JUST BE YOU!
I wish I was better-looking. I wish I was funnier. I wish I was easygoing. I wish I was athletic. I wish I was creative. I wish I had more money. I wish, I wish, I wish…
We live in a society today where everyone seems to be unsatisfied with how they look, what they have, and what they are doing. Our social media feeds and entertainment channels are laden with the flaunting of physical bodies, possessions, and enticing advertisements that assure us if we just had X, we would be happier. While we have a tendency to blame this dissatisfaction on current world value systems, understand that desiring something we don’t have is nothing new.
Way back in Exodus 20, Commandments 9 and 10 addressed coveting (i.e., wanting what others have). Evidently this is an age-old problem. There is something in our sinful nature that wants what we don’t have, causing us to compare ourselves with others and whittle away at our self-esteem. All of us have probably struggled with this during our lifetimes. However, if you are older like me, you may have discovered that many things we once thought were important really don’t matter that much after all. I wish I had known better when I was younger. I wish someone would have said, “Just be you. God created you in His image. You were created to reflect Him and no one else.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, Matthew 5:16)
I don’t think we realize just how detrimental it is to try and emulate others or seek to be something we are not. It is exhausting. It creates insecurities which fuel questionable behavior and poor decision making, and it often happens without us even realizing it.
I remember my first teaching position. I graduated at semester and had the opportunity to take a long-term substitute position in a high-performing district. I was so excited! At that time, collaboration was not highly encouraged. Everyone was friendly, but we all stayed to ourselves. I was surrounded by veteran teachers who had classrooms decorated to the hilt. It was so intimidating, and I was determined to keep up. My focus was misplaced. I wasn’t doing everything as if unto the Lord (Colossians 3: 23-24). I wasn’t tapping into my God given strengths and seeking to glorify God. Rather, I spent my time trying to be as good as my fellow teachers. I was at the point of burnout within three months.
We’ve all known students (especially adolescents) who want to be anyone but themselves. They spend all of their time focusing on where they don’t measure up and never develop their own character traits. The stress it creates can cause lifelong scars. Somewhere along the way, they need to hear, “Just be you!” I wish I could say we all outgrow the need to be told this, but I would contend it is something we need to be reminded of on a regular basis.
We all need to remember why God created us in the first place. We weren’t created to mimic others. We were created to commune with God, point others to Him, and reflect His glory. As Tony Evans says, “We are to be a divine advertisement!” When we remember this, we can embrace the personality traits, physical attributes, and emotional tendencies God gave us as we seek to reflect Him to the world around us.
Just think about some of the people described in Scripture. Peter was impulsive and highly energetic. Barnabas was known as the encourager. John was a confronter and orator. Deborah was a compassionate leader. Esther was beautiful yet courageous. All of the Biblical characters were very different from each other. Don’t you find this encouraging? While we were all created in the image of God, each one of us was made uniquely. God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you and me (Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 44:24, Psalm 139:13, Job 31:15).
God made all of us different.
· Some serious and some funny.
· Some intense and some laid back.
· Some short and some tall.
· Some empathetic and some indifferent.
· Some analytical and some random.
· Some expressive and some reserved.
· Some graceful and some rigid.
I could go on, but you get the picture. It’s time we quit trying to second guess our God-given attributes and embrace who we are in Christ. We are created to use what God has given us to reflect His glory. It’s time to just be you!
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Although we have certain aspects of our personality that are born into us, we can always get better. To be who God made us to be is an ongoing process, a transformation that continues until we meet Him face to face. Sometimes that is easier said than done. Let me be a bit transparent and share one of my own personal struggles in this area. One of my greatest battles is worrying about offending people or being too direct. Everything seems so touchy-feely these days, but God has created me to be analytical, discerning, and candid. I always seek to speak the truth in love, but my concern about other’s perceptions can very easily water down my words. In addition, my own frailties, shortcomings, and sin get in my head. How can I espouse truth to others when I often fall short myself? The enemy relishes in making me feel unworthy. Has this ever happened to you?
Let’s quit trying to deny and downplay how God has made us. Embrace your God-given gifts and personality. Thank God for making you who you are. He will use you to reflect His glory.
JUST BE YOU!
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
One final word, if you are struggling in this area, you are not alone. Here are a few resources to consider: