Today will you journey with me as I tackle an area that at times I tend to avoid? You see for a long time this specific answer to our question was one I was not proud of, you might say it was a secret I wanted to keep. But God, has a purpose for the pain and perhaps a plan to use my past to help someone else's present.
I believe sometimes in order to answer the question, "Who am I?" we also need to consider the question, "Who was I?" Though we may no longer be that person, God uses who I was to shape who I am and can use that to help me become who He created me to be. So on today's answer...
Growing up, I was a child who got along with everyone, but wasn't real close to anyone. Others saw me as a great listener, but I rarely gave anyone the opportunity to do the same for me. Though I was surrounded by people who loved me, cared for me and supported me there were times I was lonely. It didn't help that I struggled with my looks and though I was a people pleaser I knew I'd let them down.
As my high school years passed by, the hole I was falling in seemed to get bigger. By the time I left for college, depression was part of my days. (Though I had yet to admit it.) Time went by and the days got darker until September of '99 during my second year of teaching.
It was a Tuesday and after struggling to connect with and gain respect from the kids I wanted to inspire, I felt like a failure. I looked at others' lives and thought I'd never measure up. As I listened to this repetition of lies and negative thoughts I convinced myself I didn't matter and uttered 4 words that have changed my life, "I want to die."
Instantly in my mind I had a plan, a way to end it all; but as I pulled out my journal, God had another plan. A thank you card from a Mom of one of my former students fell out and I picked it up. Her words shook me and reminded me of the desire I'd always had to set a good example and then my fear of failure kicked in and I was afraid I'd mess up my attempt at the unthinkable and have to face all the people I'd tried to leave behind. So rather than picking up my car keys, I grabbed the phone and called for help rather than going on a ride that would end it all.
Now for the sake of time, I'll spare you some details, but I do want to address my answer to the question "Who am I?" Though it hurts me to say this, I was the girl who wanted to die. Like I said for many years this was something I was ashamed of; if a conversation turned to suicide I found myself becoming very silent on the outside, but internally I'd beat myself up with thoughts like, "I can't believe you ever considered that!" Friend maybe you are there, if so can I share a new thought? A radical one?
I believe God wants us to die, just not the way the world defines it. It's not a physical death He desires but instead He wants us to die to self. And that's exactly what happened to me twelve years ago this fall, I finally realized I was not in control, it was not my job to fix everything or make everyone happy, nor was it anyone's job to fill me up or make me happy. By coming to the end of myself, I was able to go to the cross and receive all Christ had for me.
As I think about this John 11:25 comes to mind, "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die." I believe Jesus is saying we can't live for Him and still do what we want, there's not room for Jesus and everything else; it's a one or the other decision. In this case dying isn't a bad thing, no, it's a good thing! It's what God wants me to do and you too!
The Bible supports this truth with Paul's words in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." When I decided to accept Christ, I was crucified with Him. Simply said, I died.
On that night back in 1999 I had no idea this is where my dying would lead, but God did. At that time I really didn't know much about a personal relationship with Christ, but as my Creator, God knew what would bring me to HIM.
In the days since there hasn't always been that same desire to die, but daily GOD calls me and you to die to our self and live for HIM!! Galatians 5:24 sums it up quite well, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
I'll be honest this isn't always easy and I don't always succeed, but it is God's desire for me. By doing this I will become who He created me to be. The Word tells us only by losing our life will we find it! (Matt.16:25)
I understand this is a scary concept, but then I recall those days of depression and the moments I thought physical death was the only answer. If you've been there, I'd guess you'd agree that IS scary!! I never thought I'd be one who wanted to die and like I said for years the memory of desiring just that brought pain and shame, but today I'm grateful for who I was because it has played a critical role in helping me become who I am.
This process of becoming can be difficult because it is hard to lay it all down for the sake of Christ, but as I reflect on my life and see the times I've done just that I know it's worth it!! I pray you do too!! Today may we reflect on Paul's words, "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." Phil. 3:7-11
"Who am I?" The girl who wanted to die, and did!! Friend, if these thoughts create questions in your mind or confusion in your heart please feel free to email me! (firstname.lastname@example.org) If God is speaking to you and calling you to surrender; I pray you will respond. It truly is the most important part of our journey to answer the question, "Who am I?"