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Identity

Identity

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to share with women something that God has recently taught me.

Through sharing this lesson that I have learned, I found that many women struggle with the same thing. Isn’t it funny how transparency always seems to lead to community?

This lesson I learned was concerning my identity. And I discovered just how much I struggled with it when I moved from New York State to East Tennessee.

I left everything I knew and had known all my life for a place I knew little about. All I knew was that my soon-to-be husband was there and loved the place. He believed I would too, and I do now. However, when I first moved there, a few short months before our wedding, I was not so crazy about it.

Mainly because it was unfamiliar. New places and faces were everywhere that I looked and for the first time I had no gage of who I was or how I was doing.

See, all my life I had had people around to tell me that. People who knew me and people whom had given me names. Some positive like beautiful, funny, sweet. Others not so positive like unintelligent, unpopular, unambitious.

But all these labels, positive or otherwise, I believed wholeheartedly. Now, as I unpacked my belongings in a new town, I heard silence where labels once were.

I sat, trying to hear even a whisper, wanting to have my always-been identity reinforced. I had known it so long that it had become home.

John worked hard to give me new labels- smart, hard-working, bold, kind, strong… but they were foreign and I ran from them.

As you read these words, your labels probably come to mind. Go ahead, list them out. What have you built your identity out of? What words have created a cage around your true identity?

As I realized how empty I felt in this new place without the things I felt defined me, I knew that my identity should be in Christ alone. I observed that it clearly was not or moving states would not have budged it.

God delicately showed me how vital it is for my identity to be rooted in the one thing that does not shift or change, that one thing is The One True God. He is the only thing that is safe to plant your feet on and root your identity in. The only thing that Does. Not. Change. (The Word of the LORD spoken by God through Malachi chapter 3, verse 6).

If we root our identity in things that do change, those things will constantly be shifting all over the place causing us to fall and slip and lose our footing constantly. We will not be able to stand firm for any length of time.

If our identity is in being a mom, once our kids grow up and leave the house, they’ll take our identity with them creating an extremely painful transition. Instead of having the freedom to celebrate a joyful stage of life and encourage our children to dream and work and soar, we will try to hold on to them, holding them back from goals and ministries and maturity.

If our identities are wrapped up in relationships, when those relationships end or weaken, so will our identities. Picking up the pieces after a breakup will feel darn near impossible because we’ve lost who we are along with the person who helped define us.

If our identities are wrapped up in our jobs if we get fired or demoted, we will feel like we are a failure and life is over instead of just a season ending.

I think that it is important to note that these last two can just as easily go the other way. If our relationships and jobs are where we find our identities and they go well, we will be completely consumed with them, making them our idols, worshiping them instead of worshiping The Holy God.

Once I identified that my identity was not built upon The Rock it wasn’t like it just changed overnight. I asked God to help me please place my identity in Him alone, and over time, He did.

The way He worked through it with me may be very different from how He works through it with you.

As I look back, I admire the incredible thoughtfulness He used as He pulled me toward Himself and away from me.

He did so by showing me a lot about my old identity. Why it was so dangerous and false and how it had no basis of truth.

He also showed me the crappy parts of not rooting my identity in Him, products of this were jealousy and coveting.

As I worked on booting out these ugly things and worked towards abiding more and more by the true Word of God, I was drawn closer to my Heavenly Father and building my house more and more on the rock side of things rather than that shifting sand. (The Gospel of Matthew chapter 7, verses 24 through 27). (Also, the letter from James chapter 1, verses 22 through 25).

I think a lot of times in the Christian community we can find ourselves using christinized language. Someone will tell you to “find your identity in Christ” but will never tell you how. Now I think that is because there is not just one fool-proof way to do it, the journey looks a little different for everyone. However, I do believe that there are a few biblical commands that help us along the way.

Loving our Neighbor and being Obedient to God’s Commands:

This is a biggie. Walking alongside one another through the mess is hugely vital. As difficult as it is, we have to be willing to bear with one another, dragging each other to the cross to show each other what God has done for us. (Paul and Timothy’s letter to the Colossians, chapter 3, verses 12 through 17).

I had Christ followers do this for me and I’ll be forever grateful. I don’t know how I would have done it without consistent love from those who loved me so well and helped break down the walls I had built around me and my false identity. But get this, most of them didn’t even know they were doing it, they were not even aware of the battle that was raging behind my walls. They just did their job and loved their neighbor and through that love and obedience to the Word of God, my faith benefited greatly and grew significantly.

Letting Go of Who We Once Were:

A lot of times, I believe we cannot walk into our new identity in Christ because we refuse to let go of our old identity in the world. Once you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, period. (Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 10, verses 9 and 10: because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.).

Being saved means you have a new heart, life is breathed into your dead corpse and God no longer sees a sinful person but rather Jesus’ righteousness in your old man’s place. (Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 6, verses 15 through 23) … yes. That is the Good News. Crazy, right?

But a lot of times we go back to that old person and try to fireman carry them with us. Their weight is a lot to bear so we have to stop a lot to catch our breath. We get tired a lot and wonder why we don’t have the energy that freedom should bring.

Love, are you dragging your old man around with you? Do you still believe the things that were true about them to be true about you? Because they are not. You are set free by God’s Perfect Lamb, the Perfect Sacrifice for our sins. You are no longer a slave to sin, to the old man, to old tendencies. You are a child of God, righteous, redeemed, LOVED.

New person.

Old person gone.

You tracking? Let them go. Their weight is too much for you to carry around. Jesus bore their weight on the cross, crucified them with Him and rose with YOU. Brand New. Alive. Beautiful YOU. Why are you digging up their bodies?? Leave them in the tomb.

Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 6, verses 3 through 11:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Lovely reader, as you go about the rest of your week, I encourage you to find time to sit down. Write down the things that you place your identity in, the things you feel define you, that you could not live without. Then, look at that list, and pray that God would help you hold each item with an open hand.

Each item except for Christ alone. Abide in Him, cling to Him, He is where your true identity lies.

Live free in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The next step after that, once your identity is rooted in The Rock, then on top of that firm foundation we discover and walk into our callings and ways to use our unique gifts and talents that God has given us. We are uniquely made individuals that have beautiful stories. However, those things need to be built upon the Rock.

So, my encouragement to you this week, and I believe God’s encouragement to you, is to let go of your old man’s identity, embrace the new, and walk into your calling.

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