The person you can see isn’t the real me

Who are you? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? If you’re like me, you probably see your flaws. Hopefully you’re not like me and can focus on the things you like that are staring back at you in the mirror. But the person who you truly are goes deeper than your face or your hair color or skin color or your nationality. The real you is invisible. That person can’t be seen and can’t be identified by our normal categories. Oh, because we’re so good at labeling, aren’t we? We love to label people, and most of the time we even love to label ourselves.

If I ask you who you are, most people would probably respond with a job description. You’re a teacher. You’re an engineer. You’re a farmer. Whatever. I do it too. I’m a writer. It’s just easier to label ourselves so that other people know what to expect from us, but that doesn’t identify you. Not really. You’re more than your job. You’re more than what you do for a living or for a hobby.

Identity is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. I’ve been an introvert. I’ve been an extrovert. I’ve been in the background and in the forefront. I’ve been a singer, a musician, a librarian, a secretary, a teacher, a photographer, and a writer. I’ve taken inventory in a soda pop warehouse and answered phones on a switchboard. I’ve taught kindergarten Sunday school, led high school drama teams, blundered my way through adult drama teams, and given presentations in front of sales professionals and hated every minute of all of it, but I did it because it was my job. It was who I was–or who I was supposed to be. And I prided myself on being able to fill so many different roles for so many different people, but it left me feeling empty inside.

None of it had anything to do with who I actually am as a person. I’m not sure I’d ever even met myself until a few years ago, as weird as that sounds. I was too busy trying to be all these other people that I never took the time to see the real me in the mirror. I think all these years, I was just afraid to look. I was afraid that the person I truly am inside would be as full of flaws and imperfections as the me on the outside is. And you know what? That’s true.

The real me is just as screwed up as the me that people can see, but I’m okay with that. Well… not okay. But I’m okay enough with it because I came to understand a very important lesson that Jesus had to teach me: I’m a work in progress.

fingerprint-1Today’s verse is Zechariah 13:9.

I will bring that group through the fire
and make them pure.
I will refine them like silver
and purify them like gold.
They will call on my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘These are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’

God’s not done with me yet. He won’t be done with me for a while, and He’s in charge of that. So it’s okay that I’m not perfect yet. I try my best not to screw up. I do my best to live the way He’s called me to live, to love people the way I love myself, to put Him first in everything I do. But that’s not the lesson.

Do you know how metals are refined? I’m not a silversmith or a goldsmith or any kind of smith for that matter, but this is the information age. And you can find anything with Google’s help. What I’ve found in refining metals is that a goldsmith or a silversmith has to heat the metal until it’s a crazy ridiculous temperature and then skim all the imperfections off the top. And the smith knows that gold or silver is ready when he can look into it and see his reflection.

That’s what God is doing in the lives of His children. He’s working on all of us, working in our lives and through our lives so that we can become more like Him. See, what I was trying to do with all my performance-based perfectionism was heating up my own gold and silver until I could see myself in it. But I’m not what I can see either. The person I am inside should reflect Christ’s image–not the image I have of myself.

That’s who I am.

So to get to know who I am truly, I figured I needed to get to know Jesus better. Because it’s so easy to read about Him and hear about Him without really letting it sink in, without truly understanding who He is.

That’s the journey I’m going to be on for the next little while, getting to know Jesus better. I want to read the Bible and see what He says and understand what that means about who He is, because the more I know Him, the better I’ll know me.

I am more than a job description or a resume. I’m more than a hobby or a talent. I’m more than what I look like, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. I am who Jesus says I am. I’m His. Now … what that looks like practically, that’s what I’m going to find out.