There's a popular song released in 2018 that churches around the world still sing with the title, "Who You say I am". It is beautiful to see millions of people singing about the amazing identity we have in God, and I'm sure this is not the first or only song about this topic. The issue with only sticking to songs for emotional/spiritual food is that many times the message fades away following the fader of the sound mixer.
We are so influenced by a culture that dictates how we need to be or look like that we quickly forget who made us and what for. We are consumed by the models of "how to live your life" that now we get on social media, but it didn't start there. Society, represented in different social structures from school to church, had always a way of letting us know an acceptable behavior for different settings and circumstances way beyond the 10 commandments. This is not necessarily wrong because it creates organization and order; however, when all those commands and rules go from ethical principals to how to say things, who can have an opinion, dress code and etiquette, examples of how/who we should look like, when to do this or that, it translates more to control than order. When we can't/don't compartmentalize all our "to do's" separating a safe place where we can not only feel ourselves with no judgement, but we also get to analyze who we are and where we are going, we get emotionally in trouble.
Throughout my life, I came across many people that lived a paralleled life in their minds through church, social groups, even just out of their own skin, building and portraying a persona they wanted to be in stead of confronting who they really were. This has nothing to do with identifying with another gender, coming out or having another family in another country kind of paralleled life. This is simpler but deeper at the same time. I'm talking about not confronting our pain, failures, habits, conditions, family drama, inherited personality traits, anything that doesn't make us happy or proud about ourselves or where we came from or things others already pointed out we deeply know it's true. I've met so many people who introduced me to a completely different person when describing themselves from when I got to know them and observe their interaction at their home. This doesn't mean we all have to reveal everything about ourselves to everyone we know. It means that we all have to reveal it and deal with it ourselves, hopefully, as much as we can with professional help. We need to be honest with ourselves and analyze our behavior, our surroundings, what makes us comfortable and what doesn't. How can I deal with what makes me uncomfortable? How can I filter uncomfortable emotions without hurting other people's fellings. I'm talking about pure honesty. We can't start building without a firm foundation. Non of us were born in our final product suit. Many people are so afraid to deal with the ashes that beauty seems impossible to reach. In some cases, our worst judge lives within ourselves. Even if we would have an exact road map of our purpose in life step by step but we don't know who lives in us that wouldn't work either.
The first time that I experienced a safe place, an angelic peace and a certainty that everything is ok, regardless of whatever circumstance I was living in, was in my teenage years, during the music part of a church service back in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Through a song I got to experience the sweet presence of God. All I did was closing my eyes (so I can focus without caring about who was watching me), lift my hands (in response of acceptance and openness) and meant the lyrics I was singing in my mind. Nothing crazy happened around me. I just followed my friend's advice of trusting those steps and enjoy. I did. The Bible calls that "worship". Not the music part of a religious service, but all of the rest, meaning your intimate conversation with God. Even though music is an amazing tool and complement to worship, we don't necessarily need it. The key part which changes things is when we mean and understand what we communicate to God and vice versa. To mean it, we have to recognize that we don't have it all together. That's the difference between getting to know God and religion. Every time we repeat phrases without even analyzing what we say it will come back empty and honestly is a waste of time. Clock in and out on Sundays to feel better about our spiritual conscience only lasts for a minute. It's like taking pain killers without actually attacking the root of the problem. A religious life is as living under someone else's control, not necessarily selfless but lifeless.
Where am I going with all this worship and safe place stuff? This is, in my humble opinion and personal experience, the most successful process of understanding who we are. Not believing in God doesn't change the fact that we are still His creation. The more we go to the beginning the more answers we'll find in the end.
Ephesians 1:4-8, 12-14
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear (respect) God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Now let's not confuse this last duty with our purpose in life. I've seen people, myself included, for a long time searching for a purpose in life. Many are still waiting for an angle to come with a scroll to read it to us so we don't have to do the thinking work. We won't find such a valuable and sensitive information using a crystal ball either. God is too creative, loving and respectful. He gave us a command and an identity; still the creative way on how to project it He left it all to us through free will. Dangerous yes, because as humans we mess up a lot! However, God created sons and daughters not slaves.
Matthew 5:14-16 says “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
As you see, our purpose is very connected with our identity. We can't guide people as the light we're suppose to be when we can't see it ourselves. How do we guide people to that secret, intimate place where they can find peace and live a life of purpose? That's where the fun begins. However you want! Make space and time in your calendar to spend in that safe place where you can analyze your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes, your talents and everything within you that God already placed in you. People who want to start a business begin with analyzing their strengths and organizing what they can do with them and how to monetize them. Don't be afraid to be creative. God's purpose for us in life was never about ourselves but how we can help each other. No lamp is better than another. It's only unique. Remember, you can't expect to build the tallest, most beautiful building without working on its foundation. It might be uncomfortable and messy but deep and strong. When that stage is done, let the fun part begin.