When I was growing up, I noticed there were a few common answers to the question “Who am I?” Everyone I knew answered it with “soccer player,” “presidential scholar,” or some variant of those two. The problem was that I was not athletic, I trip over my own foot on a daily basis, and I’ve had “senioritis” since the 7th grade, so I’m not the brightest amongst my peers. I didn’t feel like a star, so I focussed on how I didn’t measure up. And after years of comparison, I settled for the identity, “not enough.”
At 18, I packed my bags and headed to the University of Georgia. I couldn’t wait to leave my high school life behind me. I was ready to leave my insecurities, fears, and frizzy hair at home. I was ready to find the place where I belonged, where I felt like I was enough. And UGA was going to be that place. But as I tried to settle into my new home, I realized that the 70 miles between UGA and Atlanta were not enough to keep my anxiety disorder away. In fact, it showed up stronger than ever, I began to live like a slave to it. My freshman year basically consisted of me hiding in my dorm room, and re-watching “30 Rock” ten times. After a change in medicine, however, my anxiety was diminished.
I spent the last three months of freshman year trying to make up for time lost. I eagerly awaited the arrival of sophomore year. It was going to be “my year.” I was finally going to live life, try new things, and do the whole college thing. So, when sophomore year began, I began to go along with whatever my sorority sisters were doing. I started drinking, making out with random boys at bars, and doing whatever I could to prove that I was good enough. And for a while, it worked. For a while, I was happy and carefree. But then, I fell in love and it all went down in flames. Taylor Swift said it best when she said “boys only want love if it’s torture.”
Long story short, I fell in love with a boy who would never love me in return. He didn’t treat me well, and he spoke a lot of lies over me. After a year of being told lies, I started to believe them. And I clung to my identity of “not enough” more than I ever had, because this time, a boy had confirmed that it was true. I believed that I was not pretty enough, not smart enough, unworthy, the girl he didn’t want, and the girl no one would ever want. So I started to act like that girl. I did whatever I could to find some sort of validation to prove those lies wrong. But every time I tried, I was left feeling more unworthy, more unlovable, and more broken. And that’s when God showed up.
After failing to find validation anywhere, I decided to see what God’s word had to say about me. I began to compare the identities I was living in with who God says I am. And they didn’t match up.
My anxiety disorder said I was a slave, but God says I am his child (Gal. 4:7).
That boy said I was a last choice, but God calls me chosen (1 Peter 2:9).
My past said I was a mess and incomplete, but God says I am complete in him (Col. 2:10).
After learning who God says I am, I started to speak his truth over myself, even when it didn’t feel true. I wrote scripture on sticky notes and placed them all around my room. I started keeping a journal of all of the lies I was living in and the scripture that proves those lies wrong. I submerged myself in God’s truth, and clung to it because it was all I had left. And eventually, my heart began to change. It didn’t happen overnight, I ran back to my old identities a lot, but with time, I did change, not because of anything I did, but because of what God did in me. He did exactly what Psalm 34 says, he came to me in the middle of my mess and healed my broken heart.
Change happened when I started to walk in the victory that God had for me all along.
When I was a slave to my anxiety, God was calling me to be set free.
When I was seeking validation from a random guy at a bar, God was calling me worthy and precious in his sight.
When I felt like a victim to my heart break, God was calling me victorious.
When I felt shame because of my mistakes, God was calling me redeemed.
His victory didn’t wait for me to be perfect, it was there all along. All I had to do was choose it.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” - Galatians 5:1
Victory is a choice. It doesn’t happen when you finally let go of fear, it happened when Jesus defeated death on the cross. And because of that, we get to claim his victory. We don’t have to claim identities like “not enough” because that’s not what God calls us. When we accept his love, we have the right to call ourselves children of God (John 1:12). And children of God don’t have to live in lies. They don’t have to seek validation from the world. They don’t have to live like slaves to fear. Children of God get to walk in freedom, truth, and grace.
There are days where it’s really hard to walk in truth, like when all of my friends have boyfriends and I’m still single. It’s hard to believe that God has a good future for me when my major feels totally irrelevant and I have no idea what I’m doing. But I choose to walk in truth anyways. I know that whatever God has for me is way better than the life I was trying to live two years ago. I get to be an overcomer of the world because Jesus overcame and shares his victory with me. And no matter what I am facing, I find joy in his presence.
So when I’m tempted to answer the “who am I” question with “not enough,” I let God be enough for me. When I’m tempted to answer with “I’m unworthy, too broken, and unlovable”, I let God prove me wrong with his truth. Walking in victory has been a journey, and I’m still on it. But even when I stumble, I know that God’s grace will catch me. I’m not perfect, but I will never go back to being a slave because that’s not who I am. I know now that God answers the “who am I” question for me, and he says I am set free.
Emily is one of the Lane of Roses Writing Ambassadors. Check out how to become an Ambassador by clicking here: Lane of Roses Writing Ambassador
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