I recently read about a nurse named, Bonnie Ware, who wrote a book called The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. In her experience as a hospice nurse, she gathered people’s last moments and thoughts. Over the years, she began to see a pattern involving people’s regrets. The #1 regret she discovered?
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
After reading that, I had to ask myself, “Am I living a life true to myself?” It’s a scary question, and for most of my life, I would have had to have said no.
In no way was I living authentically. Worst of all, I wasn’t even sure what living a life true to myself meant. I mean, who was I supposed to be?
Looking back, it’s no wonder I struggled with my identity. I was looking in all the wrong places for it. Success. The validation of other people. My bank account. You name it.
But then one day, it all changed. I had lived years asking myself who I was supposed to be, not realizing I was going to the wrong source. It was like a light bulb went off when I realized it was God that I should be asking that question.
He is the one who designed me.
He is the one who crafted my mind and my emotions.
He is the one who had created a plan for my life before it even began.
Who better to ask?
His answer didn’t arrive like I expected, though. Instead of telling me to do this or do that, I heard Him in His Word reminding me of who I am. To my surprise, living a life true to myself had less to do with what I was doing and more to do with who I was becoming.
God had created me to be an honoring and loving husband, yet I had been living as a prideful and selfish one.
God had designed me with a generous heart, yet I had been living with a scarcity mindset hoarding what God had blessed me with.
God had willed for me to live with bold faith, yet I had been living with embarrassing levels of fear.
It’s not that I now have all of this figured out, it’s just that now I have a new basis for success. Instead of an ever increasing, moving target — I have a firm foundation to build my life upon. To me, living a life true to myself means living a life in obedience to who God has called me to be. Not the taller, stronger, more disciplined, more capable, more intelligent “me” I want to be. The “me” I am. The one God loves, cares about, and has compassion for.
The problem is, we are constantly being told who we should and shouldn’t be by everyone else — and we’re listening. The entertainment industry thrives on it and the social media world lives for it.
If we’re not careful, we’ll put our life on auto-pilot and buy into a persona and lifestyle we never meant to sign up for. Worst of all, we might get really good at it. You could spend your entire life trying to be someone you were never meant to. Maybe someone you’re not even capable of being.
I have to wonder if this isn’t the cause of the countless mid-life crises and celebrity burnouts we see and hear about. Deep down, we all know when we’re not living true to ourselves or up to our potential. In fact, when you read the previous line you may have even felt a dull pain in your gut.
You don’t have to live this way, though. You have a choice. You can make the brave decision to listen to the authentic voice hidden deep down inside of you. God loves the real you, right now. That’s the one He has grace and compassion for. That’s the one He has a purpose and a vision for.
Be brave and give up the facade. Life’s too short to be anything other than the “you” God created you to be.