I have always been quite the good girl. I’ve had the odd rebellious patch here and there but my desire has been to please and to be useful. I’ve wanted to be helpful and to add value, to be useful and recognised in whichever situation I’m in.
What’s great about this is that I am really quite adaptable; I will be whatever is required in any given situation. I can be extraverted, introverted, a leader, a follower, organised and structured or completely free and fluid. I’ve got really good at being whatever you need me to be. Some friends often joke that I’m “the plug filler” – I will adapt to whatever hole needs filling. I’m your “yes, whatever” and “I don’t mind, I’m easy” girl.
The danger of this is that somewhere along the way, you risk alienating yourself from who you really are. As I rush headlong into being the best friend/ wife/ daughter/ employee/ team player (insert many different roles here), I can become so alienated from myself that I no longer know who I am, what I want or what my real feelings or interests are. It can be difficult to distinguish between who I really am and the characters that are useful for a role or job. My pursuit of being what others need me to be can take me away from my real giftings and talents and ultimately from the life God designed me to have. We can gradually lose touch with ourselves.
So I’ve begun to allow myself some space.
Space to answer questions “What do I want?”, “what do I love doing?”, “what do I really not like doing?” I’ve explained before, part of my reason for writing this blog is to use it as a way for me to find my voice, explore what I like and don’t like and learn to figure myself out a bit. Simply forcing myself to answer these questions without an “I don’t mind” is helping me to understand myself. Working out what I don’t like has allowed me to figure out what I do like.
Space to take note of my feelings. Feelings are indicators of your heart and soul. We need to pay attention to our interior. God created emotions for a reason and they have real value in keeping you healthy. I have always put my feelings into a box as I’d considered them as weakness, that some emotions were wrong (eg. Anger, sadness etc) and feared emotionality. But understanding and taking note of your emotions can be hugely beneficial in getting to know yourself. What was it that triggered that emotion? What makes you sad? What fills me with delight and could I do all day? What gets me angry?
Space to define the difference between who I am and what I do. There’s a difference my abilities and my passions. I can do administration, but that doesn’t mean I’m administrative – I hate details, I’m naturally scrappy and find bookkeeping boring. I can be gracious and sympathetic but my default is to be more firm, it irritates me to see mistakes repeated and I have little patience for inefficiency. I can hold a tune and sing a song or two, but I’m no singer – writing music doesn’t interest me in the least. I am a wife, a daughter, a site pastor, a project manager but my roles do not define who I am.
I will no doubt always want to be accepted and please people. But it’s too great a risk for me to adapt to what others need me to be at the expense of who God created me to be. I will still aim to be a great leader and friend and employee, but my hope is that as I listen more closely to the things that God has in store for me and take note of the emotions, strengths and passions that he’s put into the very core of my being, I will be more valuable and helpful to the world that I’d have ever been otherwise.