"But you," He asked them, "who do you say that I am?" Matthew 16:15
I have experienced so many life changes in the last twelve months. I have released, I have cried, I have forgiven, I have gotten upset and angry, and I have gone through that process again. I have acknowledged and accepted things, and I have let them go. I moved almost a thousand miles away to pursue a dream and to walk in the purpose that God has placed on my life. In that time, I have become more myself than I have ever been. No longer do I focus on what others say and think of me. No longer do I allow the thoughts of others to control and manipulate me. No longer am I my truest self within the confines of my home, but the Marquita that walks outside of her apartment now is the Marquita that I was born to become and more and more each day I embrace her with love, acceptance and honor.
I have had several realizations lately. I have acknowledged strengths, acknowledged that I too long focused on making my weaknesses better–like attempting to not be so emotional, not be so affected by things. I tried to shut myself off and become someone I am not. As I was thinking of how things that have happened over the last year have affected me–pregnancies, engagements, marriages, and countless other things that have gone on in the lives of my friends–my family, and I thank God for moving me so that I would not have had to experience some of these hurts in their faces. I took on their pain at times, because that is what I have always done. In other cases God equipped me with immeasurable strength, the strength to be there and console them and encourage them with my own testimony of similar occurrences. I embarked on this journey of self-improvement and wound up meeting God.
As I thought last night and today about two simple words shared with me last night at dinner by a woman I met through a networking event because of law school, who has blessed my journey here with the opportunity to further network and make a name for myself in the legal community down here, her words–be yourself–rang out clearly in my mind. I thought what they meant, for the first time with a clear head. And God reminded me of a person who always was, always is, and always will be himself. Jesus.
How was Jesus himself? He did three things:
– He knew who He was.
– He knew what His purpose was. And
– He did and fulfilled His purpose by being Himself at all times.
From the time Jesus was twelve, He was walking in His purpose, amazing theologians with the depth of understanding of scripture, so engrossed in His Father’s work that His parents and family unknowingly left Him behind in Jerusalem. He told His parents after they asked Him why did He make them anxious in looking for Him: ‘And he said unto them, How is it that you sought me? knew you not that I must be about my Father’s business?’ (Luke 2:49) He knew who He was. Do you know who you are? At the top of that list should be, I am a child of God.
After He was baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus was sent into the wilderness to be prepared. I’ve come to understand that the wilderness is not to harm us but to equip us with all the tools necessary to effectively do the work to which we are called. The wilderness strengthens us, grooms us and prunes us. But if we do not know who we are, how can we be sustained when we are in the wilderness? Look again at Jesus: Luke 4:1 states: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Later after His fast, Jesus was then tempted by the devil. But every time, Jesus overcame the enemy with the Word of God. I also add He used the Word with authority–why? Because He knew who He was. The wilderness isolates you to reveal to you your specific purpose and assignment. It will also purge and prune you of habits and attitudes and behaviors, even people, that will hinder you from being successful. It will also build your faith, if you allow it. Jesus knew what His purpose was. He knew He was the lamb of God, to be sacrificed for all of us.
Finally after overcoming the enemy, Jesus went forward to preach and heal and deliver and save, ministering for 3 years and changing the world as we know it. His pursuits empowered others to follow in His footsteps, even in death, to bring salvation to this world. Jesus did this by being himself, being who He was called to be. Not compromising, not changing Himself for anyone’s acceptance and approval. He was able to know the thoughts of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the leaders of the Synagogues so that He was able to remind them of God’s word. He was Himself, and this is the same thing we are called to do. Be that man and woman He is calling to you. He is speaking to your heart, telling you to drop the pretenses and be authentic, not just at home but with everyone, everywhere. He is calling you to let your lights shine before men. He is calling you to step out in faith in Him and be like Jesus. When I read that I was being transformed to the image of Christ, I honestly thought I understood what that meant. But yesterday and today I realize being like Jesus is so much more than ministering to others, because if you minister to others and still reflect yourself, you taint the Word and can cause others to turn away from Christ. To be like Christ is to be yourself, is to be the man or woman He preordained for you to be, is to walk in the purpose He planted in your heart. The only way to discover your purpose is to seek God, and to seek Him in Spirit and truth.
So on this journey, these last twelve months, I have only glimpsed my true self. Each day I become more Marquita than I ever was. I have learned to not concern myself with what other people think of me, getting myself all bent out of shape and stressed trying to fit some false mold. I extend love to everybody now, especially those that have hurt me because it is not about me, but about them seeing Jesus in me. When you are the real you, walking in purpose, walking in favor, walking in truth, Jesus is easily reflected in you. So I encourage you, to thy own self be true. You can only ascend higher if you allow God to take you higher…
Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates? 2 Corinthians 13:5