"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5: 1-2)
In order to convey what I want to say today, I have to bite the bullet and be totally transparent. What I'm about to reveal is something I've only discussed with God.
Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be someone else.
In kindergarten, I wanted to be Patty with the pretty dresses and long flowing curls. In elementary school, I longed to be Elaine because she had a sister, and a HUGE attic bedroom filled with games and books, and privacy. Please don't think I'm a true nut case, but I even punched the lenses out of my sunglasses to make it look like I wore glasses. Elaine did. And I wanted to be Elaine. I can't even begin to name all of the girls I wanted to be in high school. The cool girls; the ones who were the most popular. The ones who always got the guy. The cheerleaders and the scholars. It all depended on who I was fixated on at the moment. If they wore a sweater vest over their rolled up uniform, so did I. If they wore their blazer, so did I. I can't even bring myself to speak of a ruse that I pulled in college, because I thought something someone else did was so cool, and I wanted to be viewed in the same way.
After graduating from college, I was an adult, right? Chronologically yes. But I was still turning my attention to other women who I admired for one reason or another, and I set out to be just like them. I wanted to be an accomplished gardener. I wanted a body perm and clothes like someone else. I don't think they do body perms anymore do they? Gosh, I hope not! I wanted to embroider towels like one. I wanted to have things in my home like another. She was having a baby. It was my turn to have a baby. I was an imitator. I was a poser. I wanted to be like everyone else. Deep down inside, I may have even wanted to BE someone else.
I'm sure there is a whole lot the psychologists could tell me about the reasons behind all of this secret, strange behavior. I will not dishonor anyone to justify the things that I exhibited for most of my adult life. I will only name it.
For many reasons I was so insecure about who I was, that the only way I felt I would be accepted was to be just like someone else. The bare me just wouldn't be exciting enough, interesting enough, rich enough, eloquent enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, or God help me, good enough to measure up. So I constantly strove to be an imitator of those who were all those things. Or at least they appeared to be.
A sense of freedom and release gradually grew over the years after I became a Christian, and after I started reading God's Word on a regular basis. God lovingly and gently began to tell me who I was in His eyes. The more I made up my mind to believe God when He told me how much He loved me, and that He loved me just the way I was, the less I compared myself to others. I wish that I could say it was a Damascus Road deliverance, but that would be a lie. Freedom came one inch up the sides of the pit at a time, and I slid down the slippery slopes on more than one occasion, falling chest deep back into the mud and the mire. But at least I knew what I was doing and could more quickly run to Jesus for a big gulp of fresh air. I never really got why this was such a big deal. No one knew. Just my God and me. It was a secret, held close, and when I fell, it was never a public spectacle. But don't you agree that it's those hidden faults, those secret sins that do the most insidious damage?
I am praying that if you're secretly exhibiting this same behavior, I can share the revelation that delivered me one morning. My Savior and I were discussing this yet AGAIN. I wasn't just outwardly manifesting my feelings of insecurity. That was bad enough, considering that I should have been believing God about who I am IN HIM. That morning, God showed me this:
Wanting to be like, or to be someone else, meant that I was a total ingrate as far as who God made me was concerned. I was ungrateful for the life He had given me, the gifts that were meant for me alone, and the circumstances that had been allowed by my Heavenly Father, just for me. If I were content and grateful for MY life, I would never want to imitate or be like someone else. Gosh, I hope it takes you less than 50+ years to get this, dear one.
Ungrateful. When that word hit my spirit, I was wrecked with godly sorrow that brought tears streaming down my cheeks. God had been exceedingly, abundantly, beyond good to me all of my life, and I was ungrateful? All I could bring myself to say was "I'm sorry!" and repeated it over and over and over again.
Because this was a part of my behavior, I recognize it so easily in others, especially out there in the blogosphere. She will remain unnamed, but there is a very popular Bible teacher who everyone is trying to imitate in their writing and their speaking. I see her unique phrasing and mastery of words repeated in countless tweets every single day. Recognizing my downward descent back into the pit, I actually had to take a break from this teacher's books and videos some years ago in order to allow God to do His work, the work of making me uniquely ME. Friend, if God desired two of her, He would have made her twins.
We are called to be imitators of Christ. There is nothing wrong with godly mentors, friends and leaders who influence our Christian journey. The apostle Paul wrote a few times about wanting people to imitate Him. (1 Cor. 11:1; 1 Thess. 1:6) But we can cross the line and fall neck deep into striving to be that fallible human being that we admire so. We can long for their life, their ministry, and their unique calling. Can I tell you that person is only human? They will make mistakes; they will fall. Here's a revelation: their life isn't perfect either. They weren't made to be put on a man-made pedestal. Only Christ Himself will never fall, will never err, will never let you down. He is the One and Only who is worthy of your imitation.
God has prepared an amazing life for you. He prepared it specifically and uniquely for you before the foundation of the world. Every part of your physical, emotional and spiritual DNA has been molded by the Potter Himself. You are here at this time, in this place, with your own gifts, talents, abilities, family, work, ministry, circumstances and situations for such a time as this.
I don't have a clue if anyone reading this can relate to what I've shared. If not, then at least I got this out there in the atmosphere and it isn't hidden anymore. But if you can relate in any way...praise God and stop!
When we put a lot of thought into giving a gift to someone we love, we pick it out with much care, wrap it just so, and excitedly anticipate the opening of the gift. There is nothing worse than not getting the reaction we had hoped for. We want the one who received our present to love it, thank us for it, and cherish it, because we put so much into the process, right up until the moment they cut the ribbon and open the box.
How must our Heavenly Father feel when He has worked painstakingly to prepare our life, our gifts, our talents, and every minute detail of our lives just for us, and instead He finds us longing for the life He has given someone else? There is no gentle way to say it. We are ungrateful. Just as it would hurt our heart to suffer this kind of reaction from someone we gave a gift to, I believe we grieve our Father when we do the same.
"Rabbi Zusya said that on the Day of Judgment, God would ask him, not why he had not been Moses, but why he had not been Zusya." ~Walter Kaufmann
Who are you trying to imitate? Whose life are you longing to have? True freedom and true abundant, overflowing life will be yours the day you climb up into the fresh air and thank your good and loving Heavenly Father for the life He has given YOU. He only wants you to be YOU. That's all He expects because you are one of a kind and He has a wild ride in store for the rest of your days.
He loves you just the way you are.
Living the Word with you,