Know Who You Are
Have you experienced someone in life telling you who you are or who you should be? Have you experienced others judging moments in your life?
Growing up, my father would always tell me, “Remember who you are.” When he said this to me, he was reminding me that I am a child of God.
I was raised in a Southern Baptist, evangelical home. My parents are deeply devoted to Jesus, and their beliefs are the foundation for everything they do. To me, this is a beautiful thing.
Yet I found as I grew up and especially in my early adulthood, I struggled with the dogmatic beliefs that often accompany religion. I went through a period in my life when I felt that when we die, we die. This was easier for me to accept than certain beliefs that I felt were being forced upon me.
Then, I experienced Steven and the way he gracefully walked through his cancer diagnosis and death. After that experience, I started recognizing events in my life that I could not explain fully. I just let those things be and pondered them in my heart in order to understand more about myself. After the experience with Steven, I found myself on a spiritual journey that I now know started even as I was a little girl.
Through this spiritual journey and reflecting back on moments in my life, I now view life’s experiences, both “good” and “bad”, as gifts.
"Everything in your life is there as a vehicle for your transformation. Use it!" ~ Ram Dass
I would add that for me, spirituality is not one-size-fits-all. It is different for every person. It is not black and white. And to me, one's spirituality should never be judgmental or condemning towards others who believe or act differently. I love everyone for exactly who they are and I want all to enjoy the freedom that encompasses that philosophy. It is the essence of diversity that makes us beautiful, and that diversity includes race, religion, culture, background, our experiences, and individual journeys.
As I look back over my life, I relive so many moments in which I had to defend myself and my choices with my family, especially my mother and brother. I have experienced many moments of being judged or not understood since my early childhood. There are so many moments in which my family just did not support my decisions because they felt I was making terrible mistakes.
And there were many times that I was unsure of myself. Yet, I knew my heart and trusted my journey even when others could not. Deep within me I knew who I was.
One example was when I became engaged to my ex-husband, Philip. My family did not support my decision because they did not feel he was the best person for me. Yet I loved and adored him beyond words. I later learned that my mom, who shares everything with everyone, did not tell her friends and colleagues that I was engaged. This hurt me deeply at the time.
And, yes, many could say that my marriage was a mistake. I mean, I am after all now divorced. But I know differently. My marriage to Philip taught me so much about myself, about others, and how to truly love myself and others. And, if I had not married Philip, I would not have met Steven. I would not have experienced his death, which has led me to my life’s calling.
Everything in my life has led me to this moment.
My father did not realize just how much his reminder to me of remembering who I am would give me the strength to face my family. He did not know how much it would give me the strength to face life. Even to this day, that reminder has helped me navigate difficult moments with my family where I just do not feel understood. I have had moments where I have asked myself, “Do they even know who I am? Have they met me?”
For me, I do not need my family to be anyone else than who they are. I do not need them to change their beliefs, religion, judgments, or experiences. And as much as I want them to accept me, I have come to a place where I do not actually need them to love me unconditionally. For you see, I love myself unconditionally.
I know who I am. That is enough for me.
Last year, I had a beautiful conversation with my father about my journey. I told him that I knew there were moments in which my family did not understand my decisions or fully support me. But I reassured him that I can look back now and see why I was meant to have those experiences.
Looking back at those experiences (when others did not support me), I now feel that there are no mistakes. Even when it is not clear to oneself why you are making a decision, the experience you are having can nevertheless teach you more about yourself or lead you to a higher purpose. Every experience, every choice can teach us something more about ourselves or help us pursue our purpose in this world.
Every experience is a gift.
I have a dear friend, Eve, who has shared with me about struggles her 18-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, has faced and the understanding that Elizabeth is starting to gain from those experiences.
A couple of years ago, Elizabeth was so depressed that she faked her own suicide. She then ran away from home, was placed in a mental hospital for a couple of weeks under evaluation, and ended up leaving home and bounced around from place to place for two years.
It appeared that her life was spiraling out of control. Elizabeth ended up addicted to drugs and experienced things that would be difficult for many to comprehend. Eve still does not know everything her daughter experienced, but when Elizabeth hit rock bottom last year she came back home.
No, it was not the life Eve imagined for her daughter. There are moments that we all want to shield and protect our loved ones from experiencing. And I can only imagine what Eve must have felt seeing her daughter spiral out of control, wanting so much more for her beautiful daughter.
Eve shared that Elizabeth woke her up at 2 a.m. one morning this past January to share with her mom that she had been crying and writing in her journal. Elizabeth had experienced a moment in which she was able to view the experiences of her life through a lens of love and surrender. Eve and Elizabeth spent two hours snuggling and talking about Elizabeth’s plans to hire a coach and build a coaching business to work with young kids who are struggling the way she had. Elizabeth is starting to see all that is right in front of her.
Elizabeth is reconnecting with her true self...her true, beautiful colors!
No, every day is not filled with sunshine and rainbows. There are still bumps. There are still difficult moments. Elizabeth is still a teenager and is still healing from what she has experienced. But I do see how Eve is so beautifully walking with her daughter on her individual journey. Eve is allowing her daughter to learn more about herself.
And Eve is honoring her own individual journey. She is doing her own self-work and learning more about the experiences of her own life. She is able to see her daughter’s true self more because Eve herself is connected with her true self without controlling, without judgment, without agenda.
The experiences Elizabeth has faced do not define her. Those experiences are there to help her learn more about herself. And by doing so, she will truly serve others.
I love the Disney movie, Moana!
From the moment Moana was born, she felt a deep connection with the ocean and desire to explore what lay beyond her island’s reef. As she grew, her father and mother continually did their best to sway her from this desire. Her father and mother would tell her who she was, were frustrated when she would not accept their guidance, and considered her rebellious when as a young adult she still struggled to accept the role her father told her she must play. She was told she must let go of her desire to journey the ocean.
Moana struggled with the truth inside of her.
She struggled with being the person she was told to be and felt something was wrong with her for not being able to accept it. Ultimately she defied her father and set out by herself on a journey she felt calling deep within her. She had no idea how to sail a boat, what she was doing, why she felt the call within, how far she had to go, or what she would face. She simply could not fight the feelings inside of her even though it went against her father and what she had been taught of who she was meant to be for her tribe and island.
The greatest message I took away from the movie was then even when Moana was unsure of who she was or why she was doing what she felt so deep within, she was actually following her divine guidance and true self.
Does it mean she did not love her father or disrespected him? No. She just could not deny the calling deep within her even when it meant defying her father...even if it was so unknown, scary, and dangerous.
Does it mean her father did not love her? Not at all. He thought he was protecting her and doing what was best for her. He wanted what he thought was best for her. It was his own experiences, limiting beliefs, and fears that were getting in the way of accepting what was within her. He deeply loved her.
Moana faced much adversity. On her journey, she had others discount her. There were moments she questioned why she was on her journey and doubted herself. She almost gave up.
Yet on her journey, she connected with her true self.
And in the end, Moana helped the goddess, Te Fiti, find her true self again.
This was after Moana had set out on her own journey of self-discovery. And by her connecting with her true self, she was able to help Te Fiti reconnect with her own. It was not Moana telling Te Fiti who she was, but simply Moana reminding Te Fiti that she knew within herself who she was.
No one can tell you who you are. Only you know who you are.
Moana also helped Maui and her tribe reconnect with their true selves. And even with her father’s initial disapproval, she helped her father reconnect with his true self. She served so many by helping them remember who they were. In her finding her true self, she naturally helped others reconnect with theirs. All she had to do was be true to herself.
“Remember who you are.” ~ my Dad
One of my gifts is being able to see people's true natures...their true colors even when their actions, words, and/or appearance do not represent it. Perhaps like Moana, I was given this gift because I would need it for myself in order to follow my divine journey even when I was unsure of myself and going against what those I loved most were telling me. And with this gift, I can help others reconnect with their true self.
Does it mean we just stand back and let loved ones face things alone? No. For me, it is saying to others, “I don’t know why you are going through this or having this experience, but I’ve got you. I see you. I’m here for you. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at times, you are seen, heard, loved, and held. You are not alone.”
I walk with others on their journey without judgment, agenda, or need to change anything for them with a deep trust that what they are experiencing is meant to help them connect more with their true selves.
And by doing so, I honor myself and them.
Just like Elizabeth, Moana, and all of us, my individual journey is always evolving. I grow more every day as I have new experiences that Life gives me. And I would not change one thing that I have experienced so far in this life. I am grateful for every heartbreak, every challenge, every moment. For I know that I find beauty in the contrast of life...both the light and the dark, and that those moments are here to teach me even more about myself.
I have never been one to ask people to explain themselves or their decisions to me. I have always had this innate trust that they know what is best for them and it is not meant for me to judge or tell them what they should or should not do. I can recall early in my life saying that it is not the mistake, but what we learn and do with it that matters. I have always done my best to support even if I do not fully understand.
The more you get to know who you are, the more you can trust and support others on their own journeys.
Deep within us, we all know who we are. And sometimes, we may need others to help us reconnect with ourselves.
“This is not who you are. You know who you are. Who you truly are.” ~ Moana
So, share with me. Have you faced moments in your life in which others have told you who you should be? Have you experienced others judging you or expecting you to live your life a certain way? Would you like to gain a deeper understanding as to why you have faced certain experiences in your life? Do you feel connected to your true self? Do you feel you can stand in the truth of who you are? Are you struggling to understand others and their decisions/actions?
And if you have never watched Moana, I highly recommend it! It may be a “kids” movie, but I promise you will both enjoy and learn from it.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." ~ Marianne Williamson
(Please note: In my writing, some names have been changed to protect loved ones. I share my experiences and stories while honoring the privacy of those dear to my heart.)