Who Were YOU? (also known as “Leave your Mat!”)
“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” This quote from Charles Bukowski came into my life in the middle of last week via a magazine article in a doctor’s office and left me dumbfounded ~ spinning in circles. “Wow … what IS my answer to this?” I was left without words, grappling with this thought in a free fall without a net. Who was I really ~ before the world told me who I was supposed to be?!?!
In this great irony we call life, I posted the quote on Faceboook since it latched on to me and wouldn’t let go. It seems like a great idea at the time, but in hindsight I see the humor in my choice since I was once again reaching out to the world to tell me the answer.
A few family members pondered the thought with me and chimed in (thanks Joyce and Bill) ~ and then as only God can do ~ I attended something called a “Freedom Encounter” at New Life at the end of the week on Saturday that not only reaffirmed Joyce’s comment, but also shined a light on my own answer.
If you have never attended a Freedom Encounter, it is an eye-opening, life changing experience that will lighten your heart, renew your spirit, and free your soul from things you didn’t even realize were weighing you down. This was the second year I attended, and it only took me half way through the first encounter last year to know that I would NEVER want to miss the ones to follow.
So — for almost a week I had been stewing about who I was before the world told me who I was, really without even an inkling of an answer – still lost in the sea of my own thoughts. Then, we hit the third session of the day, Identity Wars. When a video of Christine Caine was shared, I knew why that quote riddled me for the week – I was getting my answer, right now and how!
The part of the video we watched revolved around the story of the paralyzed man beside the healing pool in John 5. Here was a man that for 38 years, laying within reach of being healed, watching others go in and out of the pool for healing, and yet could never quite reach the healing for himself due to his paralysis. For 38 years, his condition defined him, was part of who he was. Jesus sees him and says, “Do you want to get well?”
At first, it seems like a silly question, but – really, do we want to get well or do we want to hold onto our failures that we wear as a part of our identity? How many of us are paralyzed by our situation, afraid to truly let go of our issues – our mat – and leave it behind without turning back? How many of us have made that mat a part of our identitity, a part of how we define ourselves?
To say a light bulb went off is an understatement! The realization of the answer – I had had forgotten who I was because I had been defining myself by my issues, permitting myself to get stuck, and not allowing myself to truly let go of my mat! I had given my “mat” to God multiple times, yet I kept going back and picking it back up as that is what I was used to. If we truly want to move forward, we need to follow Jesus’s instruction in verse 8 and “Get up! Pick up our mat and walk.”
Along with so many other revelations at the Encounter … I am leaving my mat for good – I am who God says I am: Even before the earth was formed, God loved me and chose me… (Ephesians 1:4, Jeremiah 1:5). The Father has given me LOVE, that I should be called a child of God; and so I am (1 John 3:1). I am a daughter of the King (Galatians 3:26), and will let my light shine before others (Matthew 5:16)!