With some years of perspective, I can pretty confidently say that I've not been myself since about early 2009. That's six years. That's a long time. Now, to say what "myself" is, is a moving target. I've changed and grown a lot in the last six years. But, while many things change, grow and evolve, the core of who a man is - or who he desires to be - does not change too much.
In early 2009 I was physically fit, a voracious learner and a confident leader. In late 2009, I relocated my whole life across the country to start the next world-changing church. That church launched in 2010. My life crashed in 2011. I left that church in 2012. That church merged with another in 2014. Not as world-changing as I had imagined.
In 2012, was a shell of who I used to be. I spent almost all of that year figuring out who I even wanted to be. In the three years since, I can see that God has not only been restoring me to who He's made me to be at my core, but He's brought about some other really positive changes, as well.
Now, in 2015, I'm back to becoming physically fit. I'm, again, learning and growing at a very steady pace. And I'm even regaining some leadership confidence. Of all the things I temporarily lost during that dark period of time, that confidence was the one I missed the most and feared I'd never regain. I'm incredibly grateful that God is restoring some of the pieces of me that I love the most.
But, not only am I seeing some of my former self restored, God has brought about some good changes in me that I didn't even know I needed. I'll list just a few:
Humility. I used to always feel like I was the smartest guy in the room. I was wrong, but that's what I thought. God used what I perceived as massive failure and several years of struggle to help me see a much more real picture of who I am. I'm grateful for that perspective and the accompanying humility.
Enjoyment. I used to be a driven guy. I wanted success. But, to be honest, I'm not sure I would have ever enjoyed "success". I really didn't enjoy anything. I just wanted to accomplish more goals. God has shown me that life is a journey, not a destination. Now, I enjoy things everyday; not the least of which are my family and my job - which I would see as a calling. Not too many years ago, I saw the job as a ladder to climb and my family as something in a different compartment that sometimes got in the way. Not anymore.
Gratefulness. I used to be thankful. Now I'm grateful. If you think there's no difference, you're wrong. I was thankful for all the blessings in my life. But, to be honest, I felt like I deserved most of them. I couldn't have been more wrong. I don't deserve a thing - except death. Gratefulness is realizing this and being thankful for that which you clearly know you don't deserve. All the things I love the most, I do not deserve.
So, why write this and share it publicly? Because I am very aware of it all this morning and I'm very grateful for every step God has lead me on. I wouldn't want to go back, but I wouldn't change a thing along the way. I hope this is encouraging to you if you're struggling to find yourself.