For most of my life I based my identity on someone's reaction to something someone else had done to me. Rather than witnessing the offender being reprimanded for what he did, the first 'someone' mentioned above, whom I loved dearly, turned to me, the victim in that incident, as though I were guilty of the alleged crime rather than the one who had supposedly been sinned against. The look of disgust, disappointment and anger that flickered through the first someone's eye broke my heart, and, in that, I went on to find my worth - or lack thereof.
(And, no, I wasn't sexually abused; it was stopped before it could begin - yet, I still carried the guilt and shame of what was done, and what could have been. Remember, I was seeing all this from a child's point of view. PLEASE be careful how you react to a child; mind your words and how they're delivered. It does get in. It can break them. And if they've been sinned against, make sure they know you know that... Anyway...)
From that moment on, I stopped being 'me'. I no longer had the courage to be me. I wanted to please that first someone and worked to live at their feet as humbly as I could - hoping they would forgive me and love me as I believed they 'used to'. I wanted to be whatever they wanted me to be...whatever that was.
From the age of seven, all the way through my teen years, and way into adulthood, I carried the weight that was placed on me by someone else, and all the guilt and insecurity that came with it. A weight cast on me by a reaction that should've gone to someone else - and the shame cast on me by the actions of another, though I never blamed him for it. I grew up believing what had happened, and what the second person was aiming to do, was my fault. I was the one in the wrong. I was the bad person. I deserved to have the love of that first someone taken from me...
It would take much counselling by God Himself to free me of the weight, guilt and shame of what I should never have had to carry in the first place. The weight, guilt and shame of a 'crime' that was not mine.
For many years I carried that weight. It became the foundation of my character (my weaknesses, anyhow), and the place where I would go to form my identity. I became withdrawn. I became shy to the point of feeling terror whenever I met someone or had to speak to anyone. I feared other people's thoughts of me, and responses to me. I would cry or hide before I spoke to many. I would crawl into a corner and allow others to believe the worst of me before I would defend myself. I would bow to the put-downs of others because I believed their hatred towards me was justified. "They were good; I was bad. It was as simple as that. I got what I deserved..." and so on and so forth.
The reaction that hit me hard that day opened me up to fear. I became fearful and shy, and grew to believe I was an introvert, and, therefore, lived as such. But as I said in the first blog in this series, God didn't make me to be an introvert. Introverts are great, I love them - seriously; but He didn't make me to be one. I became an introvert solely because of fear. I took on a wrong identity and, even as a Christian, I related to the introvert and wore that wrong identity, and, because of this, never knew true freedom. I don't want to live that way anymore. I want to be free. I ache for it. Therefore I must stop agreeing with the lies that kept the real me locked away.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
the new creation has come:"
the old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
In Christ, we are a new creation...we are forgiven and healed and can now pick up and move on from the past, knowing the best is yet to come. But we will never be free, I found (from experience), if we do not step up to the plate and collect our new, and true, identity.