You know how it is when someone catches you offguard with a question. You have to think about it for a while before you can come up with the appropriate response. That happened to me this week when someone asked me what is different about me. What has changed in my life? I wasn't sure of the answer. After all, I see myself as a completely different person now compared to who I was just ten or fifteen years ago.
In a sense, I think everything about me changed when I was transformed by God's grace. But, since my friend was asking an honest question, I wanted to give him a satisfactory answer. Then the obvious answer hit me: I had a core change - who I am is different. That's the answer: my identity has changed - well, at least the source of my identity has changed.
See, the old Tony (did you know him?) found his identity in the approval of people around him. He always tried to please, gave you the answer you wanted to hear, and put on a good face. He filled any vacancy, always said yes, never turned you down, and was the first to arrive and last to leave all in hopes that everyone would like him. To him, compliments, flattery and appreciation were all the same, and he diligently took them to heart. Any frown or criticism, lack of attention or gratitude he saw as disapproval, and he diligently took those to heart too.
The old Tony created his very character and identity based on how he perceived others viewed him. He was easy to like, because he would rarely disappoint you or make you mad. That was the old Tony. The difference now is that "old things have passed away, and all things have been made new." What appears different on the outside may be that I no longer care about someone else's opinion of me. I don't feel I need a pat on the back to validate my existence. You may not like the new me that will turn you down in a heartbeat if what you're asking takes me away from my purpose, encroaches on my personal time or space, or is just something I don't want to do.
You may be asking, "Is this a good thing?"
Absolutely! I assure you that I still want you to like me, and I don't want to treat anyone rudely. The difference is that I have found my true identity in who God says I am. He created me, He should know. He did not create me a jack-of-all-trades. He gave me specific purpose and direction. I am determined to stay on course and avoid distractions as much as possible.
What about you? Are you on course? Do you find yourself looking to others for validation? Maybe it's time to look to your Creator instead. What destiny has He put in front of you? Are you running after it? I promise you that there is freedom in following Jesus rather than man. It's a goal worth pursuing and a life worth living. And I suspect much more than your hairstyle will change!