‘Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?”
Romans 9 vs 20
Let’s bring this closer to home.
‘Why am I like this?’
‘Why can’t I be like everyone else?’
‘I just want to be like the others.’
‘What’s wrong with me?’.
Recognise the above?
They are questions / statements that plague our minds whenever we feel frustrated, discouraged, upset with God, or angry with ourselves. And the final one – ‘what’s wrong with me?’ – is often the one which consigns us to those dastardly realms of despair and defeat.
The truth is there absolutely nothing wrong with you.
Because God made you.
The problem however, is we don’t understand why we sometimes behave in a peculiar manner, feel strongly about particular topics, and react to certain things. If we did, we’d be better equipped to utilise our uniqueness for the purpose we were created for.
But before proceeding, let’s clarify some unbreakable truths.
1. God loves you, and nothing and no-one can separate you from his love.
‘nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.’
Romans 8 vs 38: NLT
2. God created you, and he knows exactly why, and what for.
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.’
Jeremiah 1 vs 5: NIV
3. His plans for you are good and not bad ones.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29 vs 11: NIV
I want you to do something this very minute.
Dismiss every sermon you’ve ever heard regarding how God will bless you with riches and wealth. Yes, throw them out of the window. In this moment, those sermons are no good to you. For all they do is cloud your mind; preventing you from connecting with who you are. So again, throw them out. Not because they are bad but because they are most likely an obstruction to your identity and peace of mind. Accept you may have got it all wrong, wipe your slate clean, and open your heart and mind to the revelation of who you are.
If you’re struggling to do the above, then jostle with yourself some more until you’ve achieved what is admittedly a somewhat challenging objective.
Good. Now we proceed.
1. List your most important values.
Please note – not your friends, parents, brothers, or sisters’ values – yours.
2. Ask yourself why each value is so important to you.
3. Ask yourself what it all means.
Now for the trickiest part – do you accept your findings? And if so, what are you going to do about it?
Will you embrace the truths you’ve just unearthed? Or will you reject them as a result of comparing yourself to others?
We live in a world in which nothing stands still. Perpetually in a race against time, we find ourselves chasing one thing after another – that next deal, a girlfriend, wife, boyfriend, husband, baby, better job, material wealth, or whatever; all because we believe they lead to happiness. Unfortunately, no sooner have we secured one, and we’re striving for the next as though our very existence depends on it. There is of-course nothing wrong with ambition, but that peace of mind we all yearn for cannot be obtained in those febrile lanes of the rat race.
And when I say rat race, I’m not only referring to work. I’ll probably be gunned down for saying this, but even church can be a bit of a rat race!
We go to church, listen to sermons, get involved in numerous projects (many of which are excellent ones), fall in line as to the kind of people we’re supposed to be and the lives we’re supposed to lead; all the while never taking the time to ask, ‘Who am I? And does this align with what God created me for?’.
Sometimes, we all need to just Stop. Take a little time-out and ask God, ‘Who am I? What did you create me for? And is this what you want me to be doing?’
Who knows, whilst your church may be a truly wonderful place to worship, and with the most lovely people, it may not necessarily be the place God wants to use you.
And I’m not just talking about churches and work here. I’m talking about life in general.
You are not only unique and created for a specific purpose, but there are many depending on you; depending on you to love, heal, and serve.
Failing to align yourself with who you were created to be will leave a gaping hole in so many lives.
When you take a pause, you’re able to understand both yourself and your role.
Back to Values.
Identifying the values God placed in you before you were even born is actually the easy part. The biggest challenge of all is staying true to them, no matter what.
Permit me to use myself as an example.
I’d sensed for a couple of months that I needed to reconnect with who I am; in other words, reconnect with my values. But as I’m sure you agree, sensing a need to do something and actually doing it are worlds apart.
Upon waking up two Saturday mornings ago the first thought that came to mind was…actually, better still, I’ll just replay it as it happened.
THOUGHT: ‘Why not spend a few hours re-identifying your values today?!’.
ME: ‘Naa, it’s Saturday. Have to post this week’s article, then send to contacts etc. Then doing park run, then…actually, hang-on, can’t do parkrun this week. Resting left knee. Playing tennis instead. That reminds me, tennis at 9am.’
THOUGHT: ‘What about after tennis?’
ME: ‘Shower, meditate…my goodness! Can’t believe meditation is now part of my daily itinerary. And it’s doing wonders! So good to have wise friends… anyway, after that, breakfast, groceries shopping, then…then…
THOUGHT: ‘Then what?’
ME: ‘Then, I don’t know. Anyway, I need a clear head to re-identify my values. I’m too tired. Not the best time to do it. Need to chill today.’
THOUGHT: ‘May I suggest you do values after groceries?! I’m pretty sure you’ll be fine.’
Silence – conversation over, in hope of pretending it never took place.
To cut a long story short, I went to the park after groceries shopping with notebook in hand and spent a couple of hours re-identifying my values.
Top of the list was happiness – making people happy. For example, I love nothing better than saying hello to people when walking past them on the street or running in the park. But every now and then, someone rejects my pleasantries and continues past without so much as a nod in my direction. What happens when this occurs? That old and habitually unhelpful friend rejection rears its petulant head, leading me to hesitate before greeting the next person. And before long, as the fear of rejection grows stronger, I retreat to my safe-haven of not greeting anyone at all.
Holding-on to your values is often the most difficult thing to do. But, and here’s the eye opener, the more we hold-on to them, no matter the circumstances or how we feel, the more at peace we are.
No matter how busy you are this week, find a little time to just stop. Take some much-needed time-out to reacquaint yourself with who you are.
1. Embrace the reality of God’s unconditional love for you.
2. Identify your specific and unique values.
3. Ask yourself what it says about who you are.
One of the keys to finding peace of mind lies in identifying who you are; and prominent on that path is the revelation of your values.