Free to be

Imagine this: you’re walking down the street on a hot, sticky, sunny afternoon. In the crook of your right arm are three slightly worn library books. There aren’t too many people outside, probably because of the weather. You’re walking to the nearby library to return those dang books that you had gotten bored of within the first 10 pages.

Maybe a visual would help.

P1040761Now imagine that you’ve been thinking about starting a blog for quite some time, and while you’re walking down the street to return the library books that you didn’t read, it finally hits you- the name of your blog (which, like the library books, will probably never be read… I hope you haven’t given up on me yet.)

You guessed it: that was me. Good job with the imagining. You’ve successfully put yourself in my shoes. Metaphorically, that is.

Along with the three library books I was returning, there were several others at my apartment that I hadn’t started yet. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, on the other hand, was a book that I had read in high school and had checked out again. Walking to the library, I was reflecting on Gretchen’s first commandment: “Be Gretchen.” Or in my case, “Be Jacqueline.”

“Be (insert your name here).” Do you find this easy? Honestly think about it. When do you find yourself not being you? Is it easier at times to compromise your individuality, your likes, your dislikes to please others or fit in?

… I kind of feel like I’m giving a motivational talk to a group of 7th graders right now…

American culture emphasizes individualism: it teaches that life is about living for ourselves and our pleasure. I’ve found (and maybe you have, too) that it’s also easy to live for our own comfort: to focus on bring accepted rather than to live in a way that allows us to embrace who we really are.

Okay- vulnerability time. I don’t really like animals all that much. I mean, I love them (seeing that they are beautiful, purposeful creations) but I just have no particular fondness of them nor do I desire to spend my free time playing with them. Sure, they are super cute (especially baby animals). Naturally, I’ll play with them, pet them, and feed them when it is my responsibility to do so. I just don’t enjoy being slobbered on, sat on, and/or peed on without my consent. Not sorry.

-End rant-

Yes, I am aware of this mindset.
Yes, I am aware of this mindset.

So why is this relevant? For a long time, I wouldn’t admit this to myself or others, but recently I’ve been embracing the whole “be Jacqueline” mindset. So, in thinking of a title for my blog (which only exists because I was able to think of a title for it), I decided on this whole “Be you” theme. #cliche

So now enter the whole ” waling to the library” scene. Here’s what was going through my mind: what does it really look like to be fully, unapologetically, unashamedly ourselves? That’s kind of a big question, and it evoked another question. Who am I? This question must be answered before we can choose to be fully ourselves.

We are all unique and have special gifts, talents, preferences, and identities. One thing we all have in common, however, is that we are all children of a King. No matter our special gifts, talents, preferences, and identities, being children of the King is the highest and most valuable identity that we hold. In Him, we are free to be completely ourselves and embrace the fact that we don’t like animals, but we love babies; that we only really eat vegetables to balance out all the baked goods we eat; that we’re outgoing introverts. (And by “we,” I actually mean me.) Along with being able to be unashamedly ourselves, we must also remember that we sin. So although I may love and enjoy cookies, this part of me does not give me permission to be a glutton and eat 12 dozen cookies in a day. (Dream. Life.) The reason that I don’t have “permission” to eat those cookies is because my identity as a daughter of the King trumps my identity as a cookie-lover.

Shoot. YAY! Ugh…

Have you guys ever heard the idea that freedom does not mean that we can do whatever we want to do, but rather that we are free to choose to do what’s right. Usually this idea is shared in a Christian context (at least in my experience). Well up until this point in my library walk, I had completely hated disagreed with this concept. Every time someone would mention it, I would think “NO! Freedom is the right to do whatever we want, and morality is choosing to do what’s right.” Well, the whole glutton and cookie lover analogy pretty much threw that mindset out the window. Hence the “Shoot. YAY! Ugh…” which was my initial reaction to the fact that I finally figured out the whole freedom thing and then realized the implications: I need to be striving to be the best version of myself. To do so, I must be fully myself: a sinner, redeemed by grace and mercy, who has plenty of quirks and imperfections, and is continuously being called to be loved and to be a saint.

So, readers, I challenge you. Take time to reflect on what really makes you you. Once you’ve done that, make a conscious effort to live those things out. Do things that you enjoy. If you find yourself doing something that doesn’t line up with who you are, stop doing it. Unless you’re in the middle of a highway and you remember that you don’t like driving or something. Please don’t stop. Please be safe. (Wow, I definitely did not plan for this post to end so morbidly.)

Remember folks- you are free to be you.

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