Our theme for the 2019-20 year, Come As You Are, speaks differently to each of us. We each hear unique calls to embrace our genuine selves, no matter what that looks or feels like. The following devotion by Shauna Niequist from Proverbs 31 Ministries gives me encouragement to continue living as a unique, valuable individual and I hope that it also encourages you to live into your one-of-a-kind God-created identity…

"God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; God does great things beyond our understanding. God says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’" Job 37:5-6 (NIV)

For a season in my life, I tried desperately to be a professional, buttoned-up, organized-type person. I wore slacks, for heaven’s sake. I white-knuckled a schedule and a set of responsibilities that felt like wearing someone else’s too-tight shoes. I’m amazed, when I look back now, how long it took me to realize I was playing a part, acting like someone different from the way God made me to be.

I’m messy and loud, a hugger and a crier. I like stories and meals and have absolutely no sense of routine. It was a gift to finally admit that I wasn’t made for that job, despite how much I wanted to be.

What would it look like for you to admit today what you are and are not made for?

I love today’s key verse, and I love the freedom and grace that flood through me when I read it. — God says to the snow, "Fall on the earth." That’s it. Just do one thing. Just fall. And then God says to the rain shower, "Be a mighty downpour." Essentially, God’s saying: Just do the thing I’ve actually created you to do. You’re rain … so rain. You’re snow … so snow.

I love the simplicity of that — the tremendous weight it takes off my shoulders. God’s asking me to be the thing God already created me to be. And God’s asking you to be the thing God already created you to be. God doesn’t tell the snow to thaw and become rain, or the rain to freeze itself into snow. God says, essentially: Do your thing. Do the thing you love to do, what you’ve been created to do.

So many of us twist ourselves up in knots trying desperately to be something or someone else. Trying to fulfill some endless list of qualities and capabilities that we think will make us feel loved or safe or happy. That’s an exhausting way to live, and I know because I’ve done it.

What is God asking you do to? What is the thing God created you to be?

Many of us, if we’re honest, have wandered far from those things. We’ve gotten wrapped up in what someone else wanted us to be, what we thought would keep us happy and safe and gain us approval. I’m finding that there’s tremendous value in traveling back to our essential selves, the loves and skills and passions God planted inside us long ago.

Think about your adolescent self, your child self, the "you" you’ve always been. God imprinted a sacred, beautiful collection of passions and capacities right onto your heart: What do you love? What does your passion bubble over for?

Much of adulthood is peeling off the layers of expectation and pressure, and protecting those precious things that lie beneath. We live in a culture that tries to define what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a success, what it means to live a valuable life. But those definitions require us to live on a treadmill, both literally and figuratively, always hustling to fit in — to be thin enough and young enough and sparkly enough, for our homes to be large and spotless, our children well-mannered and clean-faced, our dreams orderly and profitable. But that’s not life. That’s not where the fullness of joy and meaning are found.

The snow is only meant, created, commanded to fall. The rain only meant, created, commanded to pour down. You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are — weird and wonderful and imperfect and messy and lovely.

What do you need to leave behind, in order to recover that essential self that God created? What do you need to walk away from, in order to reclaim those unique parts that God designed for God’s purposes?

Dear God: Today, give me the courage to live the life that you’ve called me into with the same contentedness and confidence as the falling snow or the pouring rain. Please help me to walk away from roles and expectations that other people have for me, and to live in peace with the exact way you created me — on purpose and for a purpose. Amen.