Today, I sat in church. The pastor asked all college leaders to rise, then he asked all college students to rise, and then all helpers. I sat… and it felt like I was left out at the party. Normal Sundays are different at church, but today was all about college students and for the first time, I felt graduated- but it wasn’t what I thought it would feel like. Some people feel the weight of their large potential after graduation, but I felt the opposite.
During the service, the most adorable incoming freshman sat in front of me. She is bubbly and sweet and a globe-changer. At that moment, insecurity showed its ugly head in me: “that’s what you used to be…but now, look! You’re just a loser.” I felt all of a sudden as though all of my potential for greatness was gone. People may have thought that I was going places before, but now the fog of my façade has cleared, and they can see me for what I really am: someone that doesn’t seem to be changing the world at all. I’m in the same place, with the same job, and now feel “too old” to be in the communities I loved before.
Within a blink of an eye, I went from feeling highly valued to seemingly invisible and incredibly alone.
And here’s the kicker: it is the biggest blessing in the world. I am getting SLAPPED in the face with some humble pie and it was needed. I didn’t know how many things I rested my identity upon until now.
I saw myself as the globe-trotting, adventure-seeking, idealistic role model. But what happens when I’m not trotting the globe?…and I barely get out of the house because I’m so tired all of the time? What happens when I’m more realistic than idealistic and when I’m falling short of being inspired, let alone inspirational?
That’s what sucks about putting your identity in anything that fades- it leaves you feeling empty when you’re without.
As I was telling myself all of these things, worship songs were playing. The lyrics, “All I want, All I need. More of You, less of me. Take this life, Lord-its yours. Have my heart. Have it all.”
I sang, and all of a sudden I became fully focused on the words and the God I was singing to. My mindset turned from one of self-pity and abandonment to thankfulness. I felt ‘uncool’ at church today (along with many other places)…but it pointed me towards singing for the one who made and loves my soul. I cared less about the opinions of those around me. I stopped trying to prove that I was holy…or that I was relatable. I just existed.
I felt completely vulnerable, and yet I knew that my worth was in the Father. My WORTH- the level at which I deserved to be valued or rated- was secure. It is completely true that in order to feel most worthy, we first must seek humility. It seems like an oxymoron until experiencing both so fully.
There are probably many of us that don’t feel as exalted as we used to be…or that feel ‘less ourselves’ because we aren’t doing the things we thought defined us.
I want to let myself be defined by God- as holy and loved. I am His child. He tells me who I am… that He uses me to be a world-changer, a person in His church, and a place for His Spirit to reside and act… and those things don’t change.
It feels nice to be adored by the world…but it is more than okay if you are not.
Also, I believe that God made me someone who loves travel and adventure, and I believe He enables me to lead others in some circumstances… but those things aren’t my identity. Those things are gifts and I like them…but I am not empty without them. My true identity is someone who is beloved by God.
I believe Jesus wants us all to know our true worth. When I know how beloved I am by Him, the pressure to appease all people passes.
Regardless of how people react to your presence, the important thing is already settled: God loves His children. I want my identity to rest fully on Him and not on the passions and abilities He has given me. Through every season, He still claims me, and He still calls me worthy.
In moments of self-pity, I want to remember how qualified I am…not because the world applauds me, but because God does.