Some questions are inevitable. Who am I and why am I here are two of them.
For some, the question comes early in life, for others somewhere around forty, when it strikes us that we’re reaching “an age” and we look at what we hoped to accomplish and what we have accomplished.
Somewhere between the time we’re kids and we get to the age, life and those around us in it, alter our perspective of who we are from what we were–ones capable of changing the world, of making a difference–to ones limited by ability, skill, wisdom, education, insight, situation or other physical circumstances.
Our transformation from one capable of anything to one of limits starts early. The first time we’re told we can’t do something we aspire to do. I remember when I was a kid and the space program was new and very exciting. The world stopped to watch–they even brought television sets into the classrooms so we kids could see. Today, many have TVs in classes. Back then it was a huge, huge deal and no classes had sets.
Anyway, a set was brought in and John Glenn lifted off in Gemini. I was breathless. Captivated. So excited I could barely wait to get home and tell my folks. I was in grade school, but I decided right then and there I wanted to be an astronaut. I just had to do it.
So I went home, barely able to contain myself, and when my dad got home from work, I eagerly relayed what I’d seen and that when I grew up, I wanted to do what John Glenn had done. I wanted to go to space. My dad looked troubled, which confused me. He had long been a proponent of assuring me I could do anything I really wanted to do. I picked up on his resistance, his uneasiness and I wasn’t surprised when he looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, “I’m sorry, Tiger. Only men and monkeys can go to space.” They wouldn’t let girls into the program.
This isn’t about gender-bias. It’s about limitations. From that moment on, I believed I couldn’t become an astronaut because I wasn’t a male or a monkey. And that’s the point. I believed it, and therefore it was true. (I created my reality.)
So I scratched that off my list. And in the years that followed, many other things would be removed from the list, too.
For a time, I admittedly resented that. But then came wisdom and I discovered that those things were not my purpose. Having those experiences were not my destiny. It took time, seasoning and tons of grace, but finally God showed me my path and he continues to guide me on it. On this path, there are no limitations. (As a writer, I can be all those things I wanted to be and couldn’t for one reason or another. My point: sometimes our desires and dreams are alternately fulfilled. Not in the way we imagined, but in a way that works and still allows me to pursue our purpose.) That is the point I’m trying to make.
Alone, we look at all the things we’re told we can’t do. All the limitations of those around us and we assume them as our own. No one else can do something, then surely we can’t do it, either. Why bother to dream it? We wonder and we often accept that we can’t do it without asking a very important question: Why not?
Someone has to be first. And everything that’s done was first done by someone. Why not me? Why not you?
We should dare to dream. Definitely, most assuredly we should.
You see, there’s a huge problem in that “why bother” type of thinking and that type of mentality. It reduces us to a one-dimensional person. The physical. And we’re not physical or one-dimensional beings. We are a soul inside a physical body, three dimensional. And it’s those who remember that who do the impossible. They remember who they really are, they forget the odds, and they go for their dream.
And for those who dare, heading their “remember” list is belief. They believe they can do something, then they act on it to make it happen, and then–well, what do you know? They do it. They accomplish the impossible. They do what others said couldn’t be done.
Maybe not the first time, or the twentieth time, but they do it. And they make the impossible possible for all those coming behind them. Their success serves as a sentry for others. One that says, “So what if it was once considered impossible. I did it. If I can, you can, too.”
The question for the rest of us is how did they do it?
Obviously I can’t answer for everyone who has ever done something once considered impossible. But I can say that I’ve looked at the lives of some and they all first believed they could make whatever they were trying to do happen. They were convinced that though everyone said it couldn’t be done, it could be done, and they were going to try until they did it.
I noted, too, that many of them developed that conviction through their sense of faith. And that got me to thinking…
What if rather than looking at ourselves as we do, we looked at ourselves as God sees us?
Don’t dismiss that question. It’s important, truly. Look at what I mean:
- We see ourselves as too _________ (fill in with your favorite complaint: thin, heavy, short, tall, outspoken, reserved, quiet or shy–you get the point. Add your favorite adjective, whatever it might be.)
- God sees each of us as unique. We’re hand-crafted by Him, shaped and formed in His image. Why, we’re exactly as He desired us to be. He loves us. He gave us His best, which is a whole lot better and more than anyone else’s–than everyone else’s. Gee, there’s something special about us, after all… Doubt it? Look at the complexity of our DNA. Now that’s paying attention to detail. God paid attention to our EVERY detail.
- We see ourselves as lacking ________ (fill in with your favorite complaint: money, skills, abilities, education, personality, knowledge, strong intuition, discipline, stamina, strength or–you get the point. Fill in the blank with your favorite negative self-talk.)
- God sees us as unique; hand-crafted by Him, infused by Him with exactly what we need when we need it to accomplish the purpose for which He created us. Hard to believe with all that personal attention and intense inspection and honed focus to detail that we’re lacking in anything we really need…
- We see ourselves as ones who can’t win, can’t catch a break, can’t ever come out on top, depressed, sad, oppressed and used–you get the point. Fill in with your favorite “I never ______ “ or I can’t _______” phrase.
- God sees us as His children, unique and infused. Beloved. With all we need to attain the goals and desires in our hearts to meet and fulfill our destinies. Walking with Him, the physical realities (or restrictions) are insignificant. We might not be able to see a way to manifest our dreams, but He can, and he is not limited to physical restrictions. (I dreamed of being an astronaut at a time when women couldn’t; I became a writer where I can be an astronaut–or anything else I desire.)
Regardless of how we fill in those blanks, if we’re seeing ourselves negatively, as lacking or falling short of the mark, then we’re seeing ourselves in one-dimension. We’re reducing ourselves to physical beings and ignoring the fact that we’re spiritual beings in a physical body. And we’re not seeing ourselves the way God sees us.
Now think about that. And then tell me: who has the best view and biggest picture? Us or God?
Look, I’m a parent. I’m flawed to the core and as imperfect as human beings come. But I love my kids. I do things for them, I wouldn’t do for myself. I refuse myself things I really want to do for them. I dare to dream for them–that all their hopes and desires and needs are met. I ask for them to be blessed. For them and all those they love to be blessed. That their needs be met. That they be protected. Respected. Courageous enough to live by convictions. All manner of things.
When it comes to seeking help for my kids or my angel grans, I have no pride, no limits. If I must beg, I will beg. I will do all that and more–and I am not special. I’m just a normal, everyday average, typical flawed parent.
So knowing that truth about myself, here’s the thing: God is a parent to us all. He is not flawed. Not imperfect. His love is perfect. He is perfect. How much better a parent to us does that make Him than we are to our children? How much more does He love us? Dream for us? Desire for us? We know through Christ and the Cross what He was willing to sacrifice for us. Are there greater limits?
If they exist, I don’t know what they’d be. I think on this and the more I do the more humbled I feel. For all the imperfect parent in me desires for my kids, He desires more–for them and for me. And where I can’t facilitate many of those things I wish, He can. And He does. You’ve got to admit, this is a humbling realization. One that makes you think long and hard about you and your life.
With so many things going on the world that just shouldn’t be, I often imagine God looking down on us and weeping. Jesus was amazingly on target, asking from the Cross for us to be forgiven. “For they know not what they do,” he said. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that more strongly than I do thinking on this “Who Am I” question.
Things that seem significant, just aren’t. And ones that are significant so often go unnoticed–all because we see ourselves through our own eyes and not through God’s eyes.
When we walk alone, we often feel weak and ineffective. On this journey, I’ve discovered that we mortals feel weak and ineffective because we are weak and ineffective. Even those in the most powerful positions are weak and ineffective. Not one can defy death, the grave, stop the tide, or calm a storm. Not one. And yet when we walk in faith we are not alone, and we don’t have to be strong or effective. We don’t have to be perfect. We should try–Christ tells us that–but we aren’t required to have reached perfection or to have done everything perfectly right all the time to be worthy. We can be weak and ineffective and still accomplish amazing things. And we know how and why!
How? Faith–we believe. Why? Because walking in faith, we walk with God. He is our strength, He makes crooked paths straight, He guides and shines light into all the dark places–including those scary places in our minds and hearts. He is our parent. Parent to parent, we understand all that means. He loves us. Perfectly. Maybe we don’t fully grasp that, but we feel it. We know it, believe it, enjoy its blessings. And we know we’re grasping but a fringe of all there is, and the only reason we can grasp that much of it is His grace.
Now if we imperfect parents are capable of such deep love and wishes and desires for our kids, isn’t it logical that the perfect God is capable of far more?
So when we’re feeling small and insignificant, as if we’re something left behind, stomped on, too stinted to do what we deeply wish we could do, we’ve got to stop. Close our eyes. Wipe out those limited images of us inside our heads and hearts. And then we’ve got to replace them with images of us the way our parent, God, sees us.
Unique. Special. Significant. Hand-crafted and specifically shaped. Created in His Image.
Infused with all we need to accomplish the dreams and desires He placed in our hearts to fulfill our purposes.
Blessed and beloved.
Wise enough to know that through Him there are no limitations; everything, anything is possible.
Humble enough to be grateful for all–good and bad have value and there is merit in both.
Trusting enough to believe that even hard times bring good into our lives.
Confident enough to believe that even if we lack what we need at the moment to accomplish what is in our hearts to accomplish, if we’ll move toward it–just take a step on faith–then what we need will be provided.
Sometimes we forget who we are. Some of us spend a lifetime looking for answers to that question. When we believe, we’re spared that challenge. We might slip and stumble and we might even fall. But we get up, and look beyond ourselves. We shove aside the fog of life and mortal restraints. God is spirit, and we look at ourselves, down to our very souls, through His eyes. And then we remember who we are.
And we remember that beneath the fog we’ve known all along. . .