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I used to try and define myself in silly ways.

If I’d dress a certain way, talk a certain way, do certain things, and hang out with certain people, then I thought that I’d be perceived a certain way.  And I so desperately wanted to be perceived in a certain way.  But after awhile, I realized that the struggling to define myself only resulted in more and more struggling.

So I’m writing this for all who struggle like me.

For those who wrestle with understanding who they are.  For those still trying to desperately throw together the puzzle pieces of an ideal life.   For those wondering about what they can contribute to the world.  For those searching for love, fame, success, thrills, or escape to make them alive.

For those who feel like they are missing out on the best version of themselves.  And those that have failed to live up to someone else’s expectations.

For those who have failed, and have found that getting back up isn’t easy.  For those who have tried, only to be bruised and hurt.  For those that believe different things;  for those who go against the grain, and buck the status quo.  For those who never really feel like they fit in;  who always feel somehow a bit distant and outside.

For those for whom life is not easy, know this:

Your failures have not defined you.  Just because you didn’t land the job, or haven’t married the dude doesn’t mean that you are less of a person.  Just because you haven’t signed the book deal or made the dream profitable doesn’t mean that you will always be stuck in loserville.

Your successes will not determine you.  A relationship won’t magically make everything perfect.  A job won’t fix you.  A sport, hobby, craft, or habit won’t make the feelings go away.  Just like your failures, success (whatever your definition) isn’t permanent.

What you’re feeling is a season.  If you’re sad, it’s for a season.  If you’re lonely, it’s for a season.  If you’re hurting and broken, it will only be for a season.  Always remind yourself that things won’t always be this way;  that a new day is approaching.

What matters is who you undeniably are:  a remarkably crafted, uniquely created masterpiece set with the glory of heaven in your chest.  You are God’s image;  His son or daughter planted here on this rock we call Earth to do something extraordinary, significant, and beautiful.   Out of six billion people now, and billions of people before, there is no one like you.  You’re rare.  That’s art.   All those things that make you different, make you unique.

I’m choosing to embrace what makes me different, rather than run from it.  I’m learning that there is beauty in honesty and diversity, that there is deep significance in tough questions and perplexing doubts.  And I’m learning that faith is a journey, not a sprint or an achievement.  I’m learning that struggling produces beautiful, wonderful things over time;  that Jesus really does make all things new.

I’m learning that sometimes the best place to be is on the outside.  For all those people who have changed the world over the years were different.

Be different.  Be brave.  Be you.   What’s a struggle that is currently shaping you?