I love to watch little kids play dress-up. Give a five-year-old girl an over-sized pair of shoes and a bright scarf or hat and she will instantly become all grownup as she pretends to be mommy or someone else she admires. Likewise, all a little boy needs is a cap and badge and he will immediately become a chief law enforcement officer. We smile at their role playing, but I wonder how much we play dress-up in real life. How often do we pretend to be something or somebody that we really are not?
- We want to belong or be accepted so we dress and act like those we hope will include us.
- We feign interest in things in which we have no interest in order to impress or attract someone.
- We do things we don’t want to do just so we can conform to a certain image or expectation.
In addition, we often hide or mask our true thoughts and feelings. We may laugh when we feel like crying, act fearless when our knees are knocking together, and act like we have it altogether when we’re totally confused and mixed-up.
Why? Why do we feel the need to be something different from what we really are? Why do we feel that we cannot be honest about our true thoughts and feelings?
Oftentime it is because of fear. We want to be liked and accepted so it is difficult to be totally, completely transparent with others. We fear people won’t like us if they really know us – our weaknesses, insecurities, doubts, or frustrations. It seems easier to pretend to be the person we think they want us to be.
I know that over the years I’ve done my share of “role-playing,” trying to fit in or be accepted. But, thankfully, someone has helped me learn that I don’t have to pretend. This someone loves and accepts me just the way I am – whether I have it altogether or whether I am mixed up and confused. But I’ve also learned that this someone is not content to leave me the way I am. He’s all about making me better and more like Him.
By now you probably recognize this someone I’m talking about. God knows us intimately. In Psalm 139:1-6 David recounts God’s knowledge of man. “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.”
We cannot hide from God or pretend to be something we’re not because He knows us perfectly. He searches and knows our hearts (see Jeremiah 17:10 and Luke 16:15) and He knows those who are His (see 2 Timothy 2:19). We do not have to worry about whether He will like or accept us. His Word assures us that He has “set His love upon us” (Psalm 91:14). He longs for us to come to Him and His desire is not “that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
And what is even more astounding to me is what God sees in us that we cannot see in ourselves. We may feel like that preschooler playing dress-up sometimes, like nothing fits us exactly right whether it is our job, home situation, or our lot in life. But God looks past the misfits we feel we are to the individuals that we can become. The Bible is full of examples of ordinary people that He called and equipped for great service, people who didn’t always see themselves as God saw them. To name just a few – Moses who felt inadequate to talk to Pharaoh; Jacob who ran for his life after deceiving his father and stealing his brother’s blessing; Gideon who was from the weakest clan in Manasseh and the least in his father’s house, but God called him a mighty man of valor; Jephthah, an illegitimate son of Gilead who was driven from his home by his brothers and ran with a group of worthless men, yet he returned to become one of the chief deliverers of the people of Israel; David who was called as a shepherd boy yet became one of the greatest kings of Israel; Mary, a young virgin called to be the mother of God’s Son. There are countless other examples of judges, prophets, kings, and everyday people like James and John, Peter and Andrew, Matthew and Zacchaeus, in whom God recognized something more than what they probably perceived themselves.
I cannot help but wonder what God sees when He looks at me. What does He see when He looks at you?
Father, You see me as I am,
You know me through and through,
There’s nothing within or without
That I can hide from You.
Father, such knowledge comforts me,
For I don’t need to pretend,
I can be honest and open with You,
You’ll always be my friend.
You see beyond my armor,
The thick shell I hide within,
And You peel away each layer
To let Your light shine in.
You soften all the hard spots,
The roughened edges, You smooth,
You give purpose and direction,
My tumultuous heart, You soothe.
You transform this misfit
Who did not fit in before,
And You give me life and victory,
I’m not a misfit anymore.