For many years I’ve dreamed of being a published author. Like many, dream for a long time was write and publish books, and speak about those books, as my full time job.
And when I wrote my two encouragement books, this dream seemed to come within touching distance.
But there was a problem. What I forgot before embarking on this journey was knowing why I was even doing it. I didn’t even know who I was.
So I was in trouble right from the start.
When I began this journey, it was just a hobby. It was fun. No responsibility, nothing at stake. No pressure. But as my journey went on, as I became more ‘professional’, the fun went out of it. I lost the joy. My heart changed.
It’s in that moment you need to have your heart and above all your identity grounded in the right place. If you don’t, then it all falls apart.
And it did.
My genuine desire to create great work to help people grow, got lost in the language of tribes, platform building. As time went on my long-time insecurities tied into ambition, success and status were exposed and thrown into this mix.
And earlier this year, it dawned on me.
All this time, I’d been writing to impress.
I’d been trying to show off, to perform. I’d been writing to get heard. To be famous even. Even when I thought my heart was in the right place, I’d felt like a fake inside – for these very reasons.
And people could sense it, even if they didn’t know they could. All because my identity had been grounded in precisely the wrong place.
Once I understood this, there was only one thing to do.
Take a break. Stop blogging publicly. Step away from the public sphere. Go back to the beginning, get my heart right. For as long as it took.
So in February, that’s exactly what I did. I wrote a private blog to keep in the writing habit, and to get in touch with what was going on inside. But I didn’t share writing publicly.
I went back to basics. I read books on identity, calling and discovering your strengths. I discussed these issues with close friends, and prayed about it. And it all helped.
Writing a private blog has unlocked issues inside I didn’t even know existed. Reading these books, talking with friends, discovering my strengths, has been a revelation. It was liberating. No longer do I feel I have to prove myself to anyone, to impress, perform. I’ve realised success wasn’t the same for everyone, and I could define it for myself.
It’s About Life
I’ve made one other big discovery during this time away.
As the sabbatical has gone on, it’s dawned on me this isn’t just about my writing. It’s about my life. (you can tweet that)
God is taking me apart, stripping me down, and beginning again. Everywhere. It’s the end of one season and the transition into another, which is as yet undefined. In every area of my life, things have been changing. I’m moving jobs. I’m being confronted with a need for change in several areas, several issues, all at the same time.
I’ve been in a transition between seasons, and as this new chapter in my public writing begins today, with my first blog post for three months, I’m not sure where it’s going. I’m not sure what it will look like. And this is scary, but it’s also exciting.
As I reflect on this time, there’s four key lessons I’ve learned. Or four secrets to discovering your identity:
1) Accept that to go forward, you need to go back
If any of us wants to reach their full potential, we need to go back to the beginning, strip our lives down, and rediscover ourselves. Identity, gifts, strengths, weaknesses and purpose. So examine yourself, journal, write out your thoughts and feelings. Delve inside yourself. Read, learn about yourself.
If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have the confidence and focus I do now. No chance. To build a life of purpose, you have to begin at the foundations.
2) Our identity is bigger than our purpose, mission or achievements
This is absolutely fundamental to our growth. I didn’t get close to my potential, because my identity was tied to my achievements, my calling and my gifts. But my and your identity isn’t in any of these things.
Achievements, talents, purpose are all good. But with or without them, we already have infinite value and worth. And it’s there we must ground our identity.
3) Give this process as much time as it needs
We can’t rush this process. It has it’s own lifespan. And it’s important we allow space in our lives to experience it fully.
4) When you’re most afraid to begin again is a sign it’s time
I’m terrified of public blogging again. I know how much of a risk it is. I know I could fail. But it’s time to go back.
Because the real proof our identity no longer lies in our achievements is being willing to risk failure. (you can tweet that)
If we don’t enter into this process at any point into our lives, then our life will be full of confusion, false starts, and lack of focus. We won’t live the life we were made to, it will just be a shadow of what it could have been.
This process has changed me. I’m not desperate to be heard anymore. I’m no longer trying to prove myself or be clever. And stats are irrelevant to me now.
Instead, I’m writing from my heart. Trying to steward the gifts of both my writing and this blog, this community. And use my story and gifts to serve and bless you.
We’re all on a journey to discover our identity. Trying to find the unique story which was created for us to tell. And my hope is the lessons I’m learning from my own journey will help you on yours.
So I’m inviting you to join me as I explore these here.
Are you with me?
Some Questions To Consider:
Where is your identity grounded? In success, what you do or own, or just because you exist?
Do you know who you really are & what your calling/purpose is?
What would it/has it look like for you to go through the process I describe?
Share your answers in the comments below.
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