We’ve all heard the expression, “Just be yourself,” correct? Most likely from our well-meaning mothers, comforting us before starting a new school year or attending a social soiree. But I–ever the practical one–always wanted to scream with frustration, “But what does that mean?! What do I do to ‘be myself’???” Instead, I would silently bury my panicked thoughts, nod to my mother, and file her words under “something mom says in a failed attempt to assuage both my nerves and hers.”
I have learned since then just what the expression means. We are not a laundry list of characteristics, traits, strengths, weaknesses, and giftings. For example: If I were to describe myself, I would list traits such as: Introspective, loving, witty, talented, extremely loyal, tenacious like a bulldog!, impatient, hard-working, practical, creative, detail-oriented, determined, imaginative, wacky, professional, smiley, artsy, genuine, sassy….yada yada yada. All of the above are true and describe some facet of my personality. However, “being myself” does not mean in a situation that I display each of these traits like a badge. “Ok, I’m loyal…how do I show these people I’m loyal? I’ll talk about my family and how protective I am of them, yeah, that’ll do it…” or “They need to see I’m genuine ’cause that’s who I really am, so I’ll…” How exhausting! Reminds me of Shakespeare’s words in As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage/And all the men and women merely players.” What I described is not being one’s self, but performing! You are but a walking bulletin board of adjectives, nouns, and marketing ploys. Do you behave that way at home or around your family? Doubtful.
So I’ll let you in on the secret. Do you want to know how to be yourself? Take a look at your own skin and say, “Wow, this fits me wonderfully. It’s the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn!” Corny? Sure. But you get the point. Being yourself means feeling comfortable in your own skin, which you achieve by forgetting yourself. Right now your brain may feel on the edge of imploding — trust me, it won’t. 🙂 Stay with me a little longer. What’s true of humility is true of being the most natural you: It is not thinking too little or too highly of yourself…it is ceasing to think of yourself at all.
Take a peak in the Bible. Nowhere does it say, “And for the love of all that is holy, please see yourself as nothing but a lowly peon, fit only for a life of drudgery or slavery…if you’re lucky. The ones that really make me angry are crispy critters” (Angela’s Translation). No!!! A thousand times, no! Instead, it says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139). His plans for us, too, are not to “use, bruise, abuse” and discard…He gives us everything we need for this life, a full and joyous life! (2 Cor. 9:8, Jer. 29:11, Ps. 16:11)
Nor does the Bible say, “Blessed are they who study their own navels for the entirety of their existence, who shuffle through life believing their sole purpose is to the be the scapegoat for everyone else, the people truly deserving of good things” (You guessed it, Angela’s Translation). “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3:23). Count them — all. I could belabor the point by listing off people of the Bible–highly favored people–whose track record was far from perfect: Peter (denied Jesus and was generally too rash), Paul (persecuted and killed Christians), David (committed adultery and killed his lover’s husband), Samson (had an ego and authority problem)… And so it goes. We all are highly valued by God, regardless of performance or pedigree — we are His greatest prize. We are the “apple of His eye” (Deut 32:10)! Each and every one of us. But wait, there’s more! AND He desires to bless us more than the most loving earthly father ever could (Mtt 7:11)!
Are you picking up what I’m putting down? 🙂 Forget yourself by remembering Him. Spend time with Him. As I mentioned in my post,\”I\’m going to tell you who you are, really are.\” Mtth 16:18 (MSG), He will speak to you of your design. The more time you spend in His presence, too, the more you pick up His mannerisms and His vision. He becomes your all-in-all, and you see why He made you. He didn’t have one of you, and He couldn’t imagine a world without you.
Recap, our sequence of events: Spending time with Jesus –> Transfusion of His DNA/Polishing of your unique design –> Walking confidently in His vision –> Forgetting self –>A natural and not performance/laundry list-based you!
Whatever you do today, just be yourself, ‘k?
(Check out Bible Gateway for looking up the Bible references. Or if you have an iPhone, there’s an app for that. :))