When did you lose it? When did your foundation give way, causing you to lose your faith, your hope, and the truth of who you were created to be – only to be replaced with a deceitful lie disguising itself as ‘your new truth’?
I remember. It took me 40 years to identify that time in my life and call it out for what it really was – but in finally being able to do so, I was able to at last remove that long-lived lie and place truth back into its rightful place in my identity.
A few weeks ago I was honored to assist the crew on set of a short film being made for film competitions, and the filming took place in an old abandoned house. It was this abandoned house that triggered memories from 40 years ago that I had worked so hard to forget.
Arming yourself with truth really does set you free.
I spent a lot of time alone while growing up. As an only child I did not have any built-in playmates; and friends – real friends – were hard to come by. My family first moved to Texas when I was 13. At that point, we had already moved 21 times. I lived in many different cities in Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, and Oklahoma, and then moved around quite a bit in the Dallas / Fort Worth area where I live now.
The wide variety of spaces that became my many different bedrooms as a child shaped my belief of who I was. In one 3-room apartment that had a kitchen, living room and bedroom, the bathroom with a broken lock was in the corridor just outside our front door and was shared with 3 other families that lived on that floor.
The only space for me was a 3’ x 3’ closet with an old accordion door that didn’t shut. I slept curled up on a red vinyl bean bag that filled the floor of that closet and spilled out into the small hallway. I distinctly remember though still having a bit of child-like hope, dreaming of one day being able to replace all the roaches crawling around with diamonds I could hang on the wall to make the place sparkle and shine.
Then we moved. Again. This time it was to an abandoned motel where I was directed to my room. Any excitement I felt for finally having my own room was quickly replaced with a broken, defeated spirit as I looked around and saw what I had been given. My red bean bag was now replaced by a deteriorating, smelly mattress on the floor. It lay there amidst the grime of discarded cans, newspapers, molding bits of food in old take-out containers, alcohol and drug paraphernalia, and a few dead pigeons whose feathers were glistening in the light that was streaming in from the dimly lit parking lot through my shattered bedroom window.
That child-like hope of being able to change things or fix things completely disappeared. That’s where I lost it. That’s where the truth of what I was worth and who I was created to be was replaced with the lie that I was as worthless as the garbage on the floor. I was nobody. The bar regarding my self-worth and what I thought I deserved as a human being wasn’t just set low, it was lost – tangled up somewhere in the debris of life just like I was.
I struggled with this defeated belief of worthlessness for years – decades actually. It affects EVERYTHING! Why? Because our identity dictates our behavior. If we identify ourselves as worthless, then in relationships, we settle and self-sabotage, because, well, we probably got better than what we deserved anyway. When we identify ourselves as garbage, why would we polish up our appearance by putting pearls on a pig? I also couldn’t bring myself to invest in healthy friendships, because they’re a two-way street, right? You need to bring something to the table, have something of value to add to the relationship and from my perspective; I had nothing. I convinced myself that I’d just be a bother, they already have enough friends, and they’re too busy anyway.
I felt so empty and lost – most of my life – which was ruled by anxiety. Every step, every word, every action came with heart palpitations, sweats, stomach problems, and an overwhelming fear that at any moment someone would look at me, see me for the fraud I was, and tell me I didn’t belong there – or anywhere.
There was that longing for something more, but it got buried with the truth of who I was created to be. The worst part of it is that it’s really hard to find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Whenever you are looking for something and someone is trying to help you find it, what’s one of the first things they ask? “Well, when did you last have it?”
The implication there is that to find what you’re looking for, you need to go back to where you last saw it, or last imagined it to exist. That applies to tangible objects like your phone and your car keys, and it also applies to intangible items like your self-worth, and the truth of who you were created to be.
Now, 40 years later, standing there in that abandoned house, that moment in time came roaring back to me as our lead character sat in the middle of that filthy floor, and gave her critical line – the title of the film – “I am nobody.”
I was overwhelmed. I knew I had just been given a revelation and the tool I needed to combat that lie I had believed for years.
Now, armed with truth, knowing the very instant in time when that lie jumped into my identity, I was able to face it, challenge it, and see it for what it was – a lie. That old abandoned motel room I was given as a child didn’t determine my worth and identity any more than my bank account does today. Our value cannot be placed in the ever-changing appearances, finances, and circumstances of our world; that is where anxiety lives and breathes and overtakes our lives.
Our identity only comes from WHO we are, and WHO we are becoming, as we grow more and more into WHO we were created to be – which takes a lifetime of discovery provided we give ourselves the chance to be known.
Knowing WHO you are determines how you behave – so take time to discover more of YOU. How? Stop wasting time striving to be significant, trying to control life, and trying to be all things to all people. Instead, take time to stop and discover the significance of who you already are.
So, what is it you are looking for? What is it that you have lost, and where did you last have it or imagine that it could exist?
What lie in your identity needs to be replaced with the truth of WHO you are and WHO you were created to be – a valuable, unique, forgiven, restored, and free son or daughter who has a heavenly Father who RUNS after YOU, searches for YOU, and longs for you to let yourself get closer to Him so you can RECEIVE his never-ending love and grace.
YOU ARE SOMEBODY SPECIAL, with a HOPEFUL FUTURE, here for a purpose far beyond your own comprehension, who today can grab a hold of your TRUE identity as a beloved child of God. Here, you are family – it’s a place of freedom, and a place where you will always belong!