How do I find the Real Me?

Finding “The Real Me” started ten years ago, in 1999. It was a big turning point in my life. It didn’t happen overnight but I can look back and see how it was God’s shaping me into the woman He created me to be, the woman I want to be.

You see, I’d become a Christian in 1989 and had been on a journey of getting to know Jesus for 10 years. I remember in the Spring of 1999 feeling very frustrated and disillusioned. The Christian life wasn’t what I had expected or hoped it would be. I wanted joy, contentment and purpose. But there was so much searching and striving in my life – looking for something that would satisfy the desires of my heart to find security and significance.

I was sitting in my living room one morning reading my Bible and journaling about how Jesus said He came to give us abundant life but there was nothing abundant in my life except busyness, obligations, guilt and discontentment. I felt like my heart was shriveling up to die. I felt like I couldn’t breath spiritually.

As I poured out my heart on those pages, I cried out to God for help. I remember Him drawing my memories back to when I first became a Christian. I’d spend hours reading my Bible, overwhelmed by His grace and truth. Then I’d write in my journal and pour out my heart to Him.

All those dusty journals sat in a drawer and God invited me to go back to them and remember. Through that remembering, He showed me that I had lost the closeness of my first Love. It wasn’t that He had moved away, I had. Although I had been walking with Him for 10 years, somehow I had gotten lost along the path.

Patterns of people-pleasing and performance-based living had found their way back into my life and were guiding my every thought; my every decision. I was in bondage to others’ opinions and expectations.

The odd thing is that it looked like I was living for God and serving Him with all of my heart. I was a stay-at-home-mom with a volunteer staff position at P31, which I did mostly from home. I was on the women’s prayer team at church, co-lead a mom’s Bible study, attended another one on Wednesday nights. I reached out to women in my neighborhood, dropped everything to help a friend in need. My house was way to clean and my family probably felt like they lived in a display case instead of a home.

It makse me tired and a little sick to list all that, and believe me it eventually made me sick. My heart was no longer alive. It had gone numb. I was slipping into a pit of depression. Focused on serving other people for the wrong reasons, I felt hopeless when my accomplishments or their compliments didn’t satisfy.

I had assumed God wanted me to busy myself with good things in His name. But instead of asking Him what He wanted, I became who my mom and dad wanted me to be. Who my husband and kids needed me to be. Who friends and co-workers expected me to be.

Some might say we need to be careful when talking about finding the real me, and I understand. There is an important balance. I’m not saying find the real “you” so you can neglect everyone else and be selfish. I am saying, first find your joy and fulfillment in who you are in Christ – not what you can do for Him and others. “Delight yourself in HIM and He will give you the desires of your heart” – to match His desires for you. (Psalm 37:4)

Find out who God wants you to be, who God created you to be and you will become the woman you want to be.

One of my first steps was finding out what makes my heart come alive. I was reading the Sacred Romance and this quote poured Living Water on my weary heart: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Harold Thurman Whitman

Today I want to encourage you to ask God to show you two things. First, ask Him to show you His absolute delight in you. Just simply be still and let Him love you! Then ask Him to show you one thing that makes your heart come alive. For me it was reading, writing, planting flowers and going for long walks – which I never had time to do.

What about you? Is it reading? Is it writing? Is it colors, flowers, smells, bubble baths, music, artwork, laughter, order, encouraging others, making something with your hands, exercise, ___________? Are you ready to find out?

Share your thoughts by clicking “comments” below. If you don’t have a blog, simply click anonymous and write in the white box. I”ll post more this week about my journey in hopes that it will help you in yours.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. One of the greatest joys and sense of fulfillment I have is being your assistant! What a priviledge and honor it is to serve along side of you each day and share the love of Christ with others.

    Love,
    Leah

  2. Thanks for this post. I am still struggling and looking for what God wants me to be doing. I guess I need to take some time and find out what brings me alive 🙂

  3. Great words Renee – I can so relate to your story of living to please others. I'm not as far into this journey of finding the real me, but the process has begun and it is amazing what God is revealing and the doors He is opening. He wants each one of us to be the unique individual He created. Thanks for sharing, Jill

  4. You have written my heart here. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your journey, Renee. It is a blessing to read as I return to my first Love, too.

    You are a blessing!
    K

  5. ConnieH says:

    Hi Renee. Again, thanks for sharing. I would be very interested in doing an online study on this topic. I thought I had a pretty good idea of who God created me to be and what He created me to do, but a few years ago my world, on several levels, seemed to implode and I have been struggling to pull myself out of that pit ever since.

    Maybe a study on finding the real me that God created would be just the thing to help pull me out!

  6. What if I don't know what makes me "come alive"? For over ten years, my life has revolved around my husband's needs and then his mother's needs. Now that I am seperated and it's just me–I'm clueless.
    My dad had been with me for two weeks during the move into my apartment. Last night was my first night alone—not staying at someone else's home, not having my dad with me—I just sat there not sure what to do.
    I find myself comparing to others–what they do with their time, what they like. I had a coworker ask me where my favorite place to eat was and I couldn't tell her.
    If you feel the Lord leading you to an on-line study I would definately be a part of it.

  7. You are giving me so much to think about here, Renee. I just wanted to chime in with these other girls in saying that I would be interested in doing an online study on this topic too if you felt God leading you in that direction. 🙂 Very good!

  8. Anonymous says:

    For Jekka- You're going to be just fine… it will take awhile but you will be just fine. You know why? You want to be! God is not all that mysterious… He loves you, becasue of that love He wants you to trust Him, and because all the plans He has for your future would be too overwhenlming if He showed them to you all at once… He wants you to enjoy that step-by-step journey. Something tells me you're just that kind of gal that well amke the most of that journey!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you! I was struggling with wether going through what brings me sadness or fall for the activities I enjoy: the real me. I am realizing that even professionally speaking I have the right to trust God instead of going according to the ways of the world. Yet this is a harder path to take or maybe not. Afterall, all I need is faith.

  10. I can certainly relate to your statement, "there was nothing abundant in my life except busyness, obligations, guilt and discontentment" in a major way. I think the online study is a wonderful idea! Please keep me posted on when that may be available.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Renee, I look forward to checking my emails to read your posts! Just today, the Lord spoke to me about this very thing. About being exactly who He called me to be, created me to be! I am attending She Speaks and cannot wait to meet you in person! Your words encourage me often! I am doing the Chronological Bible this year that, I believe, you had suggested on P31. Can you say LIFE CHANGING!! The Lord has done an extreme makeover and it is sooo exciting!
    See you soon!
    Christi Smith, GA

  12. Anonymous says:

    I just happen to run across your blog. I am so glad I did. Your words really inspired me. I am getting started for a closer walk with OUR LORD. Do you have any books, bible studies that you would like to "get ride of"? I would certainly appreciate any help I can get.
    Nancy In NC

  13. mary lynn says:

    I have wandered away from God even in the midst of doing ministry for Him and the Kingdom. How can He bless my efforts and time when I am not abiding in Him? Guilt, frustration, discontent with the way things are- I am robbing God, my husband,kids, myself, the people and children I serve of so many blessings. Finding my purpose and aligning my activities with God's Will is so needed.

  14. Renee,
    This is a powerful and honest post. I relate to it in so many ways. Thank you for sharing this and encouraging us to be our true selves in Christ — not that person that we think others want us to be.
    Blessings,
    Ann

  15. Renee-
    Thank you so much for being so willing to share your heart and what God is doing in your life.
    These are things that I struggle with as a mom of 3 kids under 6 yrs of age.
    I am definetly interested in an online bible study.
    Look forward to hearing soon.

    Chrissy Gunning
    cgunning94504@adelphia.net

  16. Renee,

    Again, what you are sharing about your life is definately something common among women! I am on a similar journey and sometimes I am not sure yet whether I am the "real me." I can definitely say it is a process and perhaps we never fully arrive since life goes through seasons. The most important thing for me was 1) My understanding was opened and I saw that I was going through the motions and was reflecting the kind of person others expected me to be; 2) Examine myself to see who I am and what my gifts are; 3) Put Christ FIRST! True discipleship. And I can say I believe that JOY and PEACE are returning to my life!

  17. Renee, Thanks for another great post to get us thinking. I feel like I have just been going through the motions (as the current song by Matthew West says). I really have no idea what makes me feel alive. I like crafting, whether that is making cards, sewing or something else, and cooking/baking, none of which I seem to find the time to do between work and the kids (7 and 4). I feel like I short change them, and my husband but I think I need to get myself together with God before I can be the wife and mother He created me to be. Just not sure how to do it. I would also be interested in doing an on-line study.

  18. What a great post! I've been through my own journey of self discovery. I realized what makes me come alive is coaching mothers to find careers or bizs that connect their career and their calling. Thank you for being honest about our need to know how we are wonderfully, fearfully and uniquely wired. As I can see from the other comments this is a desperate need in the heart of so many women. God's richest blessings to you!

  19. Renee,

    Praying for you as you get ready for She Speaks and Aster! How exciting to be buying pink!
    Diane

  20. Hey, Renee! This was such a great post! I've been back and forth between that place you described! Right now, I'm in a place where He wants me to be. It's not easy though! I'm learning to say "no" to some wonderful things and saying "Yes, Lord, I'm listening and waiting on You."

    Love ya!
    Susan

  21. I am new to your site but have so enjoyed this post. At 65 I too have been back and fourth so very often like you stated but I am finding "Me" and the passion God has put in my heart and life through tiny steps of obedience even when I am absolutely afraid. He is showing me that my age, cancer, lack of training, ect. does not disqualify me from His use and plan, only disobedience does. I am currently collecting donated scarves to give to the beautiful but poor HIV women, survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. This is my fifth trip and God has given me such love for the people in general and a passion for sharing the Gospel with them and the men and women in prison. God is revealing a plan for me far bigger than I ever could have even dreamed of. An on line Bible study sounds great!

  22. Renee, I am speachless. Tears are running down my face reading this. I have been so busy trying to make sure everything is perfect for my family that we are all stressed and I keep sinking further into depression. On the outside everything looks great. We have 2 great kids, we attend church regularly, are involved in every ministry possible. During the school year I volunteer at the kids's school and participate in 2 in depth Bible studies (Beth Moore and CBS). I know the Word but I am having a hard time living the Word. I spend so much time trying to do everything perfect that I end up feeling like a failure at ever venture. I have no idea what I like to do, I never have. I get so worked up at trying to be the perfect mom, wife, christian, etc. that I basically crumble and want to run away. I constantly feel like my family would be better off without me and my strife.

    Sorry for my ramblings. Your words have struck a chord with me. I would love to know where I am supposed to be and WHO I am supposed to be. God's timing is perfect.

  23. I've just discovered your blog – you write to easily and share struggles that we all experience. Thank you!

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