I've always been connected to myself - to who I really am - but I've struggled with how to express who I am to others, because of my introversion and because religion told me to "find my identity in Christ". Shame has been a good friend of mine, encouraging me to keep myself hidden and compartmentalize.
Collecting labels was the easiest way to divert myself away from my true identity and lose sight of who I am. I let it happen because it seemed to make everyone comfortable. Come on, everyone else is doing it! But saying I was Christian wrapped me up in too many identities, identities I thought were mine.
What kind of Christian was I? What kind of Christian was I supposed to be? Being a pastor's daughter and pastor's wife, roles I had no control in assuming, put undue pressure on me - pressure from others because of expectations, pressure on myself because I thought there was a "right way" to do it. Too often I felt like I was doing my religion a disservice because my thought process always found alternate routes, outside of Christianity.
I had to stop saying I was a Christian to reclaim my identity. I had to break up with shame.
I've changed my mind about identity.
I've learned my identity is not found "in Christ", or anyone else for that matter.
When I am alone, I know myself. The problem I run into is when I try to explain myself to someone else. I used to hate the feeling of being misunderstood. I'd spend hours replaying conversations, trying to understand where I went wrong - what I actually said and meant versus what someone else may have heard, or how they perceived it. I'm getting over it, it's simply a waste of energy.
"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."
I am a human being, not a human doing.
I'm not sure who coined it but focusing on my human beingness, instead of operating as a human doing, dramatically shifted my view of identity. I know myself when I am just being - because I've always enjoyed my own company - and it's a feeling I have to carry into all the doing.
When I am being myself, I care less about what others think. Being myself is a soul connection. I feel infinitely tethered to my center, my heart - to God. I no longer feel the need to hide, to make myself small; and I've stopped boxing myself in with religion. I don't have to pretend to understand what I believe anymore because I get to choose what I believe. Choosing commits me to myself; choosing calls forth my identity and reminds me who I am.
Choosing tells me that who I am is enough.
"There is nothing to prove and nothing to protect. I am who I am and it's enough."