“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.comLeave a Comment
Jennifer (keltrinswife) says
Love! I feel like I just can’t be me and be a Christian at the same time. It feels like being an extrovert at times is a sin. Thank you for this article and be blessed:)
Sarah Mae says
I used to feel the same way, the extrovert thing. I mainly felt that way because of the scripture about being gentle and quiet, but then I read the Greek and realized the meaning is not to be literally quiet but to have a quiet, peaceful soul, to be tranquil in the inner parts, trusting in God. Changed my world. 🙂
Jennifer (keltrinswife) says
Ashley O says
I’m so GLAD that you said that about being gentle and quiet. God definitely did NOT make me that way, and I have felt like I needed to change who he made me to fit that. Thank you, Sarah Mae! I swear, you and I were cut from the same cloth! This article hits the nail on the head!
Sarah (theGIRL) says
Interesting read this morning! I’ve never considered having to give up my unique personality traits, style, etc. in order to follow Christ. Do I have to remind myself to “die to self” by giving up my perceived rights and the sins that I default to when I’m not abiding? Yes, every second of the day I have to intentionally seek God in order to do that.
But the things that make me truly me? The passions I have (whether it’s my talents, style, sense of humor, taste in music, etc.) are a gift from God. They make me His unique child, and I think He is pleased when he sees me enjoying the very things He gave me a passion for….
Sarah Mae says
You have a very healthy perspective! Wish I would have figured it out sooner!
Thank you for painting this beautiful picture. I love it! Such a soul sweet thing to read first thing in the morning. I agree, sometimes I have it down but a lot of the time I am looking all around, comparing who is the better swimmer, or gasping for breath, or even at worst just letting the water take me under. I love those sweet times of just letting His current take me and I stop trying so hard to do it myself and stop fighting His grace. It’s so refreshing to know someone else is learning the same way! Love your sweet spirit. You are a treasure!
Sarah Mae says
Thank you, Stephanie! 🙂
Oh how I have struggled with this very thing most of my life. That I had to change the Me to become what I thought was how Jesus wanted me to be. I love the pic. of woven together by God.
Thank you for the reminder.
Sarah Mae says
You’re welcome, and I’ll keep reminding myself as well!
This is beautiful Sarah Mae! I so get this!
I remember standing in praise and worship at church one day and feeling a little silly about my excitement and expression of praise. God spoke to me in that moment and said “I love anything you do that is silly because that is YOU.” It was such a freeing thought. My quirks are me and I can be okay with expressing them just as I am okay with expressing the “proper” me. Since that moment and that revelation life has become so much more fun for me! Where the spirit of The Lord is there is freedom – freedom to be all He created and redeemed us to be!
Sarah Mae says
Oh my goodness, love this! Yes, loving you for you. Beautiful.
Amen! We are so much MORE ourselves when we put on Christ. And it’s good to be silly and laugh and throw ourselves head-first into that ocean, because in Him, we are free and safe and dangerous and loved. I love your words, and your sweet heart — and your sweet Caroline! 🙂
Sarah Mae says
Head-first into the ocean…that’s really good.
All I can say is “Wow!” and “Thank you!” This has been an area I have been conflicted with for many years and I have been growing in this year. My text for this year is 2 Corinthians 5:17. I am letting God in, to create a new me! It is important to me that people still see me but see more.
Love and Prayers!
Sarah Mae says
A new you mixed with the created you, that’s just right. 🙂
Please forgive me for not ‘understanding’ the ‘wearing Him’??? For some reason I am missing something? Wear? Can someone help explain this further? Thank You and Blessings to you….
Galatians 3:27 “And all who have been united with Christ…. have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.”
And Ephesians 4 talks about taking off our old sinful nature and putting on our new nature in Christ.
I think of “wearing” Christ as a directive that He be seen. And that He covers me. And that He enhances me. When people see me-He is obvious in me, a filter for my thoughts, words and actions.
I am still me, but a better me, lavished by being clothed in the Son of God! <3
I love this! I am a bit of an introvert and have sorta felt like I need to “push” through that to be able to witness loudly and proudly to others and the thought scares me to death. But as I grow more in my walk with God and learn more about my passions and who He made me to be, I’ve begun to realize I don’t have to be that person proclaiming Jesus’ name from a soapbox or with a megaphone. God has given me talents to share my faith in the ways most genuine for me.
I’ve been floundering for a while but recently, I asked God to help me swim and help me flow along His current and help me to see that He will meet my needs on a day-by-day basis and I have rarely felt so calm and assured in my life. I’m a huge worrier, big-time overanalyzer, but yet I put my trust in Him on a daily basis to get me through whatever I need to go through on that day and I no longer feel like a stressed out crazy person. 🙂
Brenda @TripleBraided says
What about when you have a passion, conviction, dream to do something – like a calling or career – but the circumstances don’t allow for it? Does that mean you should deny yourself those? Even when the motives are pure and good? For instance, the desire to be a SAHM or a work-at-home mom or a writer? Is that “my cross to bear” that these aren’t fulfilled even though I feel like they’re from God? I’m struggling with this!
Sarah Q says
I really enjoyed this piece. I have been giving this concept a lot of thought lately since I occasionally find myself not really fitting into the “perfect, Christian woman” box. Thanks so much!
Thank you. That is almost all I can say.
This touched me grately. So powerful and honest.
“He is asking us to be who He created us to be.”
Thank you. I have been struggling through what less of me and more of Him truly looks like. So thank you for this. I think I will have to reread this over again and again.
Diana Trautwein says
Oh, my, this is beautifully done! YES – this is such a central truth and one we so often do.not.get. Thanks for this fine thinking and lovely writing.
This has spoken right to my heart:)
This is beautiful! I’m learning more and more as I grow older that God made me a certain way for a reason, and I need to quit trying hard to be someone I’m not just because culture tells me to change. I’m learning that the more I listen to and trust the Spirit, the more I become who God created me to be…and I am beautiful! 🙂
Where I struggle the most is in my brokenness, and flawed parts. They are a part of the human me. The flesh me. And this is part of who I am. I am spirit, I know this. But I am also part human. When being called to His People, called to preach, called to pray, it seems as though people often want perfection. I am not perfection, far from it. So I wonder, will I be able to complete the call on my life and really, truly be all of me? I pray so, because this tug of war is exhausting. Thanks for this Sarah, it’s beautiful and has touched me so.
You just have no idea how badly I needed to hear this. This has been my struggle lately, trying to figure out how to balance who I am in Christ with who I just am. I really needed to hear that it’s ok to be both. Thank you!
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
God created me in His image, so I like to think he is slightly goofy at times, likes to write and has a funny bone that is easily tickled…Thanks for a beautiful reminder that we don’t have to deny who God created us to be in order to “put on” Christ. The combination of uniqueness redeemed is beautiful indeed!
Great thoughts. This makes things clearer for me with “dying to self.” I’ve asked some of these same questions. We learn some of the best stuff from kids, don’t we?
Thank you for sharing. 🙂
yup, this was the sweet reminder I needed as I struggle to find my identity in HIM, and not in my accomplishments (or lack of them). I want to more deeply believe that God created each part of me with intentionality, and that He smiles with love on me because He delights in me. It is so much easier to see my flaws sometimes, so much easier to find the reasons why I wish I were more this, or less that. Living into my identity as His beautiful one is an act of faith in Him- it is believing that what He says is true. Lord, increase my faith!
Carolyn Counterman says
I rarely stop by to say thank you, but a friend made a point of showing me this post (even though I get it in my email). She knew it spoke to a question of mine. So anyway… thank you. Thank you for sharing that. God meant for you and I to spend this few moments together today. Thank you for participating in His plan.
Carol Heine says
THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS ARTICLE WITH US >. I WAS ALSO THINKING THE SAME WAY . BUT NOW I UNDERSTAND THAT I CAN JUST REST AND GO ALONG WITH THE CURRENT OF HIS LEADING, AND I WILL BE WHAT HE WANTS ME TO BE.
thank you for that freeing message to me from my Jesus
Cynthia Campbell says
Please be careful with your precious four year old…you said “hippie child” and she does not want to be a servant. I am sure you are walking well with God.
Quite a conundrum: I am so sorry to say I think the picture is too explicit of a four year old child (the picture somewhat portrays a teenager with the long mussed up hair adorning half of her face). I think we should be conservative; she does Not want to sacrifice herself in order to be someone else.
I’m sorry since I did not read the full article and comments, since it was difficult to get past the picture of a misconstrued four year old. Our children are sweet and pure!
Sarah Mae – Thank you! This is a common question among women, I would think more especially wives and mothers who are constantly switching hats in order to care for her family! Thank you for helping us to see that it’s ok to ‘Let go and Let God’! When we work at it, it’s truly a blessing! Thank you! P.S. I bet you are an awesome mom, and I LOVE the picture! 😉
I don’t know about being a beautiful one, but I am so broken enough to believe it. I was able to identify with so many of your sweet Caroline’s feelings here. Thank you for writing this slice of encouragement for our day, Sarah Mae.
Susan Dominikovich says
Beautifully written Sarah Mae. Learning to swim (and at times even fly!) in the skin He gave me…it’s a thrilling ride!
This is beautifully written!! Thank you for reminding us, Sarah Mae. <3
What beautiful words! I am just coming into my beautiful brokenness and loving it!
Like a gentle wind to refresh my heart and soul. Thank you, Sarah.
Sarah Dittmer says
“A child will lead…” =) My little boy thinks like your Caroline. I’ll ask if he’s cute or silly or anything and his answer is always the same, “No. I’m just Titus.” Now, for those of us who know him, being “just Titus” is quite a loaded answer! =) If only we could understand how much is meant by being “just a Christian”.
Thanks for the post, Sarah Mae. =)
My husband and I moved our little family to Nova Scotia for a year. Away from the place I grew up. It was so freeing attending a church where noone new me from Adam. It was the most liberating year for us! We didn’t realize the unspoken pressure to conform to certain standards until we moved away, and went to a church where we finally felt alive and excited to go to church. We have moved back “home” and it’s hard because we are not returning to the family church yet exciting to finally embrace who we are and looking forward to descovering what God has for us in this new phase of our lives.
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