“After years of being defined by the lives, demands and needs of others, it is frightening to knock at the door of your heart and wonder who is there.”
I read this quote in some materials we received at our women’s retreat. It defines the journey I have been on for years. I’ve spent most of my life trying to live the way I thought other people wanted me to live. Whether it was my family, teachers, or friends, I said and did what I thought they expected. So who I portrayed myself to be was not necessarily who God created me to be. Also, due to my environment growing up, I had to act a certain way just to survive. Those actions defined who I was, but I’ve realized that I no longer need to act that way, which means the person I was is not who I am. God has been guiding me on a journey to myself – to discover who He created me to be. It can be a scary journey. The logical/analytical side of me has a hard time with the idea of not knowing myself. Shouldn’t I know myself? After stripping away the expectations of others and my survival/defense mechanisms, however, I am left with the question, “Who am I?” And that raises the question, “How do I get to know myself?” I don’t have many answers to these questions, but I do have hope.
I realized two specific things while I was at the retreat. The first was during some small group time. Learning who I am is a scary thought for me, and there are many layers to that fear. As I sat on the pier by the lake, I sensed God saying, “I want you to know my daughter.” With that statement came hope and peace. It’s hard for me to remember that God created me in His image, and by that alone, I am beautiful. In general, I get that. God created man in His image. I can see other people in that way, but it’s hard for me to view myself in that way. I realized that is where I need to start. I need to view myself as God views me. So it’s not so much about getting to know myself as it is getting to know how God views me. That will then lead me to knowing who God created me to be.
The second thing I realized revolves around a part of my perception that has been skewed. In my head, logic states that I need to know myself before I can really connect with others – to have a base knowledge to relate to others and make a connection. One of the reasons I went to the retreat was to try and make connections – something that can be difficult for me. We had a ‘slumber party’ on Saturday night that was truly the highlight of the retreat for me. It was just a fun time with people whose base connection is being a daughter of God. What I realized is that in community I am able to connect with a part of myself that I can’t connect with on my own. God designed us to live connected – to Him and to others in community. Without that connection, there is a part of me missing. So the importance of connecting – no matter how difficult – is the next step on my journey.