Flaw: The Search Out There
Law: The Discovery In Here
“Identity is like a pattern drawn on a tightly stretched parchment. Touch just one part of it, just one allegiance, and the whole person will react, the whole drum will sound.” – Amin Maalouf
When I was in graduate school studying opera, one of the requirements of my studies was logging much, much time in the Listening Lab. The purpose of spending hours every week at a tiny cubicle with headphones and opera scores was to train my ear on the greatest voices throughout the centuries so that I could learn how they did what they did. In essence, I was learning to mimic the technique of greatness.
The dichotomy of this exercise was that I would show up to my voice lessons in tears with a new aria in hand, exasperatedly crying, “I don’t sound like so-and-so when I sing this!” On one particular occasion (and let me say that I don’t blame him one iota for losing his cool), my trusted voice teacher stood up, kicked over the piano bench, and screamed a few expletives, followed by, “YOU ARE NOT BEVERLY SILLS, STACEY!!!”
Stunned by his declaration and wounded by this glaringly obvious truth, I stormed across campus in tears, replaying the scene and shouting in my head, “Well, duh, I know I’m not Beverly Sills. That’s the problem!”
I think we can all agree pretty quickly that not being a famous opera singer, whose heyday was before I was born, was not my problem.
The (apparently annoying and) real dilemma was that I didn’t know who I was.
Here at The Flaws, Tabatha and I are passionate about creating healthy friendships so that women can stay when it’s hard, laugh when it’s good, and celebrate friendships built to last! We love and cherish the joy that it brings to our lives, but if you dig deeper, right into the center of our hearts, it’s legacy we’re after. We know that friends who are healthy build things together that matter, and those things benefit not only us, but our families, our friends, our communities, and the world!
There is no greater threat to legacy, however, than two (or more) people in a relationship who are grasping for identity while choking the life out of each other to find it.
Unless you recognize and celebrate who you are individually and how you fit together collectively, you will consistently compare what you bring to the table to what she brings and despise her offerings if you judge them better than yours.
That’s no way to stay, laugh, and celebrate anything!
What I came to understand after that horrendous day in my voice teacher’s studio was that, though I can and should learn from others, if I was supposed to be someone else, then I would have been born someone else (profound, I know). I may not be Beverly Sills, but danggit, she wasn’t me either.
To be anyone else would mean that I would have to give up the traits and life experiences that make me. . . me, and even though I may admire someone else’s gifts or status in life, I would never be happy living as anyone else, no matter how gifted or talented I was! To quote Pastor Bill Johnson, “If you knew who God created you to be, you would never want to be anyone else.” That’s so true!
Identity is such a cool thing. I can’t lose it or give it away, though at times I’ve tried and then blamed the other person for having stolen it. No one in the world has the power to take or copy the indelible blueprint of God that pulses through every breathing cell of my body, mind and soul. Identity goes much, much deeper than we sometimes realize or give it (and God) credit for, and we must have confidence in it much more than we sometimes want to fight for.
I’m not a slice of myself here and another slice there. Who I am doesn’t change depending on who I’m with or what I might be doing at any given moment. Everywhere I go, I am the sum of all my parts, which include my unique, complex design, thoughts, choices, experiences, character, and the way I relate to others inside the systems and structures of life. In other words, I will never find my identity apart from what guides my heart and actions on a daily basis, combined with all that got me to this moment.
If I know that, then I understand that my identity is not found by a search “out there,” but an unveiling of “within.” I am not waiting on someone else to tell me who I am or validate my hunches. My identity is my story and my design, and it never leaves me. Therefore, no one else has a right to it, nor should I be shaken by accusation or doubt that will come my way to question it.
I am not anything other than that which, when touched only partially, makes the whole drum of me sound, and there is no one else alive who knows that sound but me when it comes to me. I am not alive to mimic the greatness of someone else, so much as to recognize its sound from the inside of me. Some would say that's prideful, but those who do would not understand the road of humility and sorrow it took to get to the place before God, the One who only makes beautiful things, only to realize I might be one of them.
Friendship is one of the greatest incubators I know that comes face-to-face with who I am and who she is and allows the space to work it out, flaws and all. It changes the question of Who Am I? in this relationship to Who Are You?—because who I am has been settled in me:
- I have a unique heavenly blueprint
- I am the sum of that blueprint, along with my experiences, choices, and my way of relating to the world that is specific to me
- My identity is woven into me and cannot be taken or given away
- My identity is not a search for me “out there” but an exciting, fluid discovery and practice of what lives inside of me
- I choose to bravely live out what I discover with those around me, and all I ask is that they do the same with me
The journey of identity in friendship, or any relationship for that matter, has to first begin with a personal revelation of identity. Once we can celebrate who we are, then we’re ready to truly celebrate who they are. This is the stuff of legacy.
On the podcast this week, we’re going to talk through some questions and struggles we have had in own journeys with identity, how friendship has challenged us to become whole, and how healing is making us better… together.
𝙿𝚛𝚊𝚢𝚎𝚛: “Oh God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is.” - Sister Macrina Wiederkehr
𝙰𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗: Listen for God's Love, Walk Out His Truth.
1.) Let's Celebrate You in Two (Minutes):
So often as daughters of God, we forget that our identity comes from the One who knit it into the very fibers of our being, as we each grew within the wombs of our mothers. We must learn to pause, step into the presence, and allow Papa God to remind us of who He created us to be. For the next few minutes, close your eyes (you can even turn on a beautiful song to help you relax):
- Ask God to come near to you and say out loud, "Father God, What do you love about me and who you created me to be?" Let Him Speak
- Think about what you see and how you feel, and say out loud, "Father God, can I come back to this place any time I want?" Let Him Speak
2.) Take 5-10 minutes to write, journal, or draw your encounter with God.
- Save your work as a reminder to check in with God.
- Allow Him, during these times, to remind you of who you are and help you to walk out what He reveals, with total faith and trust in the One that knows you best.
Ending Declaration: I am who God says that I am! I no longer have to be afraid of who He created me to be. I break off the search for who I am and praise God for depositing everything I need within the core of my very being. I cancel the assignment on my life that has not allowed me to step into all I was created to be. I choose to love myself. I choose to partner with God's truth about me and believe it, love it and bravely live out "ME". Amen.
"When I have learned to love myself, it is only then that I will have the ability to truly love at all." - Tabatha Haines