I recently discovered that I’ve been hiding. Today I had two different coworkers tell me that I am shy. Perhaps this is true, to a certain extent. I can appear shy, and I may have a million surface fears and insecurities, but when it comes down to the core of me…the me that I truly am and desire for you to know, there is so much more to me.
I moved to Nashville almost nine months ago. That’s hard to believe. Time passes so quickly. This move was huge for me. I needed to take a step away from college town. I needed to go on an adventure with God and discover confidence and a deeper level of faith. All of this happened, and it has been an amazing journey. I have grown in so many ways in my personal life: I am more content in who I am, I am discovering how to express my creativity and personality, and I am not nearly as afraid of independence and risks as I used to be. I feel that, however, so much of this change has been internal and a bad side effect as taken place: I have retreated so much inward that I have come across more as a shy and timid person than I really am.
I especially notice this in two places: at work and at church. I work with a lot of outgoing people, and I am not one to compete for attention or try to be the loudest one, so I generally take on an observer’s role. Because of my second job, I haven’t been to my church recently, but as a Sunday School class we still hang out and I notice that I tend to be very tired when we get together, and when I do talk, I am usually talking about some problem in my life. It’s weird, because that’s not really who I am. I can be annoyingly deep at times, this is true, but I can also be fun and crazy.
I could probably carry on about my social quirks for a while, but the real reason for this message is to share with my friends more of the person that I really am and the things that matter to me. I realize that I don’t vocalize how I feel about things very often. I seem unsure and a little fearful. Honestly, those things about me are basically true, but when the top layers of myself are peeled away, those things aren’t there anymore. The core of me is passionate, brave, confident, and carefree.
If you want to understand what matters most to me, then you must know that more than anything, I am so in love with Jesus. I want to know Him more. I want to give my life to Him. I want others to know this incredible love that I know that has taken me on a journey from a very dark place years ago to where I am today and will continue to mold and shape me in the years to come. There was a time in my life when I was suicidal. I dealt with deep depression for ten years. I dabbled a little with anorexia, allowed dangerous people into my life, and lost love because of fear and insecurity. I battled chronic illness. Guilt and shame paralyzed me and in many ways kept me from letting God’s love into my life. Even though I served in ministry in several different capacities and places throughout the world, there was so much that I was holding onto that threatened the genuineness of my message.
I have a story, just like everyone else. Mine is important, as is yours. I am who I am in part because of what I have been through. However, I believe that I am mainly who I am simply by the grace of God and in many ways in spite of what I have been through. The pain I have experienced has caused me to become more tender toward others. The bad decisions I have made in the past have caused me to be more cautious in certain situations and I am more wise and discerning today than I used to be. My heart is hard to reach because I have come to understand how precious it really is. I guard it fiercely.
Someday I want to take care of orphans. It is my dream, and I think about it every day. I am passionate about international work, and I am fascinated by different cultures and languages. I enjoy the process of getting to know people, understanding the things that make them who they are, and sharing with them an excitement to see their dreams and desires for their lives come true. I love a good challenge, and I’m a little competitive. I am creative and artistic. I’m highly disorganized and not very disciplined. I work best under stress. I hate generalizations and the idea of normal. Put me in a box, and I will find a way out. I will then make the box unrecognizable. Tell me I can’t do something, and I will prove you wrong. Show me a need, and I will do everything in my power to fix or fulfill it. This is me.
This is who I am. I may be insecure about something, but in the end I overcome it. I may be afraid of something, but I always face it. I may hesitate a moment when I feel God leading me, but with His strength I choose to obey. I take life as it comes, and though I may dream ahead, my plans are flexible and subject to change. When I get something in my head, I make it happen, especially when it’s crazy and nearly impossible. I am loyal to Christ above all else, and at times this has disappointed people that are important to me. This too I must be willing to give.
I long to see the world a better place, and I want more than anything to be a part of making that happen. My faith in Christ has caused me to see people differently. I am sad when I watch my friends live in unhealthy cycles of bad relationship after bad relationship or when they struggle to see themselves as worthy of love. I know what that pain is like, and I want so badly for everyone to know and understand this fantastic love that God has given us and the incredible worth that we have in Christ. We are the object of the Almighty’s tender affection. We bear His image. We have been pursued by His love even to the point of death. What an amazing thing it is to have a relationship with Him…to talk to Him every day, to experience His strength in difficult situations and His peace and joy throughout any circumstance.
If I had to express in just a few short words what I want my life to be about, I would say that I desire for others to know Jesus. I want to tear away the facade of religion that has destroyed so many people’s understanding of God and show through my life transparently the truth about this divine and scandalous love. I want others to see in me what God can do with a life that is fully committed to Him. I want to be a part of His dream for the world. I want love to come to life inside of me.
Do with it what you will; this is who I am.