It’s a mantra with which so many of us are incredibly familiar: “Just do you!” “Be yourself!” “Make people love you for who you are!”
My father has described the four basic questions every man will ask himself before he dies:
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- What’s wrong with the world?
- How can what is wrong be made right?
The first question is something that we doggedly pursue. We take personality tests that show us every complicated facet of who we are (apparently, I am an INFJ), we take quizzes that compare us to our favorite literary heroines (as far as Jane Austen goes, I’m apparently an Emma; if we’re talking Louisa May Alcott, Meg March it is), we can look in the Urban Dictionary and see how our names are defined, we take compatibility tests to ascertain what sort of temperament our potential mate should have… we even turn to astrology to base our perception of ourselves on our birthdays, or planetary alignment. We cling to other people’s descriptions of us -I have been described as animated, effervescent, vivacious, and optimistic… yet also as grounded, wholesome, introspective, and pessimistic. Am I incredibly well-rounded, or just confused?
I remember talking to one of my closest friends, one of my mom’s dearest sisters in the Lord, a homeschool mom who was a psychiatrist before she came home. I always tease her about needing to lay on her living room couch and debrief her about various and sundry aspects of my life. During one of these instances, when I was asking for her advice about a specific topic, she looked at me with a bemused expression: “You are easily the most self-aware person I have ever met.”
Now, consternation aside (“The psychiatrist who talks to people with deeper issues than I could ever imagine just told me I was the most self-aware person she’s ever met… what does that mean?”), her words reminded me of our aching need as children of men to know ourselves, and to be true to ourselves. We crave an understanding of who we are, and we strive to come to terms with that understanding. We elevate the god of self -the highest compliment we can give someone is that she is “true to herself.”
For daughters of the Most High King, knowing who we are begins with understanding our Lord and Master. It doesn’t begin with introspection, a personality test, or a horoscope: it begins with God’s Word. And only when we understand who we are in Jesus Christ are we able to fully understand the gifts he’s given us, to submit to him during the sanctification process, and to be ever conforming ourselves to the image of Christ (Romans 12:1-2).
One of the stabs often made against proponents of biblical womanhood is that they want all women to stifle their true selves, to walk in lockstep, and to become cutout versions of the perfect wife. Nothing could be further from the truth -God’s Word gives us ample room to “be ourselves” -insofar as we submit every aspect of our character to His calling. I can still be that effervescent, down-to-earth realist that I’m known to be -I can still use the gifts the Lord has given me for his glory, but within the context of the role he has given me. Far from being a stifling reality, living my life in light of his calling is freeing.
I am a helpless sinner. Every aspect of my personality has been marred in some way by the fall. Only when the Lord lavished his saving grace on me -not because of anything good within me, but solely by his grace (Ephesians 2:9) -and only as he continues to conform me to the image of his Son should I strive to “be myself” -to be his beloved daughter.
Who am I? The beginning of the answer is in God’s Word. That’s where we turn to find out what it means to be a child of the risen King, what it means to be a woman, what it means to embrace our God-given femininity, and how we are to use the gifts, talents, abilities, and passions he’s given us. And as we gain a firmer grasp on God’s Word, we gain a firmer understanding of who we’re called to be. Personality quizzes can be fun, even helpful, but they won’t teach us that.
My sisters in Christ are as diverse as any women could be; what we have in common is a passionate love for our Savior, and a dogged pursuit to accomplish his will for our lives. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139), and the purpose of our every facet is clear: to bring glory to our Maker. What a beautiful thought!