The day I resigned was a nail in the coffin. I just remember deep, lingering sadness. I gathered all my teaching materials. Much of it was strewn about my classroom. I threw five and a half years of work away. With each page I tossed in the trashed came a rising sense of dread. What was I going to do? Who would give me work? What was I qualified to do? All of these thoughts I remembered during that brief prayer P—- prayed. The moment she said God was at the finish line, I was in tears. He was there urging me on to keep running, to keep my eyes on Him. I was heart crushed. I knew what she said was true. I had been chasing other people’s dreams and notions without realizing it. I was failing at living up to expectations. I was falling apart. The times I was most happy was when I was creating, singing, and making things up creatively, but how was that going to pay those bills. It didn’t look like whatever one else was doing, and darn it I had to fit in and look as though my life was making sense. “Stay in your lane,” the phrase kept ringing in my ears. I was in my lane, but I had ceased to run my own race. I was trying to do what everyone else was doing. It was killing me. It’s no small wonder the words of Emerson resonate with me.
There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power, which resides in him, is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.
Wise words well spoken, and in that moment began the search for meaning and identity like I’d never known. Did the journey come quickly? Did I “get it” right then and there? No. This has been the journey of a lifetime. I haven’t always stayed in my lane, and there have been several occasions where I stopped running altogether or I crashed into someone else lane. It hasn’t been pretty.Nearly eight years later, I have not forgotten those words. They echo in my mind, so I’m learning to walk in a new reality – “be”-ing me. It’s almost unsettling. At times I have felt beside myself, which is perhaps a result of playing along at life rather than owning all of one’s life. It gets old after a while. I don’t want to end my life and have people say, “well she tried, but she never really did the stuff we thought she’d do with all the gifts she had.” No one’s tombstone should read that, so now is the time to live different and just “be” who you are without apology.
True identity is unfolding. It is learning to say no to some things and yes to others. It is the strength and grace to say a thing is me or an expression of my gifts or it is not. I believe this definitely coincides with the work we do. There is no reason that who we are cannot be expressed in what we do. But we have to know who we are and allow that to inform what we do. I love Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He reminds them of who they were; “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Biblegateway, 2013b). You and I each have a calling or purpose on our lives that is good, and we were made to be walk in them. I am grateful for this upending walk. I am throwing off old notions and ways of being. Buried underneath all the faux-reality is the real, God-created me. I like what I see. I am learning to appreciate myself. I am learning that it’s okay to be me. It’s okay if my dream doesn’t look like anyone else’s. It’s not supposed to mimic anyone on earth. My dreams are my dreams, and I only I can make them happened.
What is the echo in your heart? What have you been hearing but choosing to ignore? What will do you today and tomorrow that will catapult you into your “you”-ness? Don’t be afraid. Take the journey. You are worth it. The world needs you to be you. You need you to be you. God wants you to be you – the beautiful creation he meant for you to be.
Choose to recognize you are a chosen and treasure being with meaning, hope, and purpose.
Lewis, Jone Johnson. Ed. “Self Reliance.” Essay Online. Retrieved January 31, 2013 from http://www.emersoncentral.com/credentials.htm.
Biblegateway. 1 Timothy 4. New King James Version. Online. Retrieved January 31, 2013 from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Timothy%204&version=NKJV
Biblegateway. 1 Timothy 4. New King James Version. Online. Retrieved January 31, 2013 from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+2&version=NKJV