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I Wish I Were More Like Ellie

“Don’t pretend to be something that you aren’t.”

A few years ago, I met a woman I will call Ellie. She had it together. Smart, stylish, capable, and confident, Ellie is everything that I wish I could be when I grow up.

Even though Ellie and I are not close at all, we cross each other’s path from time to time. Every time it is a complete disaster.

Why? Because I admire Ellie. So much so, that whenever I get around her, I get nervous and tongue-tied. Even though I try to keep my head together, I get so intimidated that I say the stupidest things and usually make no sense. After she walks away, I realize what I said and think, “What is wrong with you? Why did you say that?”

Lest you think this is all in my mind, I can assure you I’m not the only one who has noticed this phenomenon. No, my brother has seen it happen so often that he’s given it a name. Whenever we see someone on television or in a movie get star struck and act like their mind has taken a vacation when they are around someone they admire, he’ll say, “Look ‘Des, they got ‘Ellie-d’.” (Aren’t brothers awesome?). Every time he sees me talking to Ellie, he just stands back and laughs, wondering what I’ll say to embarrass myself this time. And so the story goes.

Most of the time, I try to avoid her because it’s just easier. One time I did talk to her without saying anything dumb, and I immediately texted my friend to tell her of my accomplishment. Knowing my silly struggle, my friend was very proud. I was a little proud, too. One intelligent conversation in a decade: not too bad. (Not so great either.)

As I said, the problem isn’t with Ellie—it’s me. I just admire her so much. If I were God, I would have made me a carbon copy of her—beautiful, collected, able to have a conversation without getting tongue-tied.

However, that wasn’t God’s plan.

He didn’t think the world needed two Ellie's. He felt it needed one of her and one of me.

In my younger days, I thought that the best way I could serve God and live my best life would be to wear a giant Ellie mask and do my best Ellie impersonation. But as I’ve grown older, I've realized that this is no way to live. Instead, I need to be the unique woman that God made me to be. There may be things I can learn from Ellie or women like her, but my true calling and purpose comes from being myself.

As I talk to other women who have passed the forty-year-old milestone, this is one of the lessons I hear most. So many say, “The older I get, the more I have learned just to be who I am and not try to pretend I’m someone or something I’m not. It cannot be done.”

How I wish this truth would have settled in my heart earlier in life! Instead, I have to confess that I spent too much of my early life pretending, wearing masks, trying to be the woman I thought people would like and respect. Whenever I saw a woman I admired, I’d try to copy her. I’d dress like her, try to talk like her, and imitate how she did things. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I could never be just like her. All I could be was a cheap imitation. As we all know, it’s easy to spot a reproduction. Real value is only found in authenticity.

Eventually, one of the lessons that I had to learn was that you can not fulfill God’s plan or the purpose for your life if you are pretending to be someone or something that you are not. It’s just not possible. God created you the way that you are for a purpose. You are the way you are for a reason. No part of your personality, your abilities, your tastes, or even your physical qualities are a mistake. You are uniquely designed for a purpose.

Whenever you pretend to be something that you are not or allow yourself to become a chameleon blending into the circumstances around you, you are telling God that He did something wrong when He created you. You are also lying.

True freedom and true fulfillment come when we stop pretending, stop wearing masks, and start appreciating the way God made us. Until we do this, we are unable to fulfill the amazing plans God has for our lives. However, when we give up fighting God’s design and just go with His plan, we find that He created us exactly how we need to be to do what He has called us to do.

How do we do this?

The first thing we need to do is choose to stop wearing masks and decide to be genuine. We have to be honest about ourselves and allow people to know us.

As someone who has a lot of imperfections, I will admit that this can feel risky. I mean, what if I stop pretending and let myself be truly authentic and people don’t like me? What if I tell my story, embarrassing parts and all, and they reject me?

Here are some realizations that have helped me answer these thoughts in my life.

First, most people can see through a phony.

The odds are, if you’re not genuine, if you’re always pretending to be something you are not and putting on airs, people aren’t buying your act anyway. The fact is that most people have pretty good “imitation detectors.” Although we may not know exactly who someone really is, we can tell when someone isn’t authentic. Since you’re not fooling anyone with your act—you might as well be yourself.

I’ve observed that most people don’t want to be around people who need to act like they always have it all together. Think about it, do you?

Instead, people are drawn to genuine people. Authentic. Real. Most people don’t want you to be perfect; however, they do want you to be honest.

In my own life, I’ve observed that as I’ve learned to be genuine, be vulnerable, be open about who I am, the good, the bad, and the ugly, people liked me more. As I shared my story, even the parts filled with failure, heartache, and pain, they were able to relate. Others who have similar stories or were experiencing the same feelings began finding hope and encouragement from my openness about my mess.

Rather than people rejecting me, what I found was that the more real I was, the more others could relate. More importantly, the more I allowed myself to simply be who God created, the more He could use me to share His hope and healing with others, and the more people I could reach for Jesus.

It’s funny—-I spent so many years trying to make myself into someone else. Yet, it wasn’t until I decided to be the most honest version of myself that I was able to fulfill God’s plan for my life.

The same is true for all of us.

We can only discover our real purpose in life when we take off our masks, stop pretending to be someone else, and are bold enough to be ourselves.

It sets us free.

It sets other people free.

It allows the Holy Spirit the freedom to lead us into the unique purpose that God has for our lives.

Scriptures to Ponder:

“Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question?

Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, ‘Why did you shape me like this?’ Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans?” (Romans 9:20-21, MSG)

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:14, NLT)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b, NIV)

     Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.

When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."


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