Most of us spend a lifetime trying to figure out who we are. This is especially true, ironically, for those of us who come to know God, who actually tells us who we are. The more God reveals to us our created nature, the more we struggle with how it is we are actually supposed to live this out. Who are we? And how do we become the persons we were meant to be?
I grew up loving jigsaw puzzles. I still do, actually. Like many wise individuals, my mother always taught me that when you're working a jigsaw puzzle, it's best to go through the whole box first and pick out all of the edge pieces. This way, you put the outmost portion of the puzzle together first, and you know for sure that all of the other pieces somehow fit inside.
I'm finding the same is true for finding myself.
Finding yourself is about finding your edges first. We all have them. We all have that point where we refuse to take one more step in this direction or that, where we won't go any further than we already are, where we won't do this thing or that thing, no matter what. Where do you draw your lines?
Maybe you draw your lines regarding which causes you'll give your money to. Maybe you'll give your money to this ministry, but not that one. That's an edge. That's you saying that the shape of you is somehow dependent on this certain cause, but is not defined by that one at all. Maybe you give your time to working with, say, young girls but not, say, prison inmates. There's another edge. You're saying that one of the things that shapes you is what you have to offer to a young woman, but that you're not comfortable being defined by what you might offer a prisoner.
It's hard for us to draw some of these lines, to declare some of these edges. When we make value decisions about who we are, we also make value decisions about who we are not, then we wonder if people might somehow get confused. If we seem generous financially in one regard, it is assumed that perhaps we are simply financially generous. But when we withhold our financial generosity from something else, someone's likely to press back against us and say, "I thought you were generous." All of a sudden, by drawing our edges, we find that something about us somehow exists on both sides of the line. And generous seems like such a good thing. Why wouldn't we want to be generous? So we expand our lines and give, even when we are not led to give, even when it is not consistent with who we are. Or we mentor young girls well, but are not so adept with the prisoner. Someone is going to say that we're picking and choosing who we invest our time in, that we're drawing unnecessary lines. But are they unnecessary?
Because when you blur your lines, people notice that, too. They notice that you don't stand for anything. They notice that you try to be everything. They notice that you don't seem to know who you are.
It's a challenge. We live in a world that wants to have it both ways. They want us to be specific things, but not in specific situations, and we've sort of bought into this. We've bought into the idea that we must reflect ourselves as generous persons, rather than letting our generosity reflect our persons. And in doing so, we've blurred our lines.
It's okay to define your edges. It's okay to discover where your passions are, where you feel most contained within yourself. Where you feel like there's a definition and shape to you that's all yours. It's okay to draw lines and say, "This is where I end." Because the place where you end is also where some phantom of you begins, and nobody wants to be a shadow.
So find your edges. Figure out where it is that God has designed you to say, this is it. This is as far as I go in this direction. Figure out what it is that gives you your distinctive shape. There's a you-shaped hole in this universe that God has designed specifically you to fill, but you'll never get there if you leave your life in a thousand pieces and never start putting it together. Remember - once you have your edges, you know for sure that all of the other pieces fit inside there somewhere. It's just a matter of sorting out where.
It's an amazing thing to discover who you are in the imagination of God, who He designed you to be. It's a holy exercise going through all your pieces and figuring out how you fit together. It's an incredible feeling to feel secure within yourself, by knowing for sure where you begin and where you end. It enables you to live out the best version of you, the created you that God put in this world on purpose. It helps you to live your life letting your best attributes reflect who you are in the most meaningful of ways. You're self-contained, drawn with holy boundaries to be exactly who you are.
But this must also be said, and it's of the utmost importance: whoever you find yourself to be, whatever you discover are your edges, don't ever draw lines around your love. Don't even try. You can't. Love everybody. Love is the one edge we all share. And, ironically, love is no edge at all. For love knows no bounds.