Dear reader, stop for a second and think; what or who is defining you?
During the earlier days of my gap year, there were certain losses that took place that had my world shaking. I lost job opportunities, university aspirations and friendships. Through it all I definitely had what I would call an 'Identity crisis'. I found myself questioning who I was and what I was called to be and while I think it is important to find out who you are and what your purpose is, you shouldn't let the trials of this world make you question all that God has made you to be and called you to do. We live in a society that defines us by our successes and so many other things, we are defined by our social groups and where we find ourselves in that social ladder that many of us so desperately want to climb, who we know, who we've dated, by our Instagram likes/followers, by the phones we have, clothes we wear and the bags we carry, whether our frontal slays or not, the number of people we have slept with, if any and so on and so forth. I soon got sick of it, allowing everything else but God define who I was each and every day and in each and every way and so here I was, stripped of all I had thought gave meaning to my life and I essentially had to rediscover not just who I was as a person but who I am as a member of God's chosen generation and a daughter of the Highest.
This I believe is so vital in the journey of self-discovery as, if you do not know who you are in Christ, you will be very lost in this world. I had to ask myself these questions and I suggest you ask yourself too.
What happens when you fail that test, lose that job, lose those friends, potentially lose the approval of your family members, lose that great body? Do you lose yourself too?
When that inevitable disappointment comes in whatever shape size or form, do you crawl into your shell saying, "Maybe I'm not good enough" Maybe they were right, I'm not that smart/ beautiful/ talented/e.t.c"?
For some of you, the answers will be no, for a few, you might not be sure how you will react because maybe you have not been tested to that extent yet, but for many of us, our answer is yes. When our world shakes, we question our entire existence and that dear reader is a level of confusion that God never called you to experience. For that reason, he explicitly defines who we are in his word. But, firstly you must understand that it's not necessarily about who you are, it's about whose you are and from there you learn more about who you actually are.
So, the first thing you must know is that you are a Child of God. But, who is God?
God is a patient father but can also be a mother, brother, sister, best friend or lover. God is a merciful Lord, who from all things were created and only under his breath can all things stand. His word never fails and will will be done. He is gracious and loving, caring and understanding. He cherishes those he loves and will never forsake his people. He is constantly working out everything for the good of those who love him.
This is who God is to me but on the website below, you can find out more about who the Bible says God is:
In respect of all of this, who can I then say that I am?
Here are a few prompts in finding out who you are in Christ and who he has called you to be ;
What does God say about you as his son/daughter? See Who does God say I am
What are God's promises for his people? See Deuteronomy 28
What is the meaning of your name? This was personally very beautiful for me to know.
Which Bible Character can I relate best to? Once you stop reading the Bible as a story and more of a biography, then it's easy to be inspired and see that if the same spirit that lives in those people, lives in you, then you are more than able
Who and what are you made of? I'd suggest you study more about being made in God's image and having the Holy Spirit dwell in you.
I'd also suggest you find your own Bible verse that you can recite when you need to be reminded of who you are. My personal favourite is Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. To me it means that I can overcome every difficulty, I can break through every chain, live through any disappointment, become whoever I want to be because I am backed by the strength of God.
So, dear reader, if you will learn anything from my journey, learn that you are not defined by your circumstances; neither your successes nor your disappointments define who you are. You are neither your success nor your failure, neither your likes nor your comments, your friends nor your family, your bank account nor your wardrobe, your university nor your degree course, your grades nor your job. You are not defined by anything on this earth. If you believe in God and all that he says that you are then do not let the noise of this world cloud your thoughts on all that he says you are.
What do you think you are worth?
No, please don’t picture the life you wish for or your ideal situation.
Based on your life right now what life/relationship/friendship/ e.t.c do you think you are worth?
If what you think you’re worth doesn’t match or exceed your ideal situation, then, you have a tainted view of your self-worth.
Worth is the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated. However in the case of us Christians, you aren’t worth it because you are deserving of it, you are worth it because of his grace. You can tell the worth of something by how much it’s valued at and you were valued at the cross, with the Saviours blood.You see, I used to get it wrong, thinking “oh if I do A, B or C then I’d be worth it” but I’ve come to understand that what I am worth is not because of what I do but because of who I am and that is God’s chosen one, his daughter.
For the longest time, I settled for less than what I desired for myself and what I was worth simply because I wasn’t fully aware of what exactly I was worth in the first place. I have found my self in toxic relationships and friendships with people where I was treated below what God intended for my life and I stuck with them because I either wasn’t sure I could find better let alone was worth I better and I was too scared to let go in case that truly was the best I could do for myself. But those dear reader, are lies. Lies that the devil feeds us daily telling us we are even lucky to be in that situation because we aren’t worthy of that talk less of much more, lies of how Gods’ promises come to past but surely not in our own lives because we do not qualify for it. As I wrote last weeks post, I realised that how much I valued myself and what I deemed myself worthy of was almost a direct reflection of how I saw myself. Essentially, an Identity crisis leads to a self-worth crisis.Sometimes we accept what we wouldn’t ordinarily accept because we have a tainted image of ourselves and we think we would never find better because we aren’t exactly sure we are worthy of better.
You are worthy of not just better but the best. God came that you may have life and life abundantly, not so you could merely be surviving.
As my gap year draws to an end, I have been doing a lot of reflection on how the year has progressed and how much I have grown through all the challenges that I have endured and one of the most important things I’ve come to a conclusion on is that, I am worth it. And so are you. However, though as Christians we are all entitled to God's perfect will and desires for our lives, I believe that the choices we make determine the future we experience. You being worthy of something doesn’t mean that thing will be served to you on a platter of gold. You don’t have to work for what you’re worthy of but you have to work to get it. So, in order to enjoy the life, you are worthy of living, you need to, first of all, live like you are worth it. Confusing, I know.
Here are some not so easy but very important steps to take in order to step into the life you are worthy of living.
Remember, if the one who sees you completely (your flaws your imperfections, your insecurities and even your SINS), if he loves you just the way you are, why should you care if someone who doesn’t know even half of who you are, judges you and doesn’t like you? Be it that really attractive girl/boy, that super cool group of people, that aunt e.t.c. why should your self-worth and Identity be found in them who are probably also relying on others for their own self-worth? Rise up and affirm yourself in Christ.
Leave those toxic relationships and friendships and stop settling for less. No buts, it’s as plain as day, you are worth more.
Surround yourself with people who know their self-worth and would help remind you of yours. If your “squad” is unaware best believe you’d soon begin to compromise.
Remind yourself how God sees you and remind yourself of his promises for your life.
Stop doing things that people who are worthy of receiving God’s promises won’t do. God’s grace is sufficient but that doesn’t mean be foolish. That amazing life God has promised you isn’t coming to you while you sleep on your bed. Get up and work it like you’re worth it because you are.
Over the years, I have seen so many articles about self-love where they talk about loving your body, your face, your external features. As I read all these things, I said to myself why is it that I am perfectly content with my external features but I still don’t seem to love myself. Isn’t that what self-love is?
As I have matured in the word and actually sought God out for myself, not merely reading articles, books or watching sermons (which are all edifying don’t get me wrong,) but going to the source, God himself and his word, I have gotten a deeper understanding of loving yourself. So, here is my self-learned version of self-love.
God has always been a God of the inside out, working from within and so it makes perfect sense that he’d want you to love yourself from the inside out and not the other way around. While I’m not ignoring the real and deep struggles of loving how you look in the mirror, I have found the deeper battles to be what you think of yourself and whether you love who you are on the inside.
I’d be turning 19 in about a months time and I have been thinking deeply about what I learnt during my 18-year-old life. I have learnt a lot about myself and that’s mainly been because I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with myself. Learning certain things about myself has given me the choice of either changing or sticking with it. I must acknowledge that we all have things to change about ourselves; Though God’s grace accepts us just the way we are, it will never leave us the same. There are however some fundamental personality attributes we all have that are the core of who we are and as you’ve probably heard a million times, don’t try to be someone else because everyone else is already taken. This is something I had to realise for myself, that I am who I am, beautifully unique, weirdly different, purposefully designed and specifically positioned. Realising this also made me realise that not everyone is going to like who I am and that’s okay but the important thing is, do I like myself?
Over the years and even more recently, I have lost a lot of relationships/ friendships for various reasons one of which was because of who I am. Whilst there is always room for improvement, I have had to accept that if I have lost these people because of the core of who I am, my personality, my faith, and all that have worked together to make me, then that’s just the way it’s going to be. There was a time where I was very telling of people’s flaws in the hopes to promote myself simply because I wasn’t sure I was good enough and the only way I thought I could get others to like me was to show them how ‘good’ I was compared to others.There are 7.4 billion people in the world, I live between two continents, have been to however many schools I’ve been to, have access to social media and other connecting groups, church e.t.c. There are certainly people I can find in all of those who will accept me just the way that I am. I had to learn to love myself irrespective of whether those around me did. Quit trying to be someone else just so you can fit in, be included, invited or involved. Quit compromising your core beliefs, your very character and your fundamental ideas just so you can be part of a certain friendship group, date a certain boy or girl, appear a certain way. No, no no no, that is not who God called you to be. You were made for more, you are more, fully worthy and deserving. God cannot bless who you pretend to be.
One of the two greatest commandments is to love each other as you love yourself. But how can you love another if you don’t even love yourself? Let me just clarify now, you may be thinking “oh but I love my family, my boyfriend, my friends but not necessarily myself”, the truth is that the love you have for them is not complete if you don’t first love yourself. When you love others without loving yourself, you love only their strengths, only the things they do right, only their perfections, why? Because those are the only things you love about yourself. But, when you love yourself completely, inside out, with all your blemishes, only then are you able to completely love people as they are, without judgement or conditions. The reason we judge one another is because we are judging ourselves, one of the reasons why we hurt one another is because we are not fully loving of ourselves. Ever since I understood this simple fact, I began to love my family more, forgive my friends always, yes always, no matter what they have done and without conditions. I began to judge people less, and though this is all a work in progress I’ve been able to radiate love to all those who surround me.
Loving yourself does not lead to pride, in my opinion, it brings about humility because you know your imperfections and you aren’t scared for others to see them because you accept yourself just the way that you are. When you love yourself, you love your strengths and your weaknesses, you love your flaws and your perfections, your struggles and your insecurities, you love all that have worked together to make you who you are today. When you love yourself, you don’t try to make your voice the loudest in the room, you know that whether or not they listen, your words are important simply because you are important, you do matter. When you love yourself you don’t need a million friends to approve a picture you take before you post it on the gram, you know, comment or no comment, 100 likes or 10 likes, you are beautiful/handsome just the way that you are. When you love yourself, you don’t need a boy to hit you up before you are secure in your femininity or a girl to open her legs for you before you are secure in your masculinity, you are sure of who you are and who God called you to be. So dear reader, please ask your self-today, when the doors are closed, the lights are off, the noise is turned down, what are the voices in your head? Are they negative voices telling you-you're not good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, worthy enough, you can never be A/B or C? or are they voices of reassurance, of acceptance, of love? When all is stripped away and you are all that remains, do you love all that is left?
Here are a few steps to take
Spend time with yourself, it’s unhealthy to spend so much time with people that you’re unable to hear your own voice. Don’t be afraid to be alone with yourself.
Spend time with God. Seek and live out an intimate relationship with him. Let him nurture you and reveal you to yourself.
Identify those negative thoughts you think about yourself and identify the roots of those thoughts i.e I don’t think I am smart because I failed my GCSE’s/A-levels/Uni e.t.c
Embrace your strengths AND weaknesses. You need to realise that both your strengths and your weaknesses make you who you are. You wouldn’t need God’s strength if you had no weakness, In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 God says to us “ My strength is made perfect in your weakness”. However as I pointed out earlier God’s grace never leaves you the same so embracing these weaknesses doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on yourself, it just means that you shouldn’t wait till you’re seemingly ‘perfect’ before you love yourself, you are already perfect in his eyes.
Speak your self-love into existence - do the #IAMCHALLENGE ( s/o to @Tiwalola for this point). I have found that the more I say to myself “I am beautiful”, the more I feel so.
Stop comparing yourself to others, you can’t play the game of comparison without sustaining a multitude of blows to your soul. See my previous post - Comparison Kills Confidence
Before I close this post, I’d love you to say this out loud ( insert your own facts)
I love that I was born a Woman
I love that I was born into the Onafowokan Family and I am the last of four children
I love that I went to all the schools I have gone to
I love that I am going to Warwick University
I love that I made the friends that I made and have the friends that I have
I love that I have been through the struggles that I have been through and I love that I have overcome and am overcoming them
I love that I have loved
I love that I have lost
And the reason I love all these things and much more is because they have all worked together to make me who I am right now and I love who that is.
The greatest battles you can ever fight are the ones within you. The way you fight your internal battles will reflect in the way you handle the external ones. Now that you’ve heard about your identity in Christ, your self-worth and understand what it means to love your self, let's handle life the right way, from the inside out, “guard(ing) our hearts because out of it flows the issues of life”.
And as John says,
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God!
1 John 3: 18-21 (MSG)