One of my favorite movies is The Family Stone. I watch it at least once every Christmas. It makes me cry and makes me long for something and makes me nostalgic and happy all at the same time. Anyway, there is one scene that gets me every single time.
The movie, in case you’ve never seen it, is about a large family getting together at Christmastime. The oldest son is bringing his girlfriend home to meet the family for the first time and he wants to ask his mother for the promised grandmother’s wedding ring so he can propose. Unfortunately, no one likes her. Or, better put, no one likes her for him.
And there’s a scene where the parents are talking and the father says to his wife, “She is attractive and intelligent and successful…she’s a fine woman…but she doesn’t seem to know or trust herself…which means, I’m afraid to say, our son doesn’t know himself at all either.”
Whoa. Think about that. They weren’t concerned that he wanted to marry some horrible person, because she wasn’t a horrible person. They were concerned because everyone – except him – could tell that they were not good for each other, they were not good together.
Twenty years ago, that was me. I didn’t know myself very well. I didn’t trust myself at all. (I also didn’t trust God, but that’s for another post.) I walked into a marriage knowing that we weren’t good together, knowing he wasn’t right for me, knowing I wasn’t right for him.
But a fear of mine – as I sit here looking at my future and having no earthly idea if there is another man out there for me at some point – is that I still may not know myself all that well. Now, I am not saying this all self-absorbed-ly. Hear me out.
I believe as Christians, it’s our responsibility to know who we are in Christ first and foremost. For those of us who follow Christ, these things will be the same for all of us. Things like, redeemed, forgiven, equipped, set apart, whole, free, being made new, loved. Good, good things like that. We must get these things settled within us as we move into our futures, as we even consider new relationships, as we grasp onto our healing. We must know who we are in Christ.
But I believe we also have the responsibility to know who we are as Christ created and designed us. I believe I was in sin to try to square peg/round hole it with my mate choice all those years ago. I believe it was immature and selfish of me.
But at 43, I better know some things about myself that will help me in any future partner selection. These things will be unique. There will be some overlap, of course, but no one else is created like me, and no one else is created like you. I need to know that I’m an introvert, that I get ridiculously irritated when I’m lost and late, that I’m not a great cook, that I prefer a night in to a night out, that I prefer a few really close friends to a lot of only okay acquaintances. Things like that. I need to know these things about myself. And then I need to be confident enough in who I am in Christ to be okay with all those things, to actually live out of who I really am and be honest with myself and others. (In other words, no lying on your online dating profiles, people…you’ll only shoot yourself in the foot with that one! Seriously…stop it.)
One of the ways I do this is that I have actually started a list in my journal of things I like and things I don’t like, along with things I would like in a partner and things I now know I will not be okay with. I even just took three personality tests as part of a project I’m working on with a career coach. Even if I never remarry, these are still good things to know about myself so that I can live out of my authentic self, living true to who God had in mind when he thought me up. But if I do consider remarriage, this information is key. I cannot go into another relationship blind because I refuse to hurt myself and another person again because of that.
So today, take some steps in discovering who you are…maybe make some lists, post some notes around your house that say “loved” or “free”. Whatever it takes to start being you, the real you.