Wednesday 26 March 2014

Narratives: Who am I?

We've reached Exodus as part of our cell group's Bible study, and I stayed up until 2 a.m. on Monday night (uh, I mean Tuesday morning?) prepping slides (and getting distracted by YouTube and Dreamworks' Prince of Egypt) because I felt like it (totally unnecessary, but oh well). And now I'm staying up late Tuesday night, after said cell group, writing this. (Why, I wonder, why? Why can't I just go to sleep like a normal person?)

Moses' questions and protests (Read Exodus 3 and 4) when he was called by God to go back to Egypt and deliver the Israelites are questions that rise often in my life. Not always in the same sequence, not always only once, but often over and over again - especially the first one, "Who am I?"
"Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?" (Ex 3:11)
Who is he, indeed. Only a son of the line of Levi, the line of the priests (though the priesthood hadn't been instituted yet, so maybe that doesn't count?). Only the adopted son of the previous Pharaoh's daughter and therefore the step-brother of the current Pharaoh, a Prince of Egypt. I think that makes for added misery/conflict to the whole "let my people go" saga.

Who am I is the recurrent question in most of our lives today, maybe because the narratives in our lives often say we're only average, nothing special, so we can't do anything much. Maybe we buy in to the narrative that says I must be a rich white male to do anything worth noticing, or I must be a starving genius from a third world country to be recognised. The narratives in our heads and in our books tell us that nobody notices the middle-class, working class kids, the in-betweens, who try their best because they aren't special, precocious, or obnoxious enough to be watched. Only the outliers, the very good or the very bad, the Hero or the Villian, the ones with the special talent, get the attention we crave.

We're so plagued with self-doubt and self-esteem issues as a generation (or two) that it isn't funny anymore. So we find the need to pigeon hole ourselves, to define who we are by what we do (or at least by what we do best), or who we're related to (as long as they're famous), or who we know (the more famous or infamous the better), or any other thing that can somehow make us sound better and greater than those around us. Yet the more we try to attract attention to ourselves, the worse we feel about ourselves. There was a guy who tried to kill himself because he couldn't get the "perfect selfie". Our self-esteem issues are getting way out of control.

If you were to ask me who I am, I could give you a myriad lables, depending on who you are to me. I am a daughter, a cousin, a niece, an auditor, a writer, an editor, a singer, an actress, a worship leader, a dancer, a Christian, a child of God, a failure, a winner, a manager, a teacher, a blogger, a thinker, a reader, a hoarder, a single, a young adult.
These are the sum of my parts, but they are not all of me. I'm more complex that these titles imply, and yet, I use them because it's simpler that way, and if I were to excel in something (oh look, I edited a book that's on the bestseller list - I AM NOW SOMEBODY) then that's a way to bolster up my faltering ego, to prove to myself (and others) that I can do something.

Then you get God's answer to that question: It's nothing to do with who you are.
"But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain" (Ex 3:12)
Like, what? Does that even make sense? And yet it does, because it takes the pressure off little ole fragmented you, and puts it all on the great big God of creation. It means that it doesn't matter who you think you are, or how much you doubt and hate yourself. All that really matters is that God Himself has chosen you and has promised to be with you until what He's called you to do has come to pass.

It's a difficult answer to come to terms with; it's one I struggle with most frequently. My inadequacies and failures often feel like a millstone around my neck, dooming me to further failures - sometimes not because I'm not good enough, but because I don't believe I am, therefore I don't see the need to try. There is a desperate need to change that narrative in my head, to still the voices that whisper "if you don't try at least you won't fail." And maybe that's why I've been coming face-to-face with an overwhelming wall of love, as if God is standing in my way saying, "look here, I've told you this before and I'm telling you this again, and I'm just going to shove it in your face until it gets into your head."

I'm desperate for a Word to tell me what to do, where to go, and all I keep getting is Anna, I love you. You're precious and special to me. Who you are is more important than what you do. I've called you, yes I've called you, but first and foremost, I've called you to be Mine. Anna, listen. Trust me. You don't need to 'love me enough' because I have love enough for both of us. I have faith enough to keep you going. I am that passion in your soul you've been holding tightly to. I am that song in your ear you've been listening for. I am the words in your heart you've been trying to write. Everything you've done for Me I know, I see, I remember. Your faithfulness is your righteousness, your steadfastness is proof enough of your love. I am a jealous God and I am jealously in love with you. I am a jealous God and I am jealously guarding you for Me.

Who am I then?
There's only one fitting answer to that question: I am His. 

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