Issue of Identity – Part two of Your True Selfie

Day Four

Three of my kids head back to school next week and the other two start back at college in a couple of weeks.  As I mourn the end of summer, I’m gearing up for one of my least favorite parenting duties…the seemingly endless stacks of parent forms, class fees and tuition payments.

Don’t even get me started on the cost of college textbooks. I’m incredulous that one used biology textbook that my child will use for just a few months will cost several hundreds of dollars. Really?! These are students surviving on Cup of Noodles! (And with these payments, the parents may be too :).

You discover the value of something when you know the price that was paid for it. While college textbooks may be overpriced, I still pay for them because I see the value of the end product: a college education for my kids.

God paid a high price for you and me. He gave his only Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to pay the price for our sins. The value of paying this high price is God providing a way for us to have a relationship with him.

You have incredible worth to God because of the great lengths He was willing to go and the high price He was willing to pay.

Sadly, we often don’t look to Jesus as our primary source of identity. We go searching…grasping for it in other places. Looking for that thing, that career, that relationship, that job to give us the worth our hearts are desperately longing for.

For years, I derived my worth from what I did. I lived as if my performance was what made me valuable. I would do, do, do…add, add, add wearing myself out to prove my worth and significance. When I did well, I felt good, but when I failed, I was devastated. It was like running on a treadmill – I was working hard and completely wearing myself out, but getting nowhere.

We’ve looked at how the One who created us is the One who has the right to name us. Similarly, the One who created us is the same One who should define our worth. If we’re not allowing the truth of God’s word to define us, something else will.

Three of the areas I find myself repeatedly but insufficiently looking to for affirmation and worth are:

  1. My past.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,… Philippians 3:13

Recounting past failures and disappointments with a liturgy of “if only’s” will wear you out. It is impossible to move forward if we are continually looking back. Instead, we should strain forward to what’s ahead. Your worth is not measured by your past failures, experiences, mistakes or even your past successes and achievements.

While the past makes us who we are today and teaches us valuable lessons, Paul says we are not to dwell on it. Like Paul, we need to “forget” our past and put it where it actually is – behind us if we’re to move forward into all God has for us.

  1. Other people.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.2 Corinthians 10:12

When we constantly compare ourselves with others, we’ll never be satisfied. If we compare ourselves with people who appear to be more “put together” and successful than us, we’ll feel like we’re constantly failing and falling short. And if we compare ourselves to people who seem to be worse off than us, we’ll be tempted to give in to pride and criticalness. It’s a NO-win situation!

No matter how hard we study, how diligently we work for a promotion, how many hours we spend trying to be the best wife and mom, how many diets we try, or how long we strive to be accepted, somebody will come along sooner or later that will outdo, outperform and “outlook” you.

Resist the pull to conform to be like everyone else. Your worth is not measured by your appearance, performance or the approval that other people give you.

  1. Believing lies.

… When he [the devil] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

You have an enemy that loves to whisper lies to you. And how easily we can be persuaded to believe them! It’s his native language to spew forth lies and lure us into his web of deception and confusion.

In Revelation 12:10, we see another name for the devil,

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10

The Hebrew name for satan actually means accuser! One of his primary goals is to beat you down with accusations of fear, shame, insecurity, inadequacy and failure. Satan gains power over us as we begin to listen and believe the lies that are constantly spoken to us.

At times, I have found myself investing more time into reasoning with and embracing the lies in my mind instead of replacing them with the truth of God’s word.

Such. A. Waste. Of. Time.

Slowly, I’m learning.

The apostle Paul, in Philippians, instructs us to live with a different focus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praisewor

God asks us to make a concerted effort to shift our thoughts away from that which will distract and discourage us, to that which is true, pure, right and noble.

It can be so hard, can’t it? Our mind naturally drifts towards our past, other people and lies. Suddenly we find ourselves stuck and can’t even begin to find our way out.

Like a car spinning its wheels in the mud, we expend a lot of energy yet are unable to get any traction to move forward. Moving forward requires us to embrace and focus on things that are true and then discard our old ways of thinking.

The Bible provides us with the foundation of truth on which we can firmly ground our lives. God’s Word gives us the strength and traction to move forward when we feel stuck.

My friend, you are a child of God. Your identity and worth are determined by God not by the people and circumstances surrounding you. Don’t settle for anything less.

By looking to our past we can easily become defeated, by comparing ourselves to others we can be discouraged, and by listening to the devil’s accusations we can become confused, defeated and deceived. Only by looking to Jesus, can we truly become all that God created us to be.

And as a 19th-century philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”*

Think about it…

Where are some places you go to find and measure your worth?

Which of the three pitfalls do you find yourself falling into most often? Why?

How can you begin to embed your identity in what God says about you and how He created you to live?

How can spending time in God Word increase your understanding of your identity as a child of God? How can this influence your relationships and the effect you have on those around you?

*Soren Kierkegaard, as quoted by John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997, 2002) p. 11

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Your True Selfie – The Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day Five

When our daughters were little, they loved watching the movie, Snow White. Remember how the witch would pose this question to her mirror,

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?”

Daily and with much arrogance, she would wait for and expect the affirmation of her beauty.

But one day the affirmation didn’t come.

And when the mirror candidly replied, “You, my queen, have beauty rare, but Snow White is beyond compare,” the witch’s anger, fear and insecurity manifested in a tirade of emotion as she vowed vengeance on her competition.

While the witch desperately craved the affirmation of her beauty and approval of her worth, I can’t help thinking that we, as women, are not much different.

How often do I “go to the mirror” to measure my worth? My identity? My looks? My weight? To see how my clothes fit? To stare in horror at the gray hair and wrinkles that seem to be multiplying by the day?

How often do I look to other people to build my confidence and affirm my significance? Seeking their approval, desiring their compliments?

How often do I search for value and meaning through my work? Working with messed up motives to fill some void in my life? Avoiding situations where I may fail or look bad?

How much of my life have I invested trying to secure the approval of others? Avoiding conflict, acquiescing, people pleasing because I don’t have the self-confidence to assert myself.

Ouch. Too much.

And then sometimes, when things don’t work out as I had hoped, I respond with the same childlike behavior as the witch! I become angry, and defensive, feeling rejected, anxious and discouraged.

Poor little me. *sigh*

We all have an inborn desire and need for worth and significance.

God created us that way.

We invest a lot of time taking care of the externals, but often fall short when it comes to investing in the internals – our true self. Gradually, we find ourselves sinking in the rut of not enough.

Not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not young enough, not old enough, not successful enough, not good enough, not enough as a mom, not enough as a wife, not patient enough, not kind enough…

We can fill our lives with a lot of good things – career, marriage, children, friendships and success, but none is life-giving. None will permanently fill that nagging cry for worth and significance.

None will be enough.

Read how the apostle Paul inspired the Corinthian people in their quest for worth and significance…

We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. 5 It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. 2 C

We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 NLT

Only God gives us reason to be confident. Only God qualifies us. Only God can eternally fill the void and only God can fully satisfy.

Our sufficiency is completely in Christ alone.

When we look to other people and other things to define our worth, we miss out on being able to embrace the uniqueness of who God has made us to be.

When we scramble and fill our need for worth and significance with people and our performance, we miss out on experiencing the fullness that comes from being filled with the fullness of God.

Depending on your job, husband, children, friends, success in school, or anything else for satisfaction will only leave you longing for more. There will always be someone who is more qualified, more talented, kinder, funnier, smarter, prettier . . . more perfect! Trust me, it will drive you crazy.

Your faith and hope are not anchored in your circumstances. They’re not rooted in your relationships. They’re not built on the foundation of what you can do. They’re anchored in Jesus and His power to radically transform and completely fulfill your life.

You’re invited to join me on this journey as, together, we discover our true selfie and how embracing our identity in Christ gives us the power to change the way we live.

My prayer for you is that in these upcoming devotionals, God would reaffirm his love for you, as you are right now. I hope as you meditate on the scriptures, God would reveal to you, in a greater way, how He really sees you.

Your True Selfie.

 

Take a moment to consider…

  • Can I honestly say I derive my worth completely from God? Where else do I look for my worth and significance? Why do I do that?
  • Where are you feeling “not enough” right now? How does knowing that God is enough, encourage you to live with a different perspective?

Your True Selfie – The Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day Two

My meltdown years ago on that stormy night in the snowy Nashville parking lot was not the only time I’ve struggled as a mom to grasp my identity. In the midst of a new, changing or unfamiliar seasons still, with over twenty years of motherhood and marriage, I encounter situations and circumstances that rattle me, exposing fears, insecurities and weaknesses I didn’t even know I had.

Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience when you…

  • Started a new job
  • Moved to a new city
  • Sent a child off to college
  • Walked through health issues
  • Navigated an unexpected divorce
  • Had a baby

It’s during seasons like these, I have to continually remind myself to place my worth in the right places. Not to fix my hope on things that are inconsistent, unpredictable and constantly changing.

Perhaps right now, you’re finding yourself in an unexpected place where the sand is shifting beneath your feet, things as you knew them are changing, uncertain, unstable.

Dear friend, know that there is a God who desperately loves you and has so much more for you than you could ever imagine for yourself. He created you to experience a life that is rich, purposeful and fulfilling. And He is faithful to walk you through this.

God desires to give you something better than a neat, nicely coiffed, comfortable life. He offers you something stronger to anchor your life. Something stable. Something unchanging, sustaining and incredibly fulfilling.

In the book of Ephesians, we see a man named Paul, praying for his friends in the town of Ephesus. It’s one of my favorites and it’s my prayer for you as well.

Please read Ephesians 3:14-20 NLT.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Immeasurably more… God is able to do far beyond what we can ask or think.

Every good thing that you’ve experienced so far in your life…God is able to do more.

Every difficult thing you’ve faced, God in his infinite goodness and grace can use it and redeem it for his purpose.

Every dream that you can imagine for your life…God is able to do more.

Everything that is even beyond your ability to control, comprehend, understand or imagine…God is able to do more than that too.

In fact, Paul is struggling in such a great way to describe this concept that theologian Charles Spurgeon said, Paul constructed an expression that is entirely his own—immeasurably more. No language was strong or powerful enough to fully describe what God is able to do in and through our lives.

God is able to do immeasurably more… according to His power that is at work within us. Right now. We don’t have to wait to experience this in a few years when we get our life together and our life goals mapped out.

That includes YOUR life. Regardless of what your circumstances are right now, in spite of how hopeless your circumstances seem, God is able to bring increase, healing, restoration and do more than you could ever imagine.

However, I believe we often miss the most crucial part of tapping into this immeasurably more awesomeness that God has for us.

It’s a partnership, with him!

My prayer for you as you go through these short devotionals, is that you would come to know and grasp the immensity of God’s love for you, for you to be filled with the fullness of God and that God, through His power, would do immeasurably more in your life than you could ever imagine.

And for you to have the courage to let go of the insecurities, fears, weaknesses that are holding you back and replace them with the immeasurably more presence and power of God.

Take a moment…

  • What is your current “new thing” that has unearthed insecurity or inadequacy in your life?
  • Have you experienced frustration that comes from the realization that you’re feeling a little empty on the inside? Feeling that you were made for more than you currently see?
  • For what are you grateful? Take some time to thank God for all He’s done for you and all He’s given you.
  • What are some immeasurably more things you feel God stirring in your heart?