An Issue​ of Identity – Part Two of Your True Selfie

Day One

Our first home! We had skimped, saved and shifted money around to make it happen.

Even more exciting – this home was brand new. I was able to pick the carpet, paint, light fixtures – everything! (At least everything that I could squeeze into our starter home, small budget.)

But it was going to be ours.

Nearly every day, we visited our soon-to-be-home. We walked on the foundation slab; we wrote scriptures on the wall frames. We discussed, deliberated and debated over countertops, carpet and colors.

It was almost finished. The builders just needed to add the final touches, install the lights and hang the doors on the bedrooms.

As we walked through our future home, dreaming of the family memories we would someday make within these walls, we noticed that one of the bedroom doors wouldn’t completely shut.

We pulled and pushed, jimmied and jammed, but it

just.   wouldn’t.  budge.

Gregg called the contractor and told him our dilemma. To which the contractor replied, “It’s fine. Don’t worry.”

Really?

Not one to let something like this slide, Gregg kindly countered, “I don’t think the wall is straight.”

I don’t think contractors like to have their work criticized and called into question.

The contractor pushed back, hauling out some of his fancy tools to prove the straightness of his structure. The quality of his construction.

Gregg pressed a little more, “Try another wall.”

Gregg and the contractor proceeded to walk through the house going wall to wall in search of the faulty area, which eventually led them outside of our house.

Our brick house.

Turns out, the foundation was slightly off, so when they erected the brick exterior, one portion of the brick exterior was also off. This slight miscalculation threw off the integrity of the whole house.

If you’ve spent any time watching HGTV you understand the dangers that lie in building upon a faulty foundation.

I’ve witnessed Chip break the news to Joanna about dangers he discovered beneath hardwood and drywall.

I’ve watched the Property Brothers renovation budget blown to bits from an unexpected find in the foundation.

They had to fix it.

So they went to work…tearing down brick and rebuilding the wall to code. (I must add that because this was a super simple starter home on a very small budget, the company did just enough to get it to code. They didn’t tear the whole side of the house down and actually repair the foundation.)

My point in sharing this story with you is…

Sometimes, if we’re really honest with ourselves, isn’t this how we live?

How we attempt to navigate life?

Doing just enough to keep our lives afloat.

Just enough to look good so no one sees our pain.

Just enough to get by.

We adjust, adapt, patch, paint, coat and cover the cracks and misalignments in our soul.

But, the problem in doing this, it doesn’t deny the reality:

If the foundation is faulty, the stability of the whole structure is compromised. 

This foundation is your identity.

And one day, with just a little extra pressure on an unexpected area, the weak area will cave and reveal the fractures and fissures as life as you know it comes tumbling down.

Your identity will drive how you live. A broken identity will negatively affect your whole life. It will affect your relationship with God and how you interact with others.

And unless you do the hard work of tearing apart what’s broken, you can’t move forward to live the life God intended you to live.

If your identity is broken, your life is broken.

A broken identity will…

  • Steal your confidence,
  • Destroy your self-worth
  • Hinder your ability to make decisions
  • Keep you from moving forward to fulfill the life God created you to live.

What are some of the things you cling to as an essential part of your identity? If someone asked you to describe yourself, what would you say? How would you respond?

Through the years, I have described myself as Gregg’s wife, Jim and Linda’s daughter, Jennifer’s sister, a student, a campus missionary, a pastor’s wife, and Rebecca, Brandon, Justin, Jordan and Jessica’s mother.

In 1 John 3:1, John is encouraging Christ followers to see themselves in a different light.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1

You are a child of God. Lavished in great love by a good Father.

That is who you are and how God sees you.

You are not identified by what people say about you. You are not defined by your accomplishments or the people you associate with. You are not, “a failure”, “hopeless”, “ugly”, “ordinary”, “stupid”, “fat”, “dysfunctional”…

You get the picture?

Many of us spend far too much time looking at what we once were, thinking about what we are and dreaming about what we wish we could be. Allowing the memories of our past to haunt us like disturbing video clips from a horror movie.

My friend, that’s building on a faulty foundation.

But what if we invested this same amount of time and energy to becoming the person God desires for us to be? Building on the foundation of who He says we are?

God has a high calling on your life. He takes great pleasure in using ordinary, average people to do amazing things. He sees the incredible value, worth and potential in YOU!

He desires for you to become everything He created you to be, which may involve tearing down some walls—habits, attitudes and ways of thinking—and that may be a little scary at first.

But in the end, your identity will be built on a solid, unshakeable foundation that will endure the test of time.

And that is completely worth the work and mess of the renovation.

 

Questions

  1. Do you see yourself as a child of God? Why or why not?
  2. How have you seen a broken identity affect your life?
  3. If someone asked you to describe yourself, how would you respond? What would you say?
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Your True Selfie – the Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day Four

When I’m tired, stressed, hungry (or Lord forbid, a combination of all three) the road to crazy is a short one for me. I find myself becoming less patient, complaining more, and increasingly frustrated. Instead of seeing my life clearly and through a grateful, hope-filled lens, all I can see are the problems I’m facing and my insufficiency to solve them.

Perhaps this is what happened to the Israelites when we find them in Numbers 11?

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord… Numbers 11:1a

Life in the wilderness was hard. It was hot. They were tired. They missed their comfy bed and favorite food. They were thirsty. And why did God choose this guy, Moses, to be their leader anyway?

Now keep in mind, this was only THREE days into their march towards the Promised Land. THREE DAYS, PEOPLE!

In the year since the Israelites had left Egypt, the Israelites had seen and experienced God’s dramatic deliverance (Exodus 14). They had received his miraculous provision of manna (Exodus 16). God had given them water from a rock (Exodus 17), and if that wasn’t sufficient to bolster their faith, they witnessed his presence on a daily basis leading them in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Numbers 10).

Wasn’t that enough to keep the pep in their step and hope in their heart? Wasn’t their freedom enough to fuel their faith to find joy in their journey?

Apparently not.

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6

Did they forget what life was like for them in Egypt? It’s not like they were livin’ the easy life in their beach-front property, with a fully stocked fridge and a Starbucks on every corner!

Did they forget they were slaves in Egypt? Didn’t they remember how hard they worked laboring day and night? Did they fail to remember what their former leader, Pharaoh, was like? 

It’s easy to allow our perspective to become clouded, isn’t it? Like a dull film that settles my contact, I, too, find myself navigating with compromised vision, forgetting the many good things God has given me.

Maybe you can identify. My days are probably a lot like yours—working, taking care of my kids, making meals, cleaning house, doing laundry, helping kids with homework, driving back and forth between school and sporting events.

When this cycle repeats and continues for too long, I can easily lose sight of the bigger picture. Slowly, my energetic, faith-infused, hope-filled heart wanes and my outlook on life begins to seem so . . . blah.

Usually, about that point, I’ll go on Facebook or Instagram and all of my feelings are confirmed – I’m reminded of how ordinary my life is compared to everyone else’s.

And subtlety, I find myself spiraling into a cycle of complaining. Poor me.

I hate to admit it and I get really good at justifying it, making excuses for it, minimizing it. But look at how God responds to the Israelites complaining.

…and when he [the Lord] heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. Numbers 11:1b

Yikes. That’s pretty serious stuff.

God heard their complaints and He wasn’t very happy about it. In fact, this verse tells us that God was so angry that He sent fire among them that consumed some of them.

Isn’t that a little extreme? Or as my kids would say, “extra”?

But it’s worth considering that if God’s anger was aroused when the Israelites complained, how would he respond to me? To my grumbling, my complaining, my lack of gratitude?

You see, when we respond to God’s work in our life with a complaining attitude, we’re actually intimating that what God has given us is insufficient. His provision is not good enough.

Like a toddler throwing a tantrum, we demand something more, something different, something we feel we deserve and our whining and stomping calls into question God’s provision.

And God hates it.

What if we learned to pause more? To express gratitude? To show gratefulness. To thank God for creating me and making me just as I am. With all of my flaws and inconsistencies.

I believe that’s the path to experiencing the deep contentment and peace of God in my soul. That’s the first step for us to take to embrace our true selfie. 

When we learn to express gratitude for the little things, the little things don’t seem so ordinary anymore. They’re seen as gifts given to us by a good and gracious Father.

And then something even crazier begins to happen. Our heart begins to change. Our perspective begins to change. We walk lighter and freer because we’re not looking around at all of the things we wish we had or things want to change or the things we don’t like about ourselves.

We’re content.

Even in the hot, dry desert. Even when we’re tired. Even when our life doesn’t make sense and things are working out as we hoped or planned.

We’re content because our focus has shifted from inward at our lack, outward to the greatness and goodness of God.

Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God_s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5_16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

While everything around us screams to get our “outside life” together. God desires to do a much deeper work – one that works from the inside out. And it starts by thanking God for making you just the way you are.

Take a moment to consider…

  • What is one thing you like about yourself?
  • How have you seen complaining negatively affect your life and cloud your perspective and your ability to be grateful?
  • How could focusing on God’s love and goodness speak life into your soul and recharge you?

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

Day One

Our family had just completed our cross-country move from Los Angeles, California to Nashville, Tennessee, driving through rain, sleet and snow with five children under ten years old, a packed minivan and pet bunny. Whew!

After one month on the road, eating way too much fast food and living out of various hotels, everyone in the family (including the bunny) had frazzled nerves, testy tempers and fragile emotions.

To escape the cramped quarters of our hotel room (yes, ALL seven of us were staying in ONE room), one night we thought we’d head out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. Why we dared to venture to a semi-nice restaurant at this point of the trip, I have no idea – we were clearly borderline delirious.

Your family has probably never had this kind of experience, but at the risk of being vulnerable – my pain will now become your pain.

Our three boys conveniently chose to expend an entire month’s worth of energy during this one-hour restaurant break, making LOTS of noise, bouncing up and down in the restaurant booth, wrestling, arguing… you get the picture. As I was getting the “stink eye” from the other restaurant patrons, our one-year-old daughter conveniently chose to this moment to produce her own “stink” in the form of a toxic poopy diaper.

Yes, we were THAT family.

On the verge of tears, I ventured out to the bitter cold to scrounge the floor of our minivan hoping to find a diaper hidden amidst piles of toys, luggage, and fast-food trash. My husband, Gregg, in an exasperated tone, handed me the keys told me,

“If you don’t come back, I understand.”

We laugh about it now, but at the moment, we were second-guessing our decision to uproot our family from a comfortable house, stable job and close friends to venture into this unknown territory of big belt buckles and country music.

This wasn’t what we had signed up for. The picture didn’t look as glamorous as we thought it would. In fact, it didn’t look appealing at all.

It would have been easy to give up, turn around and go back to what was familiar.

This was difficult.

Tiring.

Painful.

Lonely.

Uncomfortable.

As a little girl, I remember having lofty aspirations and dreams of what I would someday become. I had big plans to change the world and high hopes for what God would someday use me to accomplish.

Yet, that stormy night, I unexpectedly found myself in the middle of a snowy parking lot in an unfamiliar town, searching through my incredibly messy minivan for a clean diaper while my other four kids wreaked havoc in a neighborhood restaurant.

Did God forget that I have a college education?

What happened to my plans to be different, my aspirations to make a difference? Where did the passion and determination that I could do or become anything go?” What happened to this wonderful plan God had for my life?

Perhaps you can relate. Have you ever felt sidelined, left out or overlooked by God, wondering what you have to contribute? Feeling stuck? Thinking maybe you missed your opportunity to make a difference? Or perhaps you feel your mistakes disqualified God from using you?

You’re not alone in your thoughts. In fact, throughout scriptures, we see many sincere God-followers ask the same questions. Read the love and tenderness God expresses to his children through the prophet Isaiah…

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:14-16

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands... Isaiah 49_16

As God tenderly reassures the nation of Israel, God persistently affirms his love towards us, gently, continually reminding us of his care and faithfulness. Prodding us to look to him.

God has not forgotten you. He created you, knows you intimately and has a great plan for your life – one that will bring glory to his name. As you seek him and allow your life to be shaped by him in an increasingly greater way, He will lead you.

Things may not always turn out the way you expected, and you may find yourself trapped in a restaurant during a winter storm with energetic toddlers, but you can trust that He is good and He hasn’t forgotten you.

Take a moment…

  • When have you experienced a season when you felt a little empty on the inside? Feeling that you were made for more than you’re currently experiencing?
  • What does this verse say about God and your incredible value to Him? How can knowing and meditating on the fact that God loves you and never forgets you breathe hope into your weary soul?