Remember who you are…four words my dad said to me every time I left home and would be faced with “life decisions” – dates, big trips without them, college. Actually, it was “remember who you are, Alex P”, and he would look at me in such a way that I knew it wasn’t a flippant reminder to act right. He meant something much deeper that my young soul took quite seriously. This phrase has impacted me in an exponential way. The older I get, the bigger its value. I’ve never asked my dad, but I think this was his intention. He wanted me to live a life that honored what he already knew about me when I wasn’t capable of knowing it myself. It made me stop before I did something and ask the question, does this choice honor who I am?
As I have gotten older, I made this incredible connection between my dad and my Father. In the same way that my dad’s phrase imprinted on my heart, God wants his Word to do the same. I can apply the sentence I applied to my dad to my Heavenly Father (with a little change) – He wants me to live a life that honors what He already knows about me even when I am not capable of knowing it myself. Isn’t that just amazing?
In a book within the Old Testament, a prophet named Jeremiah writes of a message God sent to him. His message was:
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
So that means that even before Jeremiah was born, God knew who he was and who he was capable of being. He put Jeremiah on his path before he was even a possibility. This is true for everyone! God knows us more than our earthly fathers ever could. He knows us more intimately and more honestly than any person can. So the amazing wisdom my dad gave to me is something my Heavenly Father wishes for every person on this planet every day.
God is whispering. God is speaking. God is shouting. Straight into our hearts.
Remember who you are.
How do we do this? How do we live a life that honors what our Heavenly Father knows about us? How do we remember who we are? This is such a challenging concept that every person (Christian or not) has to face.
The culture we live in bombards us with ideas and lifestyles that don’t exactly align with the life God wants for us. When God’s and the dominant culture’s truths aren’t congruent, tension occurs. Because this tension can be so painful (especially as a young adult), a lot of us yield to the most obvious judge of our actions – culture. We can’t see God, we can’t touch God, and we can’t witness his disapproval. However, the people around us and the tangible world we live in are obvious to us. We are extremely sensitive creatures. We want to be liked, we want to be loved, and we want to fit in. If we aren’t getting those needs met, it can be hard to stay true to ourselves (trust me, I’ve been there).
But, it is totally possible. I’ve been thinking about how I’ve implemented this in my life because of my dad and based on what God tells us. After thinking on this awhile, I’ve tried to create a list of helpful ways to remember who you are when we face situations that may compromise who you are. We are all going to be faced with these situations and for this reason, we need to be prepared.
- Make a list of hard NOs
Hard NOs are things you would never do under any circumstances. There are no “what if” scenarios, no compromises, and no leniency. When it is a hard NO, it should never go. Having these established in your heart and your mind can take the tension away for you. There never has to be an inner battle because there is nothing to battle over. It’s already decided. When you relinquish that choice, you become free and you honor who God knows you are.
I thought I would share a couple of hard NOs I had growing up and still implement now. These served me so well. I never felt pressure to do them because I knew it wasn’t a choice.
No sex before marriage – This one is a doozy. Let me just tell you…the harder it is to follow through, the more rewarding it is when you do. Living a life with no regrets about my sexual past is the most incredible feeling in the world.
No drugs – This one wasn’t as hard because I didn’t surround myself with people who did do them. I did have to end some relationships because of them (which was so hard) but I never regretted doing it.
No inappropriate friendships – I actually created this hard NO after experiences I have had as a teenager. If either (or both) parties of an opposite sex friendship are in a relationship, cool the jets on the closeness. SO much pain can manifest. I’ve caused pain and received it, so I know firsthand how important this is to live by. I’m extremely glad I established this hard NO before I got married.
2. Remember that sometimes consequences aren’t immediate
I think it is extremely important to remember that sometimes are choices don’t yield consequences right away. We think if we only do it once, no one gets hurt, or we don’t feel pain, then it’s okay to sacrifice what we know is right – because it is fun, because it feels good, or because we want to. However, choices that potentially compromise who we are, are called that for a reason. Really think about how this could hurt you in the long run before you decide to do something. Look at the situation from all angles.
3. Have an accountability person/group
Choose people to be in your corner. Choose people who can help you remember who you are when you aren’t able to. These are people you confide in, trust their judgement, and will listen to when you aren’t able to discern effectively. These should be people who know how God sees you and truly want you to live out that life. They want you to make choices that honor that. When I was a teenager, my accountability person was my mom. Now, I have a married small group. You need people in your life to guide you. Life wasn’t meant to be done by yourself.
4. Give yourself grace
We are human. We mess up. It’s okay! I think sometimes we can get caught up in the “all or nothing” mentality and this is so not fair to us. If we mess up once, we don’t have to sacrifice who we are because of the guilt or shame we might feel. We can use it.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
We don’t have to submit to the lie that we are bad people when we make a bad choice. Choose grace. God still sees you just as you are.
I hope this helps you remember who you are.
At the very least, always ask yourself the question does this choice honor who I am?
If you aren’t quite sure, talk to God. He knows who you are and loves you so, so much.