It’s Okay To Be Me
As of right now, the media is buzzing about something that, honestly speaking, I was completely clueless about until a couple of days ago. When I began to watch the television in shock–realizing that my Facebook newsfeed was filled with a used-to-be man–I wasn’t quite sure how to feel. First I was indifferent, thinking that it would soon pass. After reading an article or two, I became frustrated. Then, after standing in the kitchen and pondering about what God’s Word says and what Christ has personally done in my life… my heart broke for this man who felt that he had to become something that he isn’t.
Truth be told, all of us have come to that crossroad in our life: wanting to be something that you are not. I have been there many, many times. So as you read this, I hope that it speaks to you. I don’t want this entry to just be a flighty opinion, but a picture of what I have personally walked through. I want you to see why Caitlyn Jenner breaks my heart.
About ten years ago or so, if you put me in the room with… I don’t know, thirty other kids and asked who was the most insecure, I would have raised my hand. You could have put money on me. Who wished they could be someone else? I did. Who wish that they could be pretty, like the other girls besides her? I did. Who wished that they could be strong, yet kept failing? I did. Who wished they could jump out of their skin, but felt trapped? I did. Who was screaming on the inside for someone to let her free? I was.
I hated my body. I hated my dark under-eye circles. I hated my feet. I thought I was fat. I felt like no one really liked me. I felt like no one understood me. I felt like I couldn’t control my thoughts. The worst part of it all is that I felt like there was nothing I could really do about it. I was hopeless.
And you know what? There WAS nothing I could do. I could have all of the willpower in the world, and at moments I did, but still ended up failing. That is what made it even worse.
Here is the secret, guys: we all need a Savior. We need someone to whisper to us, “you have a purpose. I made you as YOU for a reason. You are wonderfully made.” We need something bigger than us, something that can empower us to be all that we can be. We need the right soil to blossom into something beautiful. And until I truly realized that Christ could do all of those things for me, I was never comfortable in my own skin.
It wasn’t instantaneous, either; I had to grow, learn, and ultimately trust God and have faith that what He said about me was true. As I got older, I felt like if I could be like someone else, I could be more accepted because… well, no one would like the real me. The real me was ugly. Eccentric. Liked too many weird things. Didn’t get as much attention as other personalities. So I would try to squeeze myself into a mold that I didn’t fit in. I was still allowing lies to hold me back from truly being myself.
I was not meant to be frank, extroverted, or even loud. I could try to explain it away by saying “oh, God is stretching me.” No, the honest truth was that for several years, I wasn’t being myself. I was trying on the traits of other friends to see if that’s what I liked, too. The funny thing is that all of my other friends caught on before I did!
I’m not sure when I had that “aha” moment. The most distinct memory that I have is being in an apartment with one of the wisest roommates I’ve ever had. She encouraged me to not be afraid to be myself. She knew the real me, but many people didn’t. I think I remember her saying, “give them a chance.”
I decided one day that it was worth taking a chance. I was honestly very scared. I was afraid that people wouldn’t like the real Shana. The real Shana isn’t like the rest of the group… but that is what makes me a part of the body of Christ. I am different; I am not a cookie cut-out. I have my quirks, and I was ready to see how God could use them for HIS good instead of selfishly holding them back in fear.
I took baby steps, but I began to step out. With each step that I took, the shell that I trapped myself in began to crack and fall to the ground. I began to understand my identity in Christ. I began to embrace my uniqueness, not resent it. I began to step away from the facade I hid behind for so long. And for the first time in my entire life, I felt empowered. I felt free. I felt comfortable in my own skin. I was okay with being Shana: artistic, introverted, seeming to have that “other perspective”, and the list could go on.
It all boils down, though, to the fact that God is the one who did all of this for me. Without God, I couldn’t be “free to be me,” as Francesca Battistelli sings. I would still be trapped, like the teenage me. Until all of us come to that place, we are all trapped. But God’s power is inside of me, enabling me not only to be who I am meant to be, but more than I ever could be on my own. For that, I am grateful. That is why I live for Christ: because finding Him meant finding me.
~ Shana Vaught