Between the expectations of others and the expectations you place on yourself, just who exactly are you supposed to be?
It’s amazing that even as a grown man or woman, you’d think you’d be more settled in life by now. I mean, you’ve spent 12-14 years in schooling, probably taken or undertaking some form of tertiary education, tried a lot of different things, and yet for all our doing and our activity, we can still be so unsure of exactly who we are and who we’re meant to be.
Father’s Day is almost here at the time of this writing (in Australia). Many of us looked to our fathers and father-figures in life to help establish who we’re meant to be. Our parents play pivotal roles in the foundation of who we are, after all. It’s only normal for a child to expect to be able to look up and receive some sort of direction in life.
This direction quickly takes the form of expectation. Now that you know better, you are expected to be able to make the right decisions. They helped point you in the right direction to start off with, now you’re expected to go down a certain path. That level of expectation can vary wildly – from being expected to choose your own wise path, to parents desiring specific career paths, marriage partners, and destinations for their children.
In our confusion, we open up to even more voices. More voices mean more options. More options mean more reasons to doubt who we are or what we’re doing. We thought something may have been a good idea, but now that X and Y have said that, now you’re not too sure, for better or worse.
And then there’s the most confusing voice of them all – your own. We have expectations we put on ourselves. We chastise ourselves harshly if we fall off the beaten path, and we’re pretty convinced we just need to be doing more, not knowing if or when we have finally done enough yet.
…Just who are we supposed to be?
The Man I’m Supposed To Be
Who are you supposed to be as a man? One of my favourite movies is Something Borrowed (and definitely my favourite chick flick). One of the reasons I like it so much is that the leading male is a pretty realistic character. Throughout the movie, he’s constantly realizing that the expectations of his parents, his friends, his love interests, and himself, are framing him to be someone who he doesn’t quite think he wants to be, making decisions he really doesn’t want to make, and all in all not really being sure exactly what he wants to do.
As a man, you’re under pressure to be capable and confident. Society needs men to take the lead and redeem the atrocities those who have gone before us (or around us) have committed. We need fathers, husbands, and men in general who are going to use their strength for the benefit of others.
What does that look like for you?
The Woman I’m Supposed To Be
Who are you supposed to be as a woman? I guess the most famous standard for women would be the Proverbs 31 woman. The one who laughs with no fear of tomorrow. The one who’s the great mother and wife and worker. The one who has the wisdom of Michelle Obama, the looks of some beautiful actress, and the grace and servant heart of Mother Teresa.
Modern women are under the pressure to have to want to be it all and do it all. It is communicated to women today to be the best in your career as well as the best in the home as well as looking like a babe of a superstar, all at the same time. But what if you… don’t want a career? What if motherhood and being a good wife is all you want? Or what if it’s the opposite? What if you do have a pure career drive in your life? Are you less of a woman because you’re not meeting these apparent expectations?
The central character in our story today is you. Whether you’re a man or a woman, young or old, you have a part to play in our world. I was talking to someone this week and telling them that one of the main reasons I think relationships are so powerful, especially the romantic ones, are because they push all the buttons in our lives. I think often our attitudes towards them are incredibly telling about our hearts. Marriage is temporary, but its effects aren’t. Not saying you have to be married to be truly living your life (unless you’re called to it, then you may be avoiding a significant part of your calling), but I think they have great power in showing us what’s really inside.
If two people become interested in each other, for instance, all of a sudden, they are pushing the “how I feel about my parents” button, all the things your ex-interests said and did, how you feel about your appearance, the way you use your time, the expectations of others, who you want to be, all your frustrations, all your doubts, the fact you’re actually afraid of someone wanting to stay, the fear of… on and on.
And many other things in our lives can press the same buttons. It can be a tiring exercise because at the end of the day, it may just reveal that the source of our identity, where we get our source of truth regarding ourselves, may not actually be very well centred.
I love how Scripture says that everyone has a part to play, like body parts in a body. Not everyone is called to be a hand, otherwise we’d be Thing from The Addams Family, and not everyone is called to be an eye. Some people are though, and sometimes those higher visibility type roles are scary for people. The problem is we’re surrounded by people playing so many different parts, which cause us to doubt the part we’re meant to play, and who we’re meant to be.
Here’s some truth to centre your life on. You’re a son and a daughter. Created with purpose. Loved because of your existence and nothing more.
I think knowing that on its own isn’t enough for us to live out the specific things that we’ve been called to live out. It’s a balance of knowing I am valuable because I have been given value, but also realizing that I’m here for a reason.
And so I pose a very important question to you.
Who Will You Choose To Be?
I think our choices make all the difference in the world. The most perfect situation can turn into a nightmare because of a bad decision. You could find the most amazing career path in the world, marry the most beautiful person, live in the best house on the best street, and yet through your own decisions end up unemployed, divorced, and bitter. Conversely, the most dire circumstances can be turned around by making the right decisions.
So what decisions will you make? Who do you want to be?
A lot of us live our lives like we’re still waiting for someone to tell us what to do. Like we still haven’t been given to permission to pursue the things we know we should. In the world of faith, we fall to obedience and hearing from God. And I am the biggest fan of that.
But recognize that perhaps He has already told you what to do and who to be.
Are your choices today taking you closer or further away from the things you want to see accomplished in your life?
Call out those things that are stopping you for what they really are. Fear. Doubt. Insecurity. Loneliness. They lose a lot of their power when they are identified.
If you want to be a great father, mother, husband or wife, choose that you are going to be that person, no matter what the other people in your life decide to do. If you want to take a particular career path, get the wisdom you need, and then commit to your decision. If you want to build the right relationships, build them. Choose to encourage others and speak life, and not to be consumed by negativity.
If you want to be a world changer, stop waiting. Just do it. It’s in you, it’s on you, it’s who you are. Be a faithful steward of your time, your love, and your life.
That’s how you and I can be who we are supposed to be.