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Being Me (and being you)

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On Tuesday, I wrote a post for the blog carnival entitled “Faithfulness – To thine own self be true”. In it, I made the following statement:

For the most part, I enjoy being me. I now understand after years of fighting to be like someone else, it was never God’s intention that I be anyone but myself. I fought it for years, seeing only my shortcomings and rarely my strengths. But somewhere along the way, I figured out God can use our weaknesses just as well (and sometimes better) as our strengths.

In the comments section, Bonnie and Melissa Rae asked about the line, “But somewhere along the way, I figured out…” How did I figure that out? There’s not a short answer to this question. It’s been a process. It continues to be a process.

The journey began innocently enough. I was 24 or 25 years old. I was watching a segment of 20/20 about Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults. I’d never even heard of ADD, but as I watched the stories of others struggling with the same feelings of inadequacy, low self worth and pain, I knew without a doubt they were describing me. I wasn’t looking for excuses, I was looking for hope.

Shortly after this broadcast, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist. I took a long, verbal test to confirm if I had ADD. The test began with some questions about my work habits in school, etc. Simple enough. Then the doctor began asking me math problems. As I type this, my face is beginning to feel flush remembering how full of shame I felt. I could not calculate simple addition in my head. I broke down in tears, and he concluded the test. He didn’t need more to confirm his diagnosis. I was referred to a therapist to help me understand my condition and to learn to live with it. When I walked into her office, beautifully framed in gold was this poem by Veronica Shoffstall:

Comes the Dawn

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn…
With every goodbye you learn.

That was a major turning point. I was approaching life completely wrong. I was attempting to gauge my self worth based upon what others thought of me. In that epiphany moment, I understood what I believe is a core truth: You can be surrounded by loving, supportive, caring people (or not) and yet you are still ultimately alone in this world. We are created to live in community with one another, yet at the end of the day, it is you and your Creator who understands the depths of your soul.

Strip away all the things people think define you, and you are ultimately left with what you know to be the truth. That despite how flawed you may be, God put you on this earth for His glory, and He has already equipped you with the tools you will need. It is up to you to hone these tools, and get to work on your Father’s business. “To thine own self be true?” Yes. Absolutely.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10