We are so good at putting ourselves and others in boxes. We don’t allow for people to be. Just be. We have an incessant need to figure out which box we fit best in and can’t deal with it when we meet people we can’t put in a box.
I’ve spent a lot of my life being told I was ‘too…..’ or ‘not enough…..’. I am yet to find the standards and criteria against which these judgements were being made, but what I know is that this resulted in my doubting the way I was made, and searching for a box that I fitted in ‘better’ than my own unique brand. I searched for a place where I could fit and belong so that less attention would be placed on my so-called failures. I looked to try and be another shade of grey, so that I wouldn’t be so acutely aware of all the ways I was ‘too…..’ or ‘not enough…..’.
I have met countless people that this has happened to. They’ve been told from a young age that something about how they are isn’t quite right, and this becomes the part of themselves that they fear the most, rather than celebrating their most unique feature.
It is so sad to see people who are incredibly gifted, ashamed or hiding their true selves in a box which they’ve decided the world will better accept them in. We’re so narrow minded in our definitions of who people are allowed to be. We allow our narrow version of what God is allowed to create to dictate what people are allowed to be. Rather than celebrating the creativity of God in making all humans unique, we punish people for their differences, and force them to be ashamed of the ways they’re different, so that they seek refuge in communities and boxes which they may have otherwise never run to.
This was my journey for a part of my life. I didn’t seem to ‘fit’ with the culture into which I’d been born, and my gifts also seemed to never quite fit into the mould I was being graded against, so I ran away. Actually I gave up on some of those gifts ever being used.
I wasn’t a good writer, because my opinions weren’t backed up by enough scholars.
I wasn’t a good singer because I couldn’t sing like an opera singer, or a diva.
I wasn’t a good communicator because I was too direct and might offend someone.
I wasn’t a good artist because I didn’t have enough finesse.
I wasn’t good at loving others because I might get hurt.
to name a few…..
There came a point where I realised what had been going on, and I stopped dead in my tracks and resolved to be who I am. No more box fitting. No more denying who I am, what I think, or what my gifts are. No more being another shade of grey. It’s time to be true to me, true to who God made me to be, because if I don’t, this version of God’s creation will never be seen again on the planet.
What happened in that moment was that I realised that all those ways I’d been boxed in and squashed were the very ways that God wanted me to best function. That list above has moved from being a list of things I was doing all wrong and differently to why those who were judging me deemed best, to being a description of who I am and what I do best.
No, I don’t reference a ton on scholars in my writing, because I’ve come to realise that those scholars were also writing their own opinions, and we have for some reason deemed their opinions to be more important than anyone else. (Not that I disagree with learning – I am a big reader and I love to learn, but I don’t think that we should elevate people above people.)
No, I’m not an opera singer and I clearly wasn’t destined for a life of singing Mozart operas on the stage. But I can sing, my voice has it’s own purpose, audience and design.
No, I am not a communicator who loves to massage people where they’re at, and make sure they’re super comfortable and happy. I am someone who is passionately committed to helping people be fully engaged and released into their destinies in freedom, release and authority. I care more about that, than making sure I haven’t offended you.
No, I am not an art school graduate, I paint my songs and writings as I see and feel them, and what comes out is a spontaneous expression of a moment with God. I don’t believe these moments can be crafted. Yes, I practice and work at some of my skills, but I’m also ok with my lack of training.
Yes. I love deeply, and trust easily. I learned at a very young age that this will get me hurt, but it’s who I am, and to turn it off means I turn my heart to stone. I did that once, and the process of having heart surgery to replace the rock with flesh was a painful and long one. I don’t wish to repeat it. So I will continue to love others deeply, and trust others easily. And I’ll continue to get hurt every now and again. But those hurts become scars, which are just a map of my life, directing others, hopefully, to the one who gave me the heart in the first place.
Maybe you’ve not been allowing yourself to be you. Maybe you’ve been another shade of grey in order for others to not notice all the ways you think you don’t ‘fit in’. Maybe you’ve shut your gifts down so that you do’t have to deal with the ‘too…….’ and ‘not enough……’ comments. Maybe you have forced yourself into a box that isn’t really you, but you’ve found acceptance and community there. Maybe you’re just a shadow of the person you know you are really.
Maybe it’s time to dare to be. Be who you are. Be who you’ve been made to be. Allow those gifts to be cultivated and crafted by the Master Craftsman who put them there in the first place. Maybe it’s time to replace that heart of stone with one of flesh and allow yourself to be the unique, one of a kind creation, that will only walk the planet in your shoes.
This article originally appeared on Simcha Natan’s blog, January 24, 2019, and reposted with permission.