“I don’t want to be a servant. I want to be a Caroline.” So says my four-year old hippie child, Caroline.
And wow, that just struck me deep. The contrast. She thought that if she was one thing she couldn’t be the other, and that precious one, she doesn’t want to sacrifice herself in order to be something else.
And isn’t that just interesting? It’s interesting to me because it brings to focus how I often live, quite divided. I’ve bought into this idea that I have to give up all of who I am in order to follow Jesus.
Caroline makes me think about how maybe we, maybe I, separate myself, divide myself when it comes to the call: the call to follow Jesus, to lay down my life, to wash feet, to be servant, to be kind, to be…
Because sometimes I think that if I follow God and I try to be more like Jesus, that it means I have to lose myself, my quirky personality, my silliness, my drive, and all the nuances that make up who I am, who I was created to be. In the losing, I figure I also need to be mature, and wise, and dress appropriately, and not laugh too loud or say stupid things. Sometimes it all feels like I have to try too hard to be all the things I’m supposed to be if I lay claim to the name “Christian.”
Not only am I trying to figure out who I am as a Jesus follower, I’ve also got this life to contend with, this life that I am swimming through, reaching through, trying to figure out my strokes so I don’t drown. How does this me, this slow swimmer, this sometimes going under, me, how do I learn the strokes while swimming them?
How do I follow Jesus while just trying to live and make sense out of the everyday?
Can I still be me while I wear Him?
Because I’m thinking, what if in the making of a servant, the making of becoming Christ-like, I lose Sarah Mae? What if I try so hard to a servant, a Christian, that I lose the woman God has woven together? Is this what Caroline thought, that if she is to be one thing she couldn’t be another? She doesn’t want to lose herself to become something else. And do we have to? Do we have to lose one to become another?
Does “lose your life to gain it“ mean we slay our very selves?
I don’t think so.
I think Caroline has it partially figured out. She knows, she’s confident, that she wants to be herself. I really, really like that about her. But me? I’m not so confident. I want to be better, do better, follow better, look better. Die, right? Die to self.
What does that mean?
Die to the flesh, the things that tug at us to be ugly and unknown and far from the One who made us to be more than our flesh.
He breathed into us, knit us, and I think when He asks us to die, He is asking us to live in who He created us to be. We were born into bad, but that’s not how we were created. We were created to be good and beautiful, and we wear Him all over, His image. Isn’t that just something? We are the beautiful ones, those who are broken enough to believe it. The ones who are some days drowning, some days flailing, some days begging God, “just show me how to swim and I will!” But He finds us in the waves and He says stop trying so hard, you are in my ocean, let my current lead you.
Yes, that’s it, isn’t it? We, the beautiful ones who choose to die, to stop fighting the waves and instead let them lead us, we are still who we are, we just…stop trying so hard. We let Him lead.
And wouldn’t you know, when we swim with the current, we gain confidence, and we gain strength, and we move forward, one stroke at a time. There is no timer, we aren’t in any hurry. And we look around, and we see others, some flailing, some racing, some seeing who is behind and who is before, but we, the beautiful ones who lean into the current, we just nod. We know the waves can be rough, swimming is hard, and so we choose do it together.
I am a servant in the making; some days I’ve got it down, but most days, I’m flailing. But through it all, I’m me, and doesn’t the Father just love me so? And doesn’t He just love you so?
Swim on you beautiful one, I’m right there with you, under, over, gasping, feeling, floating. I’m right beside you. And I’m nodding, because I know it’s hard, in fact, some days it’s a flat out battle to breathe. I know.
And I’m with you.
You. And I love who you are, who God made you to be.
So swim on sister. Swim on in who you are, not who you think you should be. You are beautiful. You are God woven. You are not alone.
Love, Sarah Mae, SarahMae.com