The Real Me

“We all wear masks, metaphorically speaking.” says Ben Stein in the movie – ‘The Mask’ (mocked ever so appropriately by Jim Carrey moments later) One of my favorite movies growing up. That line has stuck with me. Not only because I have an uncanny ability to memorize movie quotes and song lyrics (ask any close friends or family members), but also because it’s true. I feel strongly confident that I’m not the only person who doesn’t fully disclose who they are, in fear of being ‘the nail that sticks out’. I think a series of things has brought me to write a quick post on this topic. First, let me ask: Do any of you ever sit and think about your life in a timeline format? If you don’t, I think you should. It’s a good way for you to see if you’ve improved in areas, or are still in a spot or situation that you wish you weren’t, or shouldn’t be in. It also allows you to see how God has blessed you, and also what He’s taken away and why. We are all unique creations made by God Himself and yet inevitably, it seems, we become a by-product  of situations we go through and people we interact with. The old saying: ‘You become the company you keep’ comes to mind.

Not to dwell on darker times, but it seems that true character is formed when we go through the biggest storms in our lives. Anyone who has experienced personal loss knows this all too well. I’m not going to go into great detail in my own personal life lessons, but I have experienced a vast array of stormy trials in my short 26 years on Earth. I’m not saying I’ve had more than anyone else, just that I have scars. And of course, ‘scars remind us that the past is real’. (a tweaked line taken from a Papa Roach song -‘Scars’…told you I’m a lyric freak)

The thing I am struggling with, is how much of who I am, is what has happened to me in the past, and how much is engrained in my DNA from my conception? How much of ‘me’ is parts of other people who have rubbed off on me, and how much is ‘me’? How much should I celebrate that God made me unique from anyone else, and how much should I yearn to mold myself after men who have greatly succeeded using their own methods. On one hand, there are people who are so free-spirited that they never listen to reason or yield to any wisdom given from others; and on the other hand, there are the people who are so terrified to be themselves that they never truly live. They become ‘yes men’ or ‘yes women’. The creative parts of their brains slowly melt away like a sandcastle being slowly eaten away by waves from the ocean…leaving mere ruins of what used to be something pristine and unadulterated. I’m not so sure some people even know who they are or what they are capable of. Sometimes…I’m afraid I fall into that category.

You know what it is?…..I think it’s all this time I spend riding my bike here in Japan. I have logged countless miles, so far, from where I live, to the stadium, and then to the radio station and then back to my place. I get into my own head. I start to actually think about serious questions as I’m weaving through the masses (several times in pouring rain). The ‘who am I?’ and ‘what am I doing here?’ questions. One time I intentionally retraced my mindset and worldview from elementary school until now. Now, granted, it was an overview and in no way was in-depth at all…but it is interesting, nonetheless, to see how the creativity of a youth can be slowly stripped over time. 3rd grade Thomas is not 26 year old Thomas. I firmly believe that this whole debate going on in my head is because hosting a radio show in Japan is forcing me to use creative parts of my brain…parts of my brain that have been dying a slow death since I was in school. Now, I’ve always considered myself to be creative, spontaneous, and somewhat free-spirited, but to be completely honest, being given complete creative freedom for my radio show is freaking me out. It means, in my estimation, that the success or failure is up to how much I put into the show. I’m absolutely sure that there are more variables than that, but you get my point. It’s not a ‘show up, punch the clock’ kind of job, and it’s making my heart beat faster. Scary, but I like it. 🙂

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My mind is in a thousand different places over here in Japan. I took one of the biggest gambles I’ve ever made in my life to come here. I sold/gave away/boxed up my things, and I told the best friends and family any guy could ask for ‘goodbye’ for a year. There are times over here, where I have no idea why I’m here…and yet there are those ‘aha’ moments when amazing things happen, and it’s almost as if God is winking at me, and saying ‘Trust Me!’ I just want to make sure that I don’t miss any opportunity or fail to learn lessons during this season of my life.

My mission in writing this post, and really for my blog as a whole, is to inspire. I want to inspire the readers of this post, whoever you are, to shine like God meant for you to shine and to embrace being unique. Am I saying that I shine all the time? Absolutely not. Maybe I’m writing this to inspire myself. If we aren’t shining like God meant for us to, what are we doing? If people don’t see something different in us, then how are we being ambassadors for Christ? God created us all unique (Psalm 139:13-16) and yearns for us to reflect His light (Eph 5:13-14). One of the best things about the Gospel is Jesus has already done everything for us. A pastor I follow on Twitter (@PastorTullian) tweeted this a while back:  ‘Jesus fulfilled all of God’s holy conditions on our behalf so that our relationship to God could be unconditional.’ We are free, as Christians, to be who God created us to be in Him. Not to wear a mask. Not to live in fear. Not setting up camp in safety and comfort, but rather to live freely in His grace and enjoy who He created us to be to more fully display our Maker to people who do not know Him.

I hope this post has made sense. I hope that if you have feedback, that you’ll share it, and I hope that someone out there was inspired to be themselves and to NOT live in fear. If you feel led to, take a jump from the ordinary path set before you by someone else, and rest in the fact that there is nowhere you can go where God will not take you by the hand through the most amazing journey of your life. (Isaiah 41:13) Be watchful for the doors that God opens for amazing opportunities, and take your mask off! 🙂


4 Comments on “The Real Me”

  1. Linda Munden says:

    It’s an honor to know 26 year old Thomas, although 3rd grade Thomas was a pleasure as well! Keep searching, keep growing, keep seeking!

  2. Peggy says:

    Wonderful post Tom…..and even at my advanced age, I still ask myself some of those same questions….am I living up to my potential?……or am I just ‘going with the flow’ and not using my God given talents.

  3. clancyjane says:

    A pleasure to read, Thomas.

    I’m with Frankl. He believed we don’t invent our meaning and purpose so much as we “detect” it. Your self-exploration suggests you are well on your way.

  4. It can be so easy to live the day-to-day life of work, school, parenting, etc. and forget that God has so much for us and that our potential is great Hhe has so much in store for us if we just pay attention and listen. Thanks for the encouragement in this post, Thomas.

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