One of the shows we have really enjoyed at our house is Once Upon a Time. Last night was the season premiere, and everything changed. The basic premise of the show is that our favorite fairy tale characters have been cursed and transported to our modern time to a modern town called Storybrook. However they had no recollection of their former lives or their true identities. Throughout the last season, we, the audience, discovered who the people in the town really were as the story lines masterfully flashed back and forth between fairy tale land and the “real” world.
Snow White was an elementary teacher who was overly nice to everyone and often played the victim. She didn’t guard her heart, and when everyone in the town turned on her, she was the helpless victim. Prince Charming had been in a coma as an unidentified patient in the hospital. He fell in love with Snow White, but was married to someone else. He was so passive he couldn’t make a choice between the two women. Even when he tried to, he miserably made a mess of everything.
But last night everything changed. In the season premiere, the curse was broken and all of the characters knew their true identity. Now instead of weak, passive, indecisive characters, a strong, passionate, decisive prince and princess emerged. Snow White fought off a terrifying creature with a lighter and hair spray, and she refused to lose her daughter again and jumped into an unknown spinning portal. The Prince calmed an angry mob, and became the guardian of his grandson. The characters transformed right before our eyes.
It reminded me of a discussion I heard a few weeks ago on Midday Connection. They were talking about how a person discovers “God’s will” for their lives. (I always try to figure out how I would answer those kind of questions in case I’m ever on Midday Connection. Ha!) They talked about how some people feel God has a very clear Plan A for everyone to follow. Others feel that finding “God’s will is more like a big circle, as you are in the general vicinity you’re in “God’s will.”
As I reflected on my own journey in discovering “God’s will” for my life, it has been directly tied to knowing who I am. Ever since elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher. When I went to college and prayed about my major, I felt like God said, “Pick something you like. I can use you no matter what.” He made me to love words and books. He made me to be a teacher. Therefore I majored in English education. I taught in public school for two years and loved it.
But God’s calling in our lives is not always about a specific job. When we moved to Tennessee, I stopped working full time in the school system. But in my heart, I still loved teaching, so I tutored and taught ESL. But then my passions and experiences started shifting. I began volunteering more in women’s ministry and found opportunities for leadership and eventually teaching.
When I was 30, I felt the need to figure out where I was going. I looked at my personality strengths and weaknesses. I looked at what experiences God had already given to me and my spiritual gifts. I looked at what I was passionate about, what made me cry and pound the table, and what other people affirmed in me. I walked away with four words when I looked at how God made me: lead, teach, speak and write.
Now instead of being ashamed that I like to be the center of attention in large crowds, I embrace it as part of how God made me to do what he called me to do. Instead of letting my unique view of the world make me feel like I don’t belong, I share it with anyone who will listen. Instead of saying “I can’t write a book; I don’t have time,” I purposefully take steps to make time to write. Now that I know who I am, everything changes.
Most importantly I’ve learned that I am truly His Princess, deeply loved and pursued by the King. My identity and purpose come from Him, from who He made me to be. He didn’t make me a weak, passive, quiet, indecisive person. He made me a strong, passionate, loud and tall woman. He didn’t make me perfect or without flaw, but he does love me and delight in me.
The more I know that I am deeply loved, the more courage I have to live as I truly I am. I am no longer under the curse of death, bound to live by the flesh. Now I have been blessed with abundant, overflowing life. When I know who I am, I know what “fits” me. I don’t spend my time doing the things I should do or feel obligated to do to make other people happy. I do the things I was made to do, the things the King has asked me to do in the context He has placed me.
For example, I have learned that even though I’m a decent gardener, I don’t really love it. I don’t spend time thinking about how much I miss being outside or wish I could spend more time outdoors. Last week I walked out of my daughter’s school after volunteering in her class and realized I don’t have the desire to spend more time there. I feel guilty about saying that, but I have to pay attention to it. Otherwise I’m signing up for everything at school and not having any time to write or meet with other women, things that I love doing.
Like the characters in Storybrook, when I know who I am, I can step into everything God made me to do. This is why knowing yourself is so important. In our Christian culture we have made self-discovery into something that is self-centered and prideful. However my friend Jenny Watson said that’s like walking through the Louvre and commenting on the frames and the building, but never taking the time to study the masterpieces within. When I neglect to discover who I am, I don’t have the courage to live as I was made to live. When I don’t know that I’m a daughter of the King, I am weak, passive and indecisive. But when I see myself as He made me to be, I can face challenges I never thought I could. I can make courageous choices, even if I look crazy to everyone around me. I am free to be who I truly am.
How has knowing yourself helped you discover God’s will in your life?