Who are you? Who are you supposed to be? How far apart are those two? For most, the gap would be significant – if they could see it.
I’ve always been a bit different. As an adult that’s a good thing; as a kid it was not. I spent my first eight years of school (kindergarten through 7th grade) trying to fit in – which meant trying to be what others wanted me to be, or at least what I thought they wanted. I was never very good at it, and by junior high I was the friendless kid everyone makes jokes about. Somewhere during that year I decided to stop trying to be what others wanted me to be. Given I didn’t have anything to lose, it was easy. I started doing what I liked, and being who I wanted to be. I did it for me, not expecting anyone else to care.
I understand now why my choice actually resulted in my gaining friends. There is something about someone secure in who they are – especially at an age when most are so insecure. Somehow, I managed to keep being myself, rather than giving into the pressure of those around me who I liked – and who liked me. I’ve not avoided all the traps, but I got an early start and have avoided much of the being-someone-else way of life.
I bring this up because I think most of us (all of us?) need to make this change at some point in life. We need to stop bending ourselves to the ideas and opinions of others. Stop listening to men, and hear who God wants us to be. Stop trying to please men, and focus on pleasing God. I’d even say stop trying to be who your wife wants you to be. Know being who God wants you to be will bless her, if she lets it.
In some ways it’s easier to do this as an adult. Adults understand life better, and are more self-assured than teens. In other ways, doing this, as an adult is difficult and threatening. People generally don’t like change; they’ve put you in a box and they expect you to stay there. Try to get out of the box and people will try to force you back in. If you refuse to get back in some may just walk away.
The further you are from who you were intended to be, the more likely it is you will suffer some loss as you change. Being who God intended you to be is the right thing to do, but it can be costly!
Be sure to let your bride know what’s going on. Tell her you want to be a better man, the man God called you to be. Assure her this in no way means being less of a husband to her. Because she is your wife, God expects you to be a loving husband. Becoming what He wants will not draw you away from her. God says she is part of you, and “finding yourself” His way will not change that. Talk with her as much as you can about what is going on in your head, and what you are discovering. Make her part of the process so it’s not threatening to her.
How do you find who you are supposed to be? I’d put prayer at the top of the list, and keep it a constant part of the process. Think about men you really respect – these men have touched something in you. This shows you clues. Think about directions you felt like taking but did not. Were you feeling the pull of God, but turned away because of something else? Think about what you want to leave behind – how do you want people to remember you? Then look at your life and see if what you are doing will get you there.
Finally, be gentle with yourself as you work at change. This is not easy, and you will have problems. My bride discussed this recently in her post Get Back Up!