…who would you want to be? Angelina Jolie? Brad Pitt? If you’re a believer, maybe you would choose Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, John C. Maxwell or Mark Driscoll.
Who would I want to be? I would want to be me. Not because I’m perfect. Not because I have it together. Not because I am rich. Not because I’m any more special than anyone else.
I would choose to be me for a few reasons. One reason is because I already am me. I know myself quite well and it has taken me many, many years to understand myself. I wouldn’t give that up for anything in the world. It was painful! And there is no way I would want to start that process all over.
For many years I struggled with accepting myself and I recognize now that it is because I didn’t know myself or understand myself. Life had stolen from me that sense of identity and wholeness that God placed inside of me and harsh reality had claimed my innocence. I found my identity in what life had done, rather than in who I am.
Unfortunately I didn’t recognize this loss and, rather than trying to find myself in all the pain and disappointment, I started to hate myself. I believed the darkness I felt inside reflected everything I was and defined all I would ever be. Because of this self-hatred I made many bad choices that added to my confusion and loss of identity.
Jesus restored my identity when He came into my life. My life did an instant U-turn, quite literally, at about 10:30 in the morning on December 26, 1987 at age 18, and was never the same again. Even though my identity was restored, the scars of my past left a mark on my life that made me very ashamed of who I am, or once was. As I grew in my faith and learned that God sees me differently than I see myself, or than others see me, the scars began to heal.
When the voices in my head screamed negative thoughts into my mind, I fought back. If my Creator God loved me enough to come to earth and die in the form of a man, I have value. If He formed me patiently and with great affection, in my mother’s womb, then I have value. If He, being absolutely holy, is able to forgive me, then I receive that forgiveness and need to let my past go. If He forgives me, then I must forgive others.
As I trained my mind to think differently, I got to know the person behind all the pain. Some of what I discovered, I love. Some, I work on transforming. But it’s the real me—the person I was created to be. I would never volunteer to begin that process again.
Another reason I would choose to be me is because, in getting to know myself, I also discovered my purpose. It was in knowing God that I found myself, in loving Him I learned to love myself and in receiving His forgiveness that I was set free to embrace a new future.
There is something wildly wonderful about the awareness that I was uniquely designed by my Creator. He had a specific purpose in mind when He planned my existence and scheduled my birth. Not one detail of my life escaped God’s attention—not the good, the bad, or the ugly. This can only mean one thing: everything can bring good into my life, even the past pain.
That awareness changed my world. It alerted me to the level of impact my choices have on my future. If I look at the past and see my sin, I live in shame. If I look back and see how I was wounded, I remain a victim. However, if I look back and see that my life prepared me for a higher purpose, then everything changes. I begin to see that understanding can come out of pain and grace can come out of my own need for forgiveness. God developed a powerful resilience in my spirit and mind through the trauma I experienced and I see now that it all brings Him glory and equips me for what He has planned for my life.
When I sit across the table from a young woman who has never had the courage to share her story, and she asks me if I can handle the truth, I can look at her with confidence and say, “It’s okay to tell your story. All of it. I won’t judge you.” And, if she chooses to share her story, I know that I won’t see her any differently, no matter what she shares with me.
Let me ask you again… If you could be anyone you want to be in the whole world, who would you choose?