Growing up I had a deep love for baseball. Some of my life’s fondest memories are connected to the late afternoon humidity of the summer. I was meticulous about how my polyester uniform looked…perfectly tucked with the stirrups precise. The smell of grass mingling with the grilled hamburgers in the concession stand. The electricity of anticipation for the game coupled with the hope that an interested girl would be in the stands was a drug to my early teenage body. I was pretty good at the game during those years. I made league All-Star teams and typically played 1st base or another infield position. As a kid you dream, and those dreams usually center around whatever it is you love the most. For me, playing baseball the rest of my life sounded like an ideal way to spend my time. However, as my teen years evolved a painful reality began to set in. My genetic make-up was not pre-disposed to athletic greatness. Eventually I had to let my first childhood love go and to this day, as ridiculous as it sounds, I still subtly miss those summer nights.
In retrospect, my love for baseball combined with my natural deficiencies serves as a tremendous lesson. I understand we live in a “chase your dreams”, “you can do anything you put your mind to” society. We even allow that to transcend into our faith as we take a verse like “I can do all things through Christ” and attempt to contort it into fail proof axiom. I have spent the last couple of years speaking into the identity of others. The book I have written (Let Your Heart Go Free), largely focuses on re-routing our thinking into a legitimate understanding of what exactly Jesus accomplished for us and how that shapes our identity. It is absolutely vital that we know who we ARE.
Simultaneously it is equally important to know who we aren’t. As much as we need to embrace all that we are, with as much comfort and ease we must embrace who we are not. I could have spent my whole life trying to be a baseball player, but I was not wired for that to be my life’s work. Some may say I gave up on a dream…to that I respond, what if you are dreaming the wrong dreams? This may sound like the anti-motivational speech, but an unwillingness to embrace who we aren’t leads to pervasive disappointment and self-frustration.
In case you need biblical precedent for this line of thinking, consider Moses. For a season of his life the Lord preserved him in the house of Egypt as a part of the royal family. It would have been easy to assume the means by which he was to fulfill his calling was from within the walls of the palace. Yet his prophetic destiny required him to leave behind who he was not in order to sufficiently embrace who he was. I am intrigued by the idea that for a season, Moses was indeed an Egyptian, but it was not intended for him to forever remain such.
There is something liberating in embracing who you are not…Often, functioning at the maximum of who we really are demands we willingly identify who we are not.
One more anecdote…For a few years in my ministry life I was a worship leader. I led worship in youth services and in one church I was the main Sunday morning worship leader. I had a decent voice and absolutely loved leading people into God’s presence, but I couldn’t play an instrument and wasn’t naturally musically inclined. Our ministry journey eventually took us to a place where the musical talent was incredible and the anointing carried by the lead worshippers was palpable. I had a choice to make. I had to embrace fully that I was not a worship leader in the traditional sense. As long as I diverted attention in that direction I would never give preaching and writing the focus it requires. I could spend my life being a mediocre to poor worship leader and an average preacher/writer or I could embrace who I am not and sink myself into who I am. You can judge the quality of the writing and preaching but I am absolutely confident of this…I am way better at talking than singing…haha