When I was a child, pretending to be someone I wasn’t was a great means of adventure and escape. I would practice different accents and act as if I was from some other place in the world, imagining what it would be like to be a Brit or Italian.
Anything other than being a gal from Chicago.
But with age comes the recognition that I am who I am. I understand what I can do, and I work hard at doing it well.
It takes time to be comfortable in your skin, to own your talents and traits with hope and joy.
We had the privilege of attending our oldest grand Ethan’s senior night soccer game. He’s played soccer more years than he hasn’t, and he’s developed quite the skill set doing it.
Every child who plays soccer wants to be the one who scores the goals. Goals win games, and at the end of a game, no one cares that the backfield and goalkeeper saved a number of shots. The score reflects goals in the net. Ethan realized fairly early that his talent was in reading the field well, distributing the ball, and defending his goalkeeper.
As I watch Ethan play, I’m amazed at his cool demeanor, how he calmly takes control of the ball, clears it out of the backfield, makes passes that allow others to score goals. Every now and then he takes the ball on his own and runs the field which allows him to score sometimes.
His strength is in the backfield. And he knows it. His watchfulness, consistency, and unhassled demeanor give cohesiveness to those in defense.
Becoming comfortable with ourselves, with who we are and what we’re able to do, is often a challenge. We look at those who are held up as icons–athletes, politicians, media stars–and what they have and do often makes us feel less than or not enough.
When Jesus came to earth, He wasn’t seen as important. His disciples were mostly uneducated. His followers were often poor. The rich and known people of the time didn’t trust Him or value what He was doing. He messed with their plans and purposes.
He didn’t pretend to be what He wasn’t. He didn’t come as a King to take over the Roman world. He didn’t come as a warrior to fight on behalf of the beaten-down Jewish population and restore their land.
He came to die. Because He is God, He lived a life of service and sacrifice. He shared the truth of God’s forgiveness and grace.
He had to die to do it. He offered Himself in our place, paying a penalty He didn’t deserve so we might experience redemption and freedom from the many mistakes of our lives.
Jesus did it because He loves us.
God has made each of us in His image, with a certain skill set, talents that make us each unique. He challenges us to live out of that investment, not to pretend to be someone we’re not.
In a world of managed image and social acceptance, being authentic isn’t often valued. Pretending is easier than being real.
But is it worth it?
Who do you say you are?