I’ve been like the Ranger in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I’ll bet that at some point you’ve been too. A person of character and integrity playing a key role in the drama. Playing it well. Caring, encouraging, fighting valiantly to protect others against some evil. But preferring to fight in the shadows, hood pulled up over my head. Hiding my real self.
Elrond’s words pierce me, words spoken when he handed Aragorn the sword that once had been broken and called him to take his rightful place as the king of Gondor. “Put aside the Ranger. Become who you were born to be.”
The words challenge me. Excite me. They’re good words. Freedom words. Oh, yes, I want to be who I was born to be! Sometimes. And sometimes not. Then they’re frightening words. They feel heavy.
“God, It’s too hard! I can’t do it! I can’t!”
He sends reassurance: “God’s mercies are new every morning — not as an obligation to you, but as an affirmation of you.” (Ann Voskamp)
One of those great mercies is that he doesn’t let us stay hiding in the shadows of some seven billion other clones, each clamoring to be a little faster, stronger, better.
He loves us. Me. You. Yes, you. He likes you, too. He wants you to be who you were born to be because He planned you just the way He wanted you.
“Become who you were born to be.” Not because he wants to make things harder for you. Because he wants to set you free. Because his love has made you great and he doesn’t want you to miss out on the joy of being who you’re born to be. Because he doesn’t want the rest of his body to miss out on it either.
Why do we fear becoming ourselves? Is it because we’re afraid who we are isn’t enough? That we’ll be judged by those who want to mold us in their own image? That’s just the point. Faster, better, busier: they’re all measured against others. I will fail if I’m trying to be who someone else was born to be.
Or do we fear that we’ll try and fall flat? That we won’t know who we were born to be, or won’t be able to get there? That's the other key. I will fail if I think that becoming myself means making it happen myself. I am not made to be an independent individual. I am made to be a person, joined to and filled with the Persons at the center of the universe. Joined to and part of Christ’s body.
I was born to be me. You were born to be you. And part of that you-ness is your union with Christ. Until you are united to him, you’re not the you you were born to be. And when you are united to him, then you no longer carry the weight of becoming the real you by yourself. You’re hanging onto him, and he to you, and he’s making you into the you you were born to be. He’s completing the work of creation that he began when he dreamed you. That is good news!
There’s a freedom in becoming yourself. What do you have to lose? Your life, perhaps. But it will be given back to you once you’re free to live it fully. And when you’re trying to be someone else, you stand to lose everything. Including yourself.
There is fear in hiding, and fear in stepping out. We get to choose our fear. The difference is that one leads to real joy.
We weren't all born to be king of Gondor. But we were all born to be someone that no one else can be.
"So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t." (Romans 12:5-6 The Message)