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?

How I Almost Ruined Thanksgiving Dinner

 

I love Thanksgiving! It’s the one day of the year where family and friends gather and share an abundant meal, eat to our heart’s content and give thanks for all that God has done and continues to do in our lives.

It truly is the best kickoff to the most wonderful time of year. It’s a day to reflect on God’s goodness, to enjoy the special relationships in our lives and celebrate God’s continued faithfulness. It’s a day to watch football games and parades, and a day to cook and create a wonderful meal for those whom I love the most.

While I’m no Pioneer Woman, I enjoy investing a lot of thought and time into preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Gathering my favorite recipes, compiling the grocery list, shopping and cooking usually begin several days before Thanksgiving.

Last year, was no exception. Jessica, my youngest, and I got up early and began the preparations. We recorded Macy’s parade to watch later in the day because my boys were adamant that a football game – not a parade – should be watched live.

Several hours later as the smell of turkey wafted in the air, Jessie and I sat down to enjoy the parade while Gregg and the boys headed to the beach for a quick surf session. Before engrossing myself in the holiday floats, high school bands and the Radio City Rockettes, I thought I had better check on the turkey and baste it one more time.

However as I attempted to open the oven door, it wouldn’t open. The door was stuck, trapping my turkey inside!

On Thanksgiving!

Really?!

You have GOT. TO. BE. KIDDING ME!

Why couldn’t this have happened while I was reheating Bagel Bites like on any other night? This is Thanksgiving! The Super Bowl of all meals!

Seriously, the door was only opening about six inches.

Somehow, the latch at the base of the oven door had broken, jamming the door and preventing it from opening. We tried EVERYTHING! Pounding it. Prying it. Shaking it. Kicking it. Skyping in family members for advice.

Nothing worked.

So there my turkey sat, in my oven, fully cooked, with no way of escape.

My Thanksgiving dinner was on the verge of disaster and as my attempts to liberate my turkey proved futile, the excitement of family gathering together around our table shifted to worry, anxiety and visions of eating at Zippy’s.

After about 45 minutes, we decided to break the oven door, bending and prying it open about 12 inches – just enough space for Gregg to spear the turkey with two roasting forks and squeeze the bird through the opening and onto the platter. Crisis averted (as long as it’s fully cooked).

Ironically, throughout the week I had been meditating on Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians,

dont-worry-about-anything-instead-pray-about-everything-tell-god-what-you-need-and-thank-him-for-all-he-has-done-7-then-you-will-experience-gods-peace-which-exceeds-anything-we

Ouch! My joy and peace can be sooo circumstantial. How quickly I can allow something as silly as an oven door not opening to steal my peace and take my focus off of the important things. Opening the door to worry, I let can little distractions begin to consume my thoughts. First world problems, right?

Paul’s source of joy as he wrote this letter to the Philippians was in the midst of really difficult circumstances. He was in prison with no resolution in sight. Yet here he is telling them to not worry, pray and be thankful – as a man who had been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, starving. OK, I’m now thoroughly convicted.

Paul could challenge them in this way because he had experienced God’s presence. He had a relationship with Jesus; he had seen people healed and delivered. He had confidence in a good God and knew that He was faithful (Psalm 100).

Paul wasn’t advocating positive thinking, or a “glass half-full” perspective. His confidence was rooted in a deep assurance that God is in control – regardless of his present circumstances. Paul encouraged the Philippian people that they didn’t have to live in fear, worry or anxiety anymore because the One True God, Jesus, is in control of everything and intimately concerned with every detail of their lives – even a turkey trapped in an oven.

You can approach God and know that He is intimately involved in your life. Even when troubles and difficulties arise, He will be with you to lead you through them. My hope is that I will grow in my ability to pray, give thanks and notice the shards of hope in the difficult places and unlikely circumstances. I want to be able to respond as Paul did…

Pray about everything…

I once heard it said this way: worry assumes that we are in control; prayer asks God to be in control. The causes and opportunities for our worry will never go away. While our natural reaction may be to control our circumstances or fix our problems, God asks us to surrender them to Him.

Tell God what you need…

There are legitimate needs and causes to worry. The benefit of talking to God about them is that while we do, we discover that the God who is everywhere and in control of everything, becomes real to us in ways that we wouldn’t experience otherwise. In our cries to him, we feel his comfort. In our pain and anxiety, we feel his presence and we get to know him and discover his character.

Thank him for all he has done…

Thank him for all the little amazing miracles He does every day all around you.

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

We liberated our turkey, (and it was delicious by the way) but broke our oven in the process. I almost ruined thanksgiving – not because I wrecked the turkey, but I almost allowed the pressure and stress of creating the perfect Thanksgiving meal to usurp the true intention of the day – a day of thanks for God’s abundant blessing in the midst of life’s imperfection.

As we enter the most wonderful time of year and begin to journey through the holiday season, my prayer is that you would remember these words from Paul and take time to thank God for the simple things around you – even an oven door that opens.

 

 

How to Ruin a Really Good Day

With every passing minute, my neck muscles tightened and my blood pressure climbed. Everyone else was enjoying themselves, but I was becoming increasingly more impatient and irritable. The bad odor wafting in the air? That would be my stinky attitude.

The day started with great promise. I wasn’t expecting much – a relaxing beach day with my family. Was that too much to ask?

The problem was everyone else had the same idea! Traffic was horrendous, parking a nightmare, and the beach was crammed with people jockeying to make my space their space.

“Maybe spreading out my chairs and stuff would create some breathing room?”

Didn’t work. People traipsed over my stuff tossing sand in my food leaving my snacks with a crunchy, grainy texture.

“Ugh. Don’t people respect personal space anymore?!”

My family wasn’t bothered by the inconvenience. Nope. They were having a grand time smiling, surfing and splashing in the waves while I was forgotten, left to fume and fight for a sliver of space on a beach becoming more congested by the minute.

To make my experience even more uncomfortable, a bird conveniently dropped a big blob of poop on me!

You don’t have to say it. I know what you’re thinking, “Poor…little…me.” Ahem.

As I sat there huffing, complaining, grumbling to the brink of almost-ready-to-cry frustration, I decided reading a book might help.

The book I grabbed just happened to be on evangelism.

Oh, the irony.

Like a pressure valve releasing steam, immediately the presence of God began to diffuse my irritability while also convicting my heart.

My contingency for enjoying the day had been all about my happiness, my space, my time, my convenience.

Me…ME…MEEEE!

Friends, allow me to share a little secret with you –

a me-centered life will lead to misery.

A full life is experienced when we extend our life to others, not shrink into solitude.

When my eyes focus outward and my heart opens to be used by God, I’m able to see the world through a completely different lens – one that places a premium on people, seeing them not as bothersome, but with the care and compassion of Jesus.

ON POINT

When Jesus encountered people, He saw an invitation to make an impact, not an inconvenience to his schedule.

Jesus didn’t withdraw from crowds; He drew near to them.

Crowds of people didn’t frustrate Jesus; He emanated compassion – a deep sympathy for their brokenness and compelling desire to alleviate their suffering.

With compassion, your me-centered day becomes others-oriented, full of potential with hope that God would use you to enfold his hurting children with the love of Jesus.

That day, God broke my heart afresh for his hurting children. He reminded me of people’s great worth and the price He paid for them.

Investing my life there will make for a really great day.