The “Real” You

Who are you?

No, who are you really? Who are you when no one else is watching? The “you” who doesn’t have to impress or please others. Are you truly being yourself or are you playing a role that others expect from you? Do you even know who you are?

God knows you.

Just that thought alone scares us because if there really is a God, He knows the good, the bad and the ugly about us. We don’t like knowing someone knows all of our skeletons and who we really are.

I often wonder about people who are different from their social media profile. They are one person on Facebook and totally different in real life. Sometimes we try to project ourselves as being something more than who we really are. We want people to like us and think that we are interesting or special in some way.

Why is that?

Did you know that God thinks we’re pretty special? In fact we are wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14). He also says that “the mountains and hills may crumble, but my love for you will never end” (Isaiah 54:10)

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be enough for us. Instead, we try to play a role and be the person that others want us to be. Why do we feel the need to impress others? We do it because we want others to acceptance us or we lack the confidence in that people will like us for who we really are.

You are special in your own unique way. As for me, I know that I am quite eccentric at times and do things that are totally not what people expect but I am who I am. Some times, like many others, I get pushed to the side because I don’t always say much and not the center of attention in a group setting. You just have to get to the place of accepting yourself and feel good about the person you are.

Will the real you please stand up?

What are you afraid of?

Don’t be afraid to be who you are. What does it really matter if you lose some so-called friends over it? We are all special in our own way. We shouldn’t be ashamed of who we are. If you try to be someone you are really not to please others, you will be the one who is miserable. Don’t conform to the person people THINK you should be.

God has created you for a purpose and it isn’t to be a preacher or to be a missionary in a foreign country. Some think that God’s purpose is always something related to a ministry position in a church or religious organization. That isn’t always true for everyone. Maybe God’s purpose for you is to be the best you that you can be. Your purpose could actually be you secular work. Businesses are desperately needing good, dependable employees. It is becoming increasingly true that good help is hard to find. Just be careful to not let your work define who you are either. You are not what you do. Your job occupation doesn’t describe who you are.

People also tend to judge who you are based on your family. Some folks live off of their family name but that’s not who we are. For most of my young life people assumed that I would become a preacher simply because my father and grandfather were preachers before me. I have had to remind people that being a preacher isn’t hereditary. It’s not a family business. Sure, I would know how to be a preacher but that isn’t who I am. Don’t let people – or even your own family – dictate your life based on your family name.

Who is the person you see in the mirror? We either like the person we see or we don’t. If you don’t then what is it about yourself that you don’t like? Why can’t you look at yourself and accept who you are? You have the power to change things on your own.

One of Satan’s most effective lies is to convince you how unworthy you really are. God is holy and perfect and we are not so compared to that, we can never reach it but God doesn’t want us to compare ourselves with His perfection, He wants to simply love us. We have a hard time letting go because we don’t think we are worthy of that. We feel that somehow we have to earn it.

The end of Romans 8 is a place I always end up if I doubt about God’s love. It starts with verse 38 which says “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Now that pretty much covers it.

We do not have to be bound by being the you that others will accept. IF they accept you they will accept you and if they don’t, they don’t.

Isn’t it time to be who you are?

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Who Do You Think You Are?

Who+Are+You“You don’t have sense that God gave a goose!”

That was something my dad would say to me in his frustration with me when I was growing up.  I have never forgotten it.

You can imagine how it formed my self-esteem.

We grow up with the image of ourselves formed from our upbringing, our life experiences and our relationships with others.

Who are you?

There are some people I have met who are not the person they project on social media.  I have heard of some people who go to great lengths to Photoshop their profile picture.  They are obsessed with their online profile and their appearances to their “friends”.

Sometimes we put up an image to others but it’s not really who we are.  People are afraid to show who they really are in fear that people won’t like them.  We are so tied to what others think about us.  It’s a never ending struggle to meet those expectations.  One thing you should know about that is that you discover at some point that you will never do enough.

So who do you think you are?

God knows you.  He’s not afraid of the real you.  The person you are when your friends aren’t around and no one else can see you.

There was a time in my life that I wasn’t the person I am now.  I was in a prison to other people’s expectations and their opinions of me.  I did what they expected.  I worked at the church and filled the role I was expected to fill.  I found myself miserable because I wasn’t being the person that God created me to be.  I was striving to be what everyone else wanted me to be.  It was someone else’s life.  Not mine.

Sometimes we’re just too chicken to do anything about it.  We continue to put on the face that everyone else sees because we’re so darn afraid of rejection.  We want people to think good of us.  May I tell you the honest truth?  Everyone isn’t going to think good of you no matter what you do.  People won’t like you and they will talk about you behind your back.  Yep, if they talk about others when you are around you can bet they talk about you when you aren’t around.

How am I doing with your self-esteem now?  The truth hurts but the good news is that you can break out of the approval addiction.  Remember that whatever someone thinks about you doesn’t mean it’s true.  You know the real you and God knows you better than anyone.

So what exactly does God know about us?

Here’s what the Bible says:

  • “For the Lord sees not as man sees.  Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7)
  • “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2)

I think admitting that God knows who we really are scares us.  We live in denial that He knows us that well.  It really should be a comfort that He does and that regardless of the good, the bad and the ugly about us that He still loves us and he wants a relationship with us.

Don’t believe in Him?  He still knows you and loves you whether you want Him to or not.

It has taken me years to overcome a fragile self-esteem.  I believe I have more sense than God gave a goose now and I have people in my life that care about me.  Sometimes the only way you can achieve that is to make the choice that you are going to be who you are even if it disappoints people.  I will tell you that if you make that commitment and trust in the Lord that you will become the person He meant for you to be.

I will also tell you that life sucks sometimes and people are mean whether you believe in God or not.  Believing in God doesn’t make it any easier.  It won’t be a daily life of a choir singing throughout your day.  Some things only God knows about you.  In fact, He has knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7).  If He knows that much detail about you then He knows you and I pretty well.

I love the new song “God Only Knows” from King & Country and the part that says:

God only knows what you’ve been through
God only knows what they say about you
God only knows how it’s killing you
But there’s a kind of love that God only knows
God only knows what you’ve been through
God only knows what they say about you
God only knows the real you
There’s a kind of love that God only knows

It’s funny how people will tell you to “be yourself” until you actually do it.  We are expected to make allowances for other people to be themselves and have their own opinions but when we try to do it, people get upset about it.  Well, you can be yourself with God.  He knows you already.  You aren’t doing anything that surprises Him.

Who do you think you are?  There’s only one you and you’re pretty special.

 

The Fragility of Self-Esteem

youuglyWe all have a need to feel loved and accepted but it is important that we have a healthy sense of self-esteem.  Developing and keeping our self-esteem healthy can be a constant battle.

Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s own worth or abilities.   I have to admit that sometimes my confidence could be a whole lot better.

I was thinking about the young man recently who went through an airport security station in Rochester, New York and was handed a note by the security person.  When he opened the note it read: “you ugly”.   (Read the story here)  Now that’s just mean.  I’m glad to read that the airport screener was fired for that.  I just hope this young man has a good self-esteem.

The foundation for our confidence in our worth and abilities are developed at a young age.   Saying things to a child such as “you’re an idiot” or “you have to be smart to do that” are things that can make that foundation pretty weak.  Parents have a important role but when we get older we can’t blame it on them.  It’s up to us to fix it.

Like the young man at the Rochester airport I had my own “ugly” incident in high school.  I passed around my high school yearbook for my friends to sign it and was looking forward to reading their comments when it was returned.  To my disappointment someone had written “to a very, very ugly kid”.   It was anonymous but you can image how I felt.

When we get older, we have to do something with fixing the weak foundation.  Many times people do it by overcompensating in other areas.  Some try to find it in their careers.  Instead of doing what is expected, they go to the extreme.  Do you know what that gets you?  More stress and more work to gain the same approval.

Gaining approval by others is such a dangerous slippery slope.  You may get it but at what cost and what do you have to do to maintain it?

Let me say this one thing that I’m constantly trying to learn myself:  You don’t need anyone’s damn approval of you!  It is good to have someone who supports you and loves you no matter what but you still need to accept yourself.   If you are a good person and you do your best it doesn’t matter.  I often find myself falling into that approval trap.  Approval from others can’t be the load-bearing wall in your house of self-esteem.  If it is, when you don’t get the approval you want, your self-esteem collapses upon itself.

The key to developing a good and healthy self-esteem is by having integrity.  C.S. Lewis said that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  Do your best and understand that if it isn’t that you have room to improve.  Don’t let someone’s opinion of you fuel your self-esteem.  People are fickle.  You can be the hero one day and then it is forgotten the next day.  People tend to only remember what you do good until they need something else.

Here are some ways that we all could do to maintain a healthy self-esteem:

  • Don’t compare yourself with others.  This is an easy trap to fall into.  When I moved to Nashville four years ago people were constantly reminding me of my predecessor.  Finally one day I had enough and decided that I was going to do things MY way because I knew what I was doing and had been successful in other places.
  • Take care of yourself physically.  The way we feel physically can seriously affect our self-esteem.  We need to eat right and get exercise.  If we don’t feel good, we will let our guard down.
  • Accept who you are.  Ignore what people think about you.  Be who you are.
  • It’s not about your work title.  You need to separate yourself from your job title.  The world likes to judge people based upon what they do.  Don’t let that make you who you are.
  • Surround yourself with positive influences.  Get rid of drama in your life. Don’t be around people who bring you down.

We have to work at this everyday because the world is full of cruel people.  We live in a world where people will post mean comments to social media without regard for anyone else.  A healthy self-esteem is crucial for us to rise above it and have an enjoyable life.  When we believe in ourselves and our abilities, we become more resilient in the face of adversity.

Are You An Attorney?

I was asked this question yesterday. I suppose I looked like one with my tie neatly tied and walking the hall like I belonged there.

This was an odd exchange and I have not been asked this before.

When I answered that I was not, the expression on the man’s face changed drastically to one of disgust as if he had been talking to the help.

No, I am not an attorney and I don’t play one on TV.

In my younger days I might have been offended by the man’s response but today I know who I am and what I do. I don’t need a title. I have worked in a support role for my entire career. This role has been very good to me. While those with the titles get the attention, I have always been proud to make them look good and be part of the team. I remember once when I was asked to go with a group to conduct an inspection of an Air National Guard unit in the Virgin Islands, my supervisor made it clear that we were there to work first and then we could enjoy whatever time we had left. I respected him for that and I put my all into doing my part. In fact, I recall everyone doing their job and when everyone did their part we were all rewarded with time to enjoy the island.

I think it is important to know your role and be the best you can be. I used to try to compete with other colleagues in my field but quickly learned that I didn’t need to do that. Just do what I do.

This week begins my 28th year with my current employer. I have been in the support role of many attorneys. I am not ashamed of that role and have been happy with the many experiences I have had over the years.

So, I’m not going to be bothered with someone acting like I’m something they have stepped in because I am not an attorney or anyone important to them. I don’t have time for the condescending game. I’m not playing it. Bye Felecia. Go find your attorney. Just don’t surprised when the time comes when you need me.

Funny how things change when you are needed isn’t it? Someone can’t give you the time of day but when they need something, suddenly they need you. Yes, I have had that happen many times. The best way to react is just to be the same. Don’t try to prove anything to anyone. Just be the professional at what you do.

Oh, I have dealt with many instances of condescending situations. I will be honest and tell you it hurts but not as much as it has in the past. I have learned that if you do things to seek the approval of others that you will never do it. You can say “yes” and always volunteer for everyone and everything but the one time you say “no” or let something slide, that’s the only thing people will remember. That one disappointment wipes out the many things you’ve done before.

I don’t have time for that anymore.

People probably think I’m rather eccentric. Good. Keep them guessing. I am who I am. It’s funny how others get a free pass because “that’s how they are” yet when YOU exercise that same theme somehow you are the bad guy.

Nope. Not on my watch.

People have called me moody before too. Yes, I admit I am at times. Sometimes I am not good at filtering as I am at other times. Honestly sometimes I don’t feel like doing it. Dealing with some folks just takes too much work.

Sure, maybe I am moody and eccentric but I know who I am and I know I’m not an attorney. Deal with that strange guy in the hall!

Only You Can Be You

you

Be yourself.

I have heard that quote for most of my life.   It’s good when you can be yourself but, honestly, sometimes we don’t feel comfortable with being ourselves.  There are always people who are going to be smarter than us or with more life experiences than we do.  It can be intimidating if we let it.

Be yourself because no one else can be you.

I laugh because I wonder if anyone else really wants to be me.  I can be a little quirky about things.  I like to have a plan and I like to be on time for things.  I know that can drive people crazy that know me.  The good thing about being me is that I have someone that knows me and it doesn’t drive her crazy.  She gets me.  We all need at least one person who gets us.

I often watch how people act because most of the time I am an observer.  (Yes, that’s obviously another one of my quirks.)   It is interesting how some people change who they are according to the group they are with.  I’m sure there is some kind of psychiatric definition for people who do that.   I call them chameleons because they change their colors according to the environment they are in.

I also see people, especially in the work place, who love to stir up drama.  They will fuss and complain about it but they are not happy unless they have someone stirred up about something.  The drama gives them something to their lives.  This kind of person really puzzles me.  They often complain about the drama when THEY are the ones that created it in the first place.

I think a lot of times people are just not comfortable with being themselves.  They either aren’t happy with themselves or need some sort of affirmation by being someone they are not.  It’s a two-edged sword when you spend your life trying to please others.  It’s a game that you never win because ultimately you will succeed at pleasing no one.  Changing you to please someone only hurts you.  You lose your own identity to be the person you were intended to be.

You have something to offer and you are important.  I hate it when I get in a group of people and the first thing they will ask you is “what do you do?”   This is an instant mental classification process that people do in their minds.  What you do isn’t who you are.   Does it matter if I am a janitor or the CEO of a large company?  You don’t know my story or who I am by just knowing what I do for a living.

I often find myself around people who are smarter than me.  I try not to be self-conscious about that and I will add to the conversation when I feel I have something to contribute but I’m certainly not going to be intimidated by it.  Although I may not know anything about how to fix a carburetor on a car, if they conversation turns to football I am probably likely to know something about that.  I think we get caught up in trying to fit in rather that just be who we are.

It’s important that we respect each other and understand that we will have differences in opinions about various subjects.  Two of the most heated subjects are often politics and religion.  I try to stay off of those subjects because I know how people get about those issues.  We tend to SAY we want people to be themselves until they do not agree with some of these subjects.  It seems to be okay to allow someone to be themselves until they don’t agree with our side of certain issues.  You are allowed to have an opinion aren’t you?   Granted, some people have a opinion but not based on the facts or a strong basis on what they believe.  It’s very difficult to debate anyone like that.

I can tell you I spent a lot of time understanding why I believe some things that I believe.  I have had to question if I have my point of view because it is my point of view or is it something I have been told to believe?  It’s funny how we easily adopt things to believe simply because someone told us to believe them that way.  When I talk about beliefs here I’m not just referring to religious or political beliefs but those two are largely ones that are a challenge.

Yes, believe it or not I have my own opinions.  That doesn’t make me wrong, that makes me who I am.   I once had a person in my life who was a royal pain in the behind.  She was always critical of me and my motives.  It was a very negative charged environment when she was around.  I finally had to get to the point of reminding myself that her opinion of me didn’t matter.  That was her opinion.  Just because she had an opinion didn’t mean she was right.  If you are going to be yourself, you have to rise above what others think.  Believe me, that’s a very difficult hurdle to clear.  The haters are going to hate.  We have to deal with it and move on.

While I like being myself, I don’t over exaggerate it either at the expense of others.  What I mean by this is that some will say:  “That’s how I am and I don’t give a (bleep) what people think!”   Yes, we can be ourselves but we don’t need to take it that far.  If people don’t like who you are you can remove yourself either physically or mentally from the situation.  There’s no point in fighting about it.  It drives me crazy when people excuse bad behavior with a blanket excuse of “that’s how they are” or “that’s how they were raised”.   No, sorry, that’s not being you.  That’s an out for being a jerk face.  Being yourself isn’t a license to do whatever you want without regards to others.

One thing I want to be is consistent.   I want people to know that I am the same Milton in any situation.  I am who I am and they can count on that.  I am the only person I know to be.  It’s a lot easier than trying to pretend to be someone I am not.