I sleepily sank into my chair after praise and worship, listening to the host of the chapel service introduce the guest speaker for that day. As the speaker took the microphone and began to share her life’s story, I quickly began to drift off in my own tired thoughts. You see, with being a pastor’s kid, growing up in church, and attending Christian schools for my education, making rash judgements unfortunately happens too easily when it comes to pastors and church speakers. And as this young woman began sharing of a seemingly perfect childhood filled with accolades and accomplishments, I immediately began to disconnect. In complete error, I thought, “She's unrelatable to me.” However, only moments later, her message took a sharp, unforeseen turn that no one could have guessed solely by looking at this beautiful, collected, accomplished young woman.
She began to tell the story of how she faced group violence and rape on a regular basis at the hands of fellow classmates throughout high school. Having repeatedly turned down their initial interest and passes, they decided they would no longer take ‘no’ for an answer. She then proceeded to tell of the aftereffects this created, the betrayal of a close confidant, and all of the sudden I realized how wrong I had been for judging her by her outward appearance. It was yet another lesson on how we truly never know what a person is going through, or has gone through, by their exterior alone. My heart hurt deeply for her, and I realized although the pain we both have faced has been caused by very different circumstances, she was relatable to me.
The next part of her story has impacted me and haunted me, and has by far marked me more than any chapel service I’d attended that entire year. After finally opening up to her mother about the occurrences, she began attending counseling sessions. The counselor opened up by asking, “Who are you?” Immediately, the young woman smiled because she knew how to answer that question. She was a straight-A student, a president of this and captain of that, a lead volunteer, a regular church attendee, an award winner, and so on. The counselor patiently waited as she recited her long list of accomplishments. When she finally finished, the counselor said something to the effect of, “Those are all very nice things that you do, but I asked who you are.” The young woman said she was extremely confused and a bit irritated, because those things did make up who she was. She spent her life working hard and accomplishing everything she had just listed. The counselor went on to explain, “We weren’t created as human doings, we were created as human beings, and before we were ever made to do, we were made to be. So I’ll ask you again, who are you?”
And that’s when it hit me. Who am I? If I stripped away all of my accomplishments, my achievements, my awards, who am I? If I took away all of the activities from which I found my identity, what would be left of me? Have I been so busy doing that I have failed to simply be? To be known by God, to be loved by Him, and to be whole in Jesus? Had I lost my joy, peace, and contentment in order to achieve and accomplish? Was I more concerned about attaining my dreams and goals than I was about becoming the person God created me to be?
It was through this revelation that I began my journey that I like to call "The Beauty of Becoming." It's so easy to get lost in the hustle, in the accomplishment, in the goal-setting, the dreaming, and destiny that we focus on doing and forget we were first created as beings, who later began to work and create. So I’d like to challenge you with this: who are you? When you answer that question, are you tempted to reply with your job title, your relationship status, your role as a mother/father, your accomplishments, your dreams, goals, etc.? If so, I invite you to take this journey of becoming with me, and the first step is a reidentification through Jesus. Spend some time with him this week, asking him who He has created you to be, and explore that as deeply and consistently as you can. Because at the end of the day, our accomplishments and accolades will fade away, people will fail us, and life will change; then we must ask ourselves, what is it that remains?
"What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?" Mark 8:36-37 (MSG)
Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema