Everybody wants to know who they are. I think it’s such a big cultural obsession right now, especially in my generation. It’s in our books, movies, music, social media, etc. Not only is it everywhere, but it’s attractive. The thought of knowing who you are, what makes you an individual in our society, is appealing, and for the longest time, I fell into this trap.
Don’t get me wrong, it is not a bad thing to know who you are, or to want to. I believe that knowing who you are is very, very important. I was just searching for myself in all the wrong places. I looked at the people around me, and fell into depression, and eventually an eating disorder. I looked to my grades, my hobbies, my clubs at school and my relationship status. A few months ago, I even spent a whole night writing down the things that I loved and enjoyed and why I feel the way I do about certain Disney movies and characters, hoping that that would somehow tell me who I am. I tried to define myself by these things, and put myself into a box: a personality type, the kind of person I am, what I like and dislike.
Is it any wonder that I didn’t find who I was in these ways?
I searched for myself for years, in all the wrong places. It brought me nothing but numbness, hunger, and frustration.
So I stopped trying. I can’t remember if it was a conscious giving up on trying to find myself or if I just stopped trying as hard, but I did. I focused more on straightening out my relationship with God, which I have been struggling with for a long time- probably about as long as I’ve been “searching for myself”. I stopped worrying about “who I am” and just focused on knowing who God is.
And something changed in me.
I don’t know when it happened, or even 100% how, but my relationship in God went from struggling to even stay a thing to living in the joy of Him. I finally found joy– something I’ve been wanting since I lost it four years ago. I’ve known who God is since I was a kid, and I’ve known of His love, but something happened in my heart and my mind, and my soul was suddenly filled with the realization of how good He is. My soul was filled with joy and hope and love.
For me, joy is an inner peace that no matter what the situation or circumstance, He is still there and He is still good. I have major depressive disorder, and it is a lot better than it has been in the past, but sometimes, depression comes out of no where and hits me hard for a few days. Ever since I’ve discovered this joy, I’m able to persist stronger and better. I’m still depressed in these moments, but at the same time, I have a peaceful joy in my soul. Things are still hard with my mental illnesses overall, but the joy of the Lord is my strength.
After searching for myself in all the wrong places for so many years, I stopped looking. And when I stopped looking is when I found a clearer image of my Creator. When I found Him, I saw myself better. Who I am isn’t defined by the things I like, what my MBI personality type is, or who I hang out with. Who I am is 100%, solely found in God. I am my best self when I look through His eyes. The inexpressible joy that the Bible talks about is now mine, and I feel it deep in my soul.
I found myself. I found myself in God. As explained in the Hillsong United song, “I found my life when I laid it down”. It’s a beautiful, freeing feeling to finally know who I am, and I believe it’s even more freeing to find that in Jesus rather than anything else.