult Simba: [sighs] I thought I knew, but now I'm not so sure.
Rafiki: Well, I know who you are! Shh. Come here, it's a secret. [Whispers, then grows louder]
Rafiki: Asante sana Squash banana, Wiwi nugu Mi mi apana!
Adult Simba: Enough already! What's that supposed to mean, anyway?
Rafiki: It means you're a baboon... and I'm not.
Adult Simba: I think you're a little confused.
Rafiki: Wrong! I'm not the one who's confused. You don't even know who you are!
Adult Simba: Oh, and I suppose you know?
Rafiki: Sure do. You're Mufasa's boy!
|Obviously, I don't own this image. This is all Disney. :)|
I thought I knew who I was, or at least, I thought I was close, but now I see it in a different light.
I'm not confused because I lost sight of who I am. I'm confused because I somehow lost sight of WHOSE I am. I am God's girl.
What I'm starting to realize, is that my personality will be in transition my entire life. Some elements will probably stay: joy, bubbliness, a degree of silliness, and I'll always be an extrovert at heart. However, other aspects of my personality may look different in different seasons or different situations.
No matter what, though, I can never be who God wants me to be if I lose sight of the fact that I'm HIS, and anything I go through, whether tragedy or transition, is according to His purpose for my life: to teach me and to train me.
All things work together for the good of those who love God:
those who are called according to HIS purpose.
Romans 8:28 (HCSB, emphasis added)
All things are not good. All feelings are not good. All seasons are not good.
But all things WORK TOGETHER for the good of those who love God, and who can recognize that what they "want" is not God's purpose. Sometimes we have to let go of what we want in order to receive what is truly best: God's purpose.
I've always felt a pressure to perform as the "Alissa" everyone expected me to be: positive, outgoing, talkative, etc. If I wasn't in character, then I was a disappointment. I felt the need to apologize for "not being myself."
However, I now understand that no one's expectations of who I am or how I behave can define me, and in reality, those expectations are for more internal than external. If I have a deep, abiding connection with God, "me" at any given moment will reflect HIM, and that's really all that matters.
Ironically, giving myself that freedom has actually made me feel more like "me" than I have in a REALLY long time. I feel settled, less like a performer and more genuine.
Many times in the Bible, we are told to take off our old way of life and clothes ourselves in Christ. As the sanctification process takes place, and we become ever more a reflection of Him, that outer garment changes to reflect the process.
There are times I have a message to share that I feel will deeply impact someone, and there are times I just feel it necessary to explain what's going on with me. This post is by far the latter.
Nevertheless, friend, if you feel "not yourself" lately - if you're not even sure who "yourself" is anymore - please know you are not alone, and that the only thing that really matters is that you know WHOSE you are.
Embrace that. Find yourself in Jesus, the one who is same, yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8).