A Letter To My Teen Self: Identity
“Never alter yourself to satisfy others” I hear you say to all your friends; “be yourself!” you preach. Really? You really want to go there Michael? The intention of this letter isn’t to break you, but build you. Wake up! I want to see you grow into the man you know that you’re called to be.
There is only One who knows you even better than I do – but I know you pretty darn well. You’re so bruised, so broken and insecure, so empty and fragile. The bullying of your past and the disgusting sins you’ve allowed to consume your life have poisoned your life. You’re so fake, so so fake my friend. If only you could see it… if only you’d allow yourself to look to the One who can show you a true reflection of who you currently are and who you were created to be.
Day and night you remember the bullying and nasty remarks said to you all through primary and secondary school. Yes, you had every right to be hurt but how foolish were your follow-up actions Michael? You’ve built walls after walls around yourself, attempting every possible way to mask the hurt you feel. You keep running from your list of insecurities that’s getting larger and larger. You’re so afraid of rejection that you’ve built multiple personas that perfectly fit all the boxed categories of your life; the funny-never-serious Michael vs the ‘deep’-serious-advice-giver Michael. The loud Michael overcompensating for the humour that you feel you lack vs the quiet and contemplative Michael that’s so foreign to people because they only get to see him when you’re seriously hurt. Every time you see an attribute you admire in someone, you copy and paste. A new identity. A new Michael added to the list. Another way to gain popularity and approval. You’ve completely convinced yourself that your worth comes only through the way you dress and your hairstyles – after all, that’s what you’re always getting complimented on right?
But thank God you’re not like these ‘terrible sinners’ around you at church that club and drink; you’re a passionate servant of the Lord – holy and righteous…and you make sure everyone sees it. You live for the moment when your deacon voice will be noticed, ask the most intellectual questions at youth meeting because that’s how you view spirituality and have an opinion about every political aspect in the church. At school it’s even harder – you have to work extra hard for that attention! You’re speaking vulgar words that you’d never imagined yourself to say. You publically proclaim yourself as ‘Coptic Orthodox Christian’ when you have no idea what Orthodoxy’s about. You run after gossip; you crave it – what else can you possibly talk about? Any other topic will show how boring you believe you really are.
You feed off people’s attention and compliments; everyday you run after your own glory and thirst for people’s approval. Stop, please stop! Don’t you see this life of absolute hypocrisy that you’re living? Can’t you feel the void in your heart?! Michael, all you’re running after, all you desire, everything you’ve ever wanted to be, every insecurity you’ve wanted to eradicate is found in JESUS. It’s Jesus that gives freedom. In His freedom you’ll find your identity – who you’re called to be! And oh Michael, if only you’d allow Him to share with you some of His plans for you…. if only you’d allow Him to start healing you…. if only you’d look to His everything instead of your nothing. Michael there’s something that I’m about to share with you that will change your life forever, one word that will literally turn your world upside down: GRACE. Yes, grace! God loves you forever Michael, He loves you as much as He loves St. Mary, St. Abanoub and the Pope – NO LESS, He’s madly in love with you while you’re committing your ugliest filthiest sin! You. Are. Loved. Unconditionally.
I want to let you know that one day you’ll look up to Heaven and for the first time you’ll be honest before God, openly telling Him your fear of people, of the future, of Him.. and oh Michael I can’t begin to explain to you how you’ll be transformed right there and then in that moment with your Saviour. Healing will finally begin! The Holy Spirit will flood your heart; a consuming fire will literally burn within you. He WILL give you peace. He WILL give you confidence. He WILL give you the identity you’ve been running after your entire life. At last you will begin to live.
Now blameless, He calls you holy; you’ve been forgiven,
He calls you righteous and free.
Now spotless, He calls you worthy; you are His child,
He calls you chosen, you are His.
Dear younger me, you were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.
Every mountain, every valley, through each heartache you will see,
that in every moment Jesus brings you closer to who you were meant to be.
“She said to her mistress, “if only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria!
He would cure him of his leprosy.”
2 Kings 5:3