Just Who Am I Supposed to Be?
It had been a bumpy week. People I didn’t even know seemed intent on jabbing needles of disdain and belittlement into the vulnerable balloons of my confidence and self-worth. Words like failure, runner-up, and loser clattered through my brain like cars on a runaway train. I stood in front of the mirror, scrubbing away at my teeth, and it hit me, once again, that I don’t fit into a mold. I’m not what people expect me to be. I’m not what they want me to be. Maybe I’m not even what I’m supposed to be.
Before we’re old enough to say our first words, we’re already struggling to conform to people’s expectations. We’re supposed to fit a certain pattern, achieve certain things, turn out a certain way. We’re all striving toward a plateau of preconceptions. We’re supposed to be brilliant and beautiful and wealthy and angelic. We’re supposed to leave a mark on the world—become four-star generals or CEOs or soccer moms. We’re supposed to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, think a certain way.
So we either quash our individuality and fall in line or we keep tromping through the underbrush off the beaten path and risk the misunderstanding—and sometimes downright venom—of those who reject our differences. What is it about human nature that wants so desperately to be different, to be individual—and yet also needs to gain the approval of the world?
The discouragement and criticism of others makes us take a painful step back, makes us look at ourselves and wonder if we turned out the way we were supposed to. Did I take a wrong turn, Lord? Did the road signs I thought I saw so clearly really point the way I thought they did? Am I right to be the way I am—or should I listen to the dissenting voices screaming at me as I plod along this path? Have I become the person You want me to be?
And, there, in that last question, is an answer absolutely stunning its clarity and power. We’re not supposed to be the person the world wants us to be. We’re not supposed to conform to their ideas of excellence. God made each of us with a perfect purpose in mind, and all we have to concentrate on is fulfilling it. Whether the people around us understand every one of our choices, whether they shake their heads at our folly, isn’t what matters.
After spitting out my toothpaste and propping my toothbrush back on the cabinet, I trudged over to my computer to check email before going to bed. Amidst the usual pile of spam and social sites updates, the Lord had two amazingly encouraging messages waiting for me. I could hardly have asked for a clearer affirmation of His sovereignty in my life.
It was as if He were saying, “Fulfill the purpose I give you. Live each day up to My expectations. If I ask you to be different, if I ask you to walk a road the rest of the world thinks is ridiculous, why should that discourage you? You’re supposed to be who I made you to be. And that is enough.”
If we hope to live up to the expectations of the 6.7 billion other people in the world, we’re likely to spend the rest of our lives frustrated, heartsick, and downtrodden. But fulfilling the expectation of the One who made us and loves us? Now, there’s a challenge we might just be able to tackle!