I’m Not Who I’ve Been
Goldie the butterfly was - hurt. Not physically. It was his feelings. His friends didn’t believe it was him. He flew over a leaning bird bath, where,in one cracked corner with peeling white paint, he caught sight of himself. He gasped at his reflection. Wowzers! He thought. This is going to take some getting used to. It’s me alright, he thought. Just different. He now liked nectar instead of leaves; flying instead of crawling. But he still enjoyed the sun, and the trees and his buggy friends who all seemed to resent his change. “It’s still me”, he thought- I’m just not a caterpillar anymore…
It’s a word rich in hope and potential.
It says one’s present state of existence, is transitioning to a point or position where one is not- at least not yet. The challenge is, moving from the being of now , to the being, to come. Who one is to become in the future is not always clearly known- at least not by the individual themselves. We may be able to take a guess as to how we may look. We may have dreams and hopes that at present direct our next step. Yet, this is usually, the end of our knowing. From our point of view, most of our future self is written in hopes and maybes.
Somehow, however, one thing is certain. There is an innate understanding that we can not remain the being we are, at present, forever. Change is inevitable. The growth from a baby to an adult is the simplest change, yet, can not be avoided. Still, several things can make transition, or transformation, challenging. Here are two that stick out:
1.) self -limitations. We do not believe we can be something more than what we are now; and 2.) fear. We are afraid of either losing parts of who we are now, or afraid of being forced to embrace something unfamiliar or unknown about our future selves.
Limitations.There is no doubt that humanity is obsessed with itself. We study our own nature, psychoanalyze patterns and traits, and try to get a grasp on who we are. We fall into the trap of allowing ourselves to be comfortably boxed in by society’s philosophies regarding these personality traits and types, and astronomy signs. There is a plethora of sources ready to help you figure out who you are and where you fit in. Why? It makes us feel empowered. It makes us feel justified. We want to own our identities and personalities, and solidify why we do what we do. Truth be told, we want to be free from accountability and responsibility for our actions. This is evident in phrases like, “This is just the way I’m wired.”
Let’s be honest, it feels good to say, doesn’t it?
See the other day in a false sense of hopelessness, I turned to these natural methods of self-discovery. I am not saying they are all bad. I am saying we can restrict ourselves to the results of these “tests”. They supposedly reveal our personality, or thinking style, or dress style even, or whether we are sanguine or melancholy- or not. Before this point I thought, why can’t I seem to break free of this habit of mine to (clears throat) procrastinate; or why am I so ( cough-cough) unfocused, or, when will I learn it’s OK to say no because I need a nap? How relieving it felt as I read articles and clicked the multiple choice questions and watched “discover your truth” videos. Suddenly I felt understood, and so empowered when I read all about- ME. I read how my so-called deficiencies were not flaws, just misguided potential ticking bombs of positivity. I thought to myself, I just need to own that I am the way I am. All I have to do is capitalize on my strengths and view my weaknesses as just strengths-in-the-making. RED FLAG.
Without warning I was moving toward self-centeredness. I was becoming comfortable with simply being rather than becoming. I was willing to take the lazy road. Doing nothing required no effort. I was being OK with limiting my existence to only what I see in the mirror, rather than beyond. See, there’s a passage that talks about becoming.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away ; behold , all things are become new.-2 Corinthians 5:17
So God doesn’t intend for me to stay the way I am. He never intended for me to capitalize on my weaknesses, but to give my weaknesses to him. He states
“be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” - Romans 12:2
I almost unintentionally bought into the lie that I am good enough the way I am. Please understand, this does not negate the perfect image of God in whom we were created. This only serves to confirm the effect sin has in corrupting that perfect image. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and it’s only in God we can get back to original form. God say’s it’s “ in him we live, and move, and have our being”. In other words, I am nothing without Christ. My very identity must be in Him, for he is the source of my being. He is to be also the inspiration for my becoming- more like Him- the way he intended from the beginning. And get this, it may not always come naturally. We have to work at it.
Ok so let’s talk FEAR. I get it. Who you are right now is comfortable. Sure there are things you’d like to change, but you‘ve come to the conclusion, it’s easier to continue presenting this present personality.You may think, If I make drastic changes, I’ll lose my companions. If I began to behave differently I’ll run the risk of confusing my family. In reality, you lose yourself if you keep forcing the growing version of you into the mold of who you no longer are.
Transitioning from the “now you” to the “growing you” can be daunting. Sure, you, and others around you, have only experienced you in the present. Your actions and responses and contributions to the party or group defined who you are, until now. With each passing day you learn more of who you are apart from the party and away from the group. Exercising individuality can be unfamiliar. Saying “no” when you’ve always said “yes” can have others raising their eyebrows at you. Or not.
Many of the fears we face are more in our own heads. Your circle of family and friends are not going to suddenly disown you. If we think about it, they are in their own various phases of “becoming”. Don’t suppress the unique individual that you are growing into, just to appease the comfort level of others. Your resentment and frustration of role playing will soon betray you.
Maybe a caterpillar knows it will be a butterfly one day. Maybe not. I laugh at the thought of the caterpillar stopping itself from crawling away to build a cocoon,because it didn’t want to offend it’s buggy pals. It wouldn’t survive in that form for long. If it kept trying to suppress the urge to go out on a limb and hang alone for a while, it would die. Can you imagine the energy and effort it would take for a caterpillar to force itself to not go to the next stage of growth? It can not be much better when we attempt it. We may as well put that energy into becoming. Interestingly enough, a writer named Paul understood this process.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.- 1 Corinthians 13:11-12
It’s Ok to not have it all figured out. It’s NOT Ok to deny your circle of family and friends the opportunity to support the person you’re becoming in Christ.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,-Philippians 3:12-13
So how about it caterpillar? Don’t be afraid to lose out on squirming around munching and getting fat on leaves. Don’t worry about whether or or not you’ll know how to spin that cocoon. It’ll come. Before you know it you’ll have wings. And I guarantee, those can take you much farther.