Growing up, I used to tell so many lies about myself that I always had to try and remember who I told what so that I wouldn’t get caught. The problem with lying is that it usually always catches up to you and you end up hurting people and having to rebuild trust in people, which can take a long time. I thought I was justified in my lying and would attempt to explain my logic of why it was actually important for people to see a person I attempted to make up rather than who I really was.
I can attempt to justify my lying as an issue of detachment or abandonment by my birth mom who put me up for adoption when she was only 16-years-old. I felt for sure that people wouldn’t accept this kid who knew nothing of his “father” – the guy that raped his birth mom when she was only 15. Who would accept someone who had a story like mine? How could they understand? How could I be me if I really didn’t even know who I was? Lying to people was so much easier. They would never be “big lies” mind you. They would usually consist of things like how I had the new video game or had a big trust fund that I would be able to dip into after I went to college. Young kids have great imaginations and it seemed that mine worked overtime time and time again. As I said – lying catches up with you though and eventually I would be caught and I would lose friends, face new challenges as a loser and a loner all the while wrestling with my faith in God and my identity in this world. I can’t really justify my lying though and I have attempted over the years to rectify relationships and reconcile the truth from the lies and move on. It is a long, hard journey to go on but not working through these things would prove to be even harder. I am still working on them and still at times struggle with lying. I have gotten 1000 times better at being honest though and admitting that I am what you see before you. Take it or leave it. It has taken a long, painful process to get her but I am glad that I have made it this far.
The sad thing is when you give something up – or empty yourself of something that consumed your life – one usually fills it with something quite quick. For me, I seemed to have replaced lying with sarcasm, which I never thought would have negative consequences. I was fine being the guy who made the “off-the-wall” sarcastic statements, which usually had more truth in it than I would care to admit at times. It is a defense mechanism that I continually run to for safety and security. Sarcasm really came to me quite easily. I am good at it, which is not a boast but an honest fact I have come to discover.
I was at church the other day and a girl on our leadership team at church, called me out regarding my sarcasm. “Tim, I want you to know that I think you are way too sarcastic. It bothers me because I think you are a great guy and have a lot of potential to be used of God. I just thought you ought to know that.” Her statement echoed something to that effect and, for the first time, I was hit straight between the eyes with this fact: I am sarcastic. If there was or is a group called, “Sarcasms anonymous,” I should have signed up. “Hi. My name is Tim and I am sarcastic.” Truthfully, I was taken back by her words and was almost upset that she would have called me out like that. This girl doesn’t know me at all. Who on earth did she think she was to call me out on an issue of sarcasm? She knows nothing about my past and what I have dealt with at all. I finally went to my pastor and told him about our conversation. He just smiled and said, “Oh,” my pastor said, “I love when she does that. What an awesome gift.” In disbelief, I retold the story to him, thinking perhaps he misheard something or me but he stopped me halfway through and said, “Isn’t it a great gift? She is really good at sharing those things with people. It really is a gift.” Well I didn’t think it was a gift. I was mad. So I went home and thought about how I could respond to her the next time I saw her, which would be one week from that night – Sunday morning worship.
After thinking a bit about what my pastor said, I began to see what he was saying, though I didn’t want to admit it. The issue of identity for me is difficult. I went to counseling to talk to a specialist about it and found myself trying to be a whole bunch of different people. I didn’t even fully know who the “real” Tim really was at all. I struggled to find out where I was hiding and why I seemed to have found myself somewhere else. When I looked at myself in the mirror, the reflection I saw was not I and that was a big problem.
There is this scene I was reminded of in church the other week. It is from the movie, “Good Will Hunting.” It is that scene where Will and Sean are talking in his office. Sean (Robin Williams) says over and over again, “It’s not your fault.” At first, Will (Matt Damon) blows him off saying, “I know.” Over and over again, Robin Williams says, “It’s not your fault.” Eventually Will embraces Sean and cries. It is a powerful scene. When I watch that scene, I see a man who has been freed and is able to see who he really is. For Will Hunting, it was not his fault. For me, well, that’s another can of worms. For me, I had to come to the realization that I could not change the past. I was the result of a rape and I can’t change that part of who I am. I need to embrace it and allow that to be apart of my story. I don’t have to dwell on it or feel as though people wouldn’t understand. I needed to embrace it. That is something I have been working on now for the past couple of years. It really isn’t easy but I am working on it.
The most important thing I am continually learning is that my identity is found in Christ, as a child of God. I have been bought with a price and know that His blood covers a multitude of sins. Before I was born, I was in the mind of God. The Scriptures says that He knew me before the foundations of the world – before the world was made. If that is the case, and I truly believe that, then I must have been in the mind of God from the beginning. And, for whatever reason that has yet to be fully seen, He has trusted me with a very unique and painful story. What man had intended for evil – the raping of a teenage girl, God intended for good – what I do with the life I have now and how I choose to walk with Him. It isn’t an easy story to embrace but it is my story. I think maybe that is the biggest goal of my life – to embrace the story I have been given and perhaps it will encourage other people to do the same. We all have this story to embrace. The question is: Are we willing to embrace the story God has given us to embrace? Through embracing our stories, I think we can learn who we are and allow that part of our story to shape and mold our future actions and deeds. Then when we look in the mirror we will see ourselves as we truly are. We won’t be confused by the reflections we see looking back at us. Perhaps we wouldn’t have to be so sarcastic or lie all the time either. Perhaps we can be ourselves.