As I step softly into this new year many questions have already begun to occupy my mind.
- What keeps me from living freely out of my unique, God-created design?
- What paralyzes me from living out of my true, authentic self?
- What has me repeatedly running to others to earn validation, applause and approval?
“The greatest battle we face as human beings is the battle to protect our true selves from the self the world wants us to become.” E.E. Cummings
Living Out of Our True Self:
The true self are those parts of you that are authentic, and flow from living out of the true identify you have as a believer, and as the Beloved Daughter of God.
The true self does not need to earn favor with God. The true self is validated solely through Christ’s unconditional love. This validation is not based upon what one does, what you have, or what you think others are saying about you; but just for who you are in the eyes of Christ.
The true self lives a free, purposeful life, knowing that you do not need to earn favor with God or others to know that you are accepted as the Beloved of God.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
Hey! Are you a truth teller?”
Ø Do you live authentically in how you present yourself to others?
Ø Do you tell the truth about yourself through your thoughts, speech and actions?
I realize that these are very pointed questions. But the tip of the arrow is pointed straight at me! “Am I a truth teller?” “Do I live as the real me; or pose as the person I think others want me to be?”
“Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.”
Proverbs 29:25 (NLT)
For years, I hid behind elaborate self-made masks. These disguises smiled just when they needed to. They energetically said that life was great, our home was fine, our marriage was awesome. But the problem was, the messages that my masks portrayed, were not always true!
The masks I wore, were so thick with lacquered layers of creative attempts to portray that life was grand; that it became complicated for even me to determine where the lies ended and the truth about me, began. I didn’t know where to start; but I knew that I needed help. And I needed help by first learning how to be a truth-teller.
Despite regular times in God’s Word, prayer, and journaling my emotions; I knew that hiding behind these protective masks and disguises were slowly eroding my soul; but I didn’t want to ring the alarm that could take us out of ministry or draw unwanted attention to myself.
It took one leader who knew me well to courageously say; “Linda, if you don’t get help, then I am afraid you will go down and not be able to come back up again.” My masks had taken a toll on all my relationships, and myself.
I had learned that instead of being a truth-teller, I could just grab another mask; put it on, and pretend my way through whatever situation was at hand. I had grown up learning to be seen and not heard; and I had the being-seen part, down pretty good!
Yet, despite the revolving wardrobe of masks, I continuously lived under a suffocating weight of fear. Fear of what people thought about me. Fear of speaking truth. Fear of being judged. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear that I would disrupt our home with a differing opinion. Or the ever-increasing fear of being a bother by asking for help.
My life looked put-together on the outside, while inside I didn’t know who the real me was. I had become a chameleon who no longer knew her original color. This juggling act had gone on long enough! But I didn’t know how to stop the merry-go-round and get off. Even in this decision to stop the perpetual whirl, I feared drawing attention to myself or hurting those I loved with being truthful.
Allowing God to unveil my pretentious masks, and learning to live out of my true self was risky business. During this journey I have often wondered if God could heal me, and bring me to a place of liberty; especially after so many years of hiding. But God, in His loving-kindness and generous mercy began to teach me how to live in freedom and to find delight in living out of my own unique design. In this I can joyfully say: “I am Linda Jane, Different by Design!”
“Lies are not just what is said – that is un-true;
but what remains unsaid – that is perceived as truth.”
Linda Jane Dingeldein
Different By Design
I have a long way to go; but I no longer want to try to improve God’s perfect design, by gluing on my ridiculous embellishments for the approval of others. I have already been gifted with the approval of the One whose opinion of me, matters the most!
let’s not merely say that we love each other;
let us show the truth by our actions.”
1 John 3:18 (NLT)
Have you ever…
Ø Shoved down your longings, instead of living freely as God uniquely designed you?
Ø Wanted others to perceive you as something that you’re not?
Ø Posed as someone you’re not, to keep others from being dis-satisfied with you?
Ø Kept your true ideas, opinions & feelings inside because they were different?
Ø Wondered what life would be like if you risked everything to remove your masks?
“With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my sisters, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”
Romans 12:1-2 J.B. Phillips (PHILLIPS)
God, as I think about living out of my unique design and out of my authentic self by not seeking validation from anyone else but You, I must ask myself, “Do I believe that Jesus really is enough for me?” O God, please teach me that Your grace is sufficient for everything I need.
Forgive me for trying to find approval from others and validation from what I do, or what I have, or praise for how I look. I know that fear of what others think of me will always trip me up!
Forgive me for living a lie, and wanting others to perceive me as something or someone that I am not. Forgive me for covering up the woman whom You lovingly created me to be. In doing this I have pushed away the Creator and His perfect design. In essence I have said that the person whom You have created me to be is not good enough.
God, I have been created in Your image, in Your likeness. All that you have created is perfect! All that You have created purely reflects Your goodness, Your holiness, Your glory. It is my desire to be a woman who reflects the radiant glory of God!
God, thank you that I am coming to know and to believe the amazing love that You have for me. God, you are love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
Help me to be a truth-teller by living freely as the woman You created me to be; created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
In Jesus name I pray – Amen!
*Prayer Scriptures: (Proverbs 29:25; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Genesis 1:26-27; 1 John 1:9; 1 John 4:16; Ephesians 4:24)
Linda Jane Dingeldein Different by Design celebrates the beautiful children of Ifugao, Philippines. Photography by Linda Jane