As far back as my memories can take me, I can remember not knowing who I was, what I was doing, or where I belonged. In those days, my little girl heart longed for an identity, but there was emptiness where my hopes and dreams should have been. I never had the confidence to open up those places of my heart to discover what was inside, and to see who I was for myself. Instead, I chose to seek out my identity in others, allowing what other people thought and believed about me to determine who I was.
This lack of confidence and identity permeated every area of my life, big and small. My self-worth was wrapped up in what I could and couldn’t do, and in people’s reaction to me and my abilities. Sometimes even what I liked and didn’t like was determined by others. Can I just tell you that I ate cranberries every Thanksgiving and Christmas, even though I hated them, because my grandmother, whom I love so dearly, thought that I liked them and was so happy that I was just like her? So year after year, there I was eating these horrible little red berries just because someone else decided that I liked them. Oh, and that reminds me of the time I painted my bedroom orange, yes I said orange, because somehow someone else decided that it was my favourite colour. Seriously, I don’t know if I want to give that girl I used to be a huge hug, or a good shake!
Even though I have some funny stories from my old people~pleasing ways, the truth is that people~pleasing is not funny business at all. In this fallen world, there are so many people prowling around just waiting to snatch up a teenage girl with no sense of who she is and so many people who would just love to step in and take control of a life with no anchor, to steer that sweet one into becoming exactly whatever they selfishly want them to be.
My memories of the past are pretty cloudy. Unlike my son, who remembers everything even from his youngest years down to the minute detail, my memories are scattered and unclear, making the pieces hard to fit together. Yet there is one thing that is clear. I now know who I am. I know to Whom I belong, and my identity is firmly in place. I am a child of God and I have a hope that is anchored in Christ.
I didn’t become a Christian until I was in my thirties, but as I look back over the memories of my life, the seeds of hope that my Lord planted in my heart along the way shine as brightly as the noonday sun. There is no fogginess around my thoughts of the times I was invited to attend church with friends, or of my grade six teacher, a faithful Christian, with little care about how the kids teased him for his faith. I teased him too, but the little red Bible he gave the lost little girl in me so many years ago still sits in my dresser. His light shone brightly, and still does in the seeds he planted in my heart. Bright memories of a woman who held afternoon Bible club in her house when I was a child, and I clearly recall when as a young mom, I fell on my knees on my bedroom floor searching for hope, I turned to and tried to make sense of my great grandmother’s King James Bible, when everything in my world felt so hopeless.
My mind and my heart are full of many bright little memories that I can see along the way that led me to the Truth and the Hope that had been hiding in my heart. Looking back, I can see that who I was to be was there all along. “He chose us [He chose me!!], in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption as sons [and daughters] through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)
There is a light shining brightly in my heart for the One who knows my life from beginning to end. The little rays of hope He gives guides our paths, and when we surrender to His leading, seeking not to please man, but only God, in Him we find out who we truly are and where we are going. We are His. I am His. My identity, my hope, my life are all in His hands. Praise Him who came to be with us! Emmanuel, God with us, so we could be with Him, know Him, and the hope to which we have been called!
“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:5-6