Who’s the real you?

phantom of the opera

She only asked a simple question: “How’s Jenna?”

But that was all it took. I’d been teetering on the edge all weekend. The tears finally spilled over.

We had been waiting on choir practice to begin. Jenna’s friend was just making conversation, knowing Jenna was headed back to Auburn soon. She couldn’t have known it was that exact hour. Nor that I’d answer her crying.

“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” she said over and over, as I tried to get words out that it was fine.

And really—it was fine. I was actually quite happy that Jenna was ready for a new semester. And even happy for Jeff and me—empty nest has its perks, after all.

The tears gave the impression I was nothing but sad. But they were misleading.

The tears were only spillover from temporary circumstances.
At the core, all was well.  

     Fears and sadness and insecurities are ever-changing. 
     Peace in Jesus is permanent. 

We often conclude the “real” us is most clearly revealed in our weakest moments. And the rest is pretend. If we’re not constantly up front about our broken spots, we’re hiding behind a mask. If we’re not sharing our darkest secrets with someone, they don’t really know us.

But I say no.

Because as new creations in Christ, those dark places DON’T show our truest selves. The scars may continue to coexist with us for a time—and new ones may even surface—but they’re only leftovers from our false self, from living in a fallen world, from time on the trail.   

     Our real selves have been healed.
     Our bodies and emotions just haven’t caught up yet.

The real us, the true us, is the home where Jesus lives. It’s the one who can cry on the outside while smiling on the inside. It’s the one so free in Christ we can hardly grasp it. Sometimes it takes more courage and authenticity to try putting that into words than it does the ugly things.

As Sunday morning passed along, the tears dried up, and I made it through our worship songs without crying. Even when our team gathered round to pray for other students going back to college, I was tearless.

I’m not saying my weepy moments are over. I do and will miss having Jenna around the house.

But I wouldn’t change the situation even if I could. I want her to experience new things on her own and grow up.

That’s part of my growing up, too.

Into the real me, the authentic me, the me who is discovering more and more who I truly am in Christ.

* * *

Do you sometimes confuse who the “real” you is?

23 thoughts on “Who’s the real you?

  1. Dianna

    Hmmm…a very enlightening post, Lisa. Thank you for putting this out there because now I have something to mull over as I go about my work today.

    ” Fears and sadness and insecurities are ever-changing.
    Peace in Jesus is permanent.” I LOVE this! Those words will be my focus for today!

    Love you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know you understand about that permanent peace that lies underneath. I appreciate how you consistently continue to share it with others in your comments and Facebook and blog and your life. It means a lot.

  2. Esther Joy

    Empty nests… Caregiving filled mine a lot. Then when the loved ones we were the caregivers for passed on, it was a different kind of empty nest. …And then God filled my nest (part time) with my grandchildren!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Isn’t it funny how God keeps refilling our nests in different ways depending on what stage of life we’re in? Unfortunately both my parents died in 2010, both needing care while I still had my youngest at home. The blessing in it was that my daughter was able to see and help also because she was still home, but I often felt torn with how to best allocate my time.

      I’m at a less hectic phase right now with my daughters both fairly independent and no grandchildren yet. But I do look forward to that phase when the time is right!

  3. Faith

    Beautiful that you share your heart here. I totally agree….sometimes it is easier to reveal our trials than our joys….but..i know way too many women who just keep so much buried…and that can stunt growth…….we need to be allowed to be vulnerable with safe, trusted friends….and yet….the best Friend we can truly be ourselves with is Jesus!! I will pray for you as you face this new empty nest thing. My oldest returns to her 3rd year of college on Saturday…..and even though I still have our 14 yr old gal at home it really is an adjustment when my oldest baby is not here. I still cry and it’s been 3 yrs!! LOL I LOVE the Peace in Jesus is permanent…AMEN!!!!! God bless you, Lisa!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, we definitely need to share ALL of ourselves with those we trust, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

      Thanks for your prayers for my empty nest. God is working through them. Once I got past Sunday, I seemed to be doing better.

      I understand about still being sad when your oldest leaves, even though it’s her 3rd year away. I think it was harder for me to adjust to my oldest being gone. My youngest is so much more into social media so even when she’s away now, we still communicate a whole lot and I usually know what’s going on with her. That helps–most of the time. 🙂

  4. floyd

    I’m revealing the “real” me more and more as I get older. I find it helps others be authentic as well. None of us are “as gods,” it’s crazy how the modern church has taught all of us to where a mask of falsehood, it’s a lie, and it bring our Father no honor.

    I completely get where you’re at. Bitter/sweet… Our youngest started tenth grade today… I know where this is headed…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The older we get, maybe the less we care what people see–or we realize they’re not really looking at us after all. ha. You come across as very authentic to me, Floyd. That blesses many.

      Hold on to your hat because these next three years with your daughter are going to fly by! Yes, bittersweet. We want them to grow up, but still….

  5. Lorretta

    I have nothing left to hide my friend and the real me is glad to meet the real you! Here from THS and well, this is my current season. I’ve homeschooled for 20 years and am down to the last one. Glad to be down to the last one, no lie. My other two are in college and the middle one is headed in for his first year. For some reason, this is hitting me hard. A good , growing up and necessary kind of hard. So. Yeah. Thanks.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I hear you, Loretta. I homeschooled for almost 20 years too. In a way I think it made it harder when my kids left because I’d been used to having them around so much.

      Then again, I was also glad to sell off my homeschooling books–I’m not going to lie either. ha. It was a great adventure and I learned a lot (even about myself) but whew, it was hard work! Praying for your adjustment to having your third child in college. Wowsa.

  6. Alecia

    Good post, and so many good things to think on.
    War Eagle! As a graduate of that fine institute myself, your daughter is in good hands! 🙂 I grew and learned so much from my time there, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      War Eagle back at you! My husband and oldest daughter also graduated from Auburn so I’ve learned to love it even though it’s not where I graduated from. I’ve spent lots of hours on the road back and forth in the past few years. It’s such a sweet little town and even though there are tons of students, the professors are very personable. Hoping for a winning football season this year. 🙂

  7. Jake

    I worry that my real self is leaking all over the place. Not in a negative way, but it’s difficult to live out a rehearsed life, choosing what people get to see and what they don’t. At times, I’m surprised at some pretty [seemingly] great stuff and others, there’s shame at my thoughts and actions. But you’re right, the real me is healed, whether or not I see it yet.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Love how you phrased this:

      “my real self is leaking all over the place”

      That’s good. I agree that it’s a much easier way to live. Even though sometimes painful as a result. But less painful that having to wear a mask. I’m all about freedom!

  8. Mia

    Dear Lisa
    An empty nest do has its joys and privileges!! I love having my boys at home, but after four or five weeks it is sooo nice to have peace and quiet and lazy evenings watching movies in the crook of my husband arm again. Lisa, your words reminded me of something very important today; our need to be totally authentic in our relationship with God. He knows it all in any case.
    Blessings XX

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Being totally authentic with God – there’s no point in being otherwise. I’m so glad that we are fully known by him. It really is a blessing to know he sees us as we are and loves us the way he made us.

      Yes, there are definitely some perks to having those quiet evenings at home. We don’t stay up near as late with no kids in the house so I’m already getting caught up more on my sleep. 🙂

  9. bluecottonmemory

    You do have to come out from behind the mask – but we have to move beyond that moment. What was behind the mask doesn’t define the authentic us – it is how we allow Him to transform us that defines who we are – I like this. really like this. You’ve given me a vision of true in-Him liberation.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Allowing him to transform us–that’s the key exactly. Sometimes it’s just not fast enough for me. I want to see results quicker, but I’m so grateful every time he lets me see another shackle fall off. “In-Him liberation” – nicely said!

  10. Dolly@Soulstops

    Dear Lisa,
    I can’t wait till our bodies and emotions catch up with our real and healed/ new self in Christ…I’m glad your friend was there for you as I can imagine it is a mixed bag of emotions with Jenna…blessings on you, friend 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I continue to have those mixed feelings with Jenna. We went to help her set up her place a little more this past weekend and it was good seeing her doing so well.

      My friend’s brother left for college this past week, so I asked her Sunday how her mom made it. She said she just bawled. ha. I told her I understood.

  11. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! I remember the clash of feelings when my kids would be heading back to college. I was so proud of them, but would miss them too. A few tears were involved!

    But that just means that I love them, and you love your Jenna too. Aren’t families just the best? Jenna is one lucky lady.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “a clash of feelings” – that describes it well, Ceil. I really am glad to see Jenna go back for all the great experiences she’ll have–and for all the great experiences WE will get to have either with her or on our own. 🙂 But I still miss her here as well. Yes, families are the best.

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