Finding Freedom Through Your Identity in Christ
During the month of February we are praying that our kids would know their identity in Christ. We believe that this is the most important thing that our kids can know --whose they are and who they are!
We want to share some of our stories with you, so we are each sharing how finding our identities in Christ has given us freedom in certain areas in regards to how we view ourselves and our identities.
Of course, we are works in progress but we believe that our own journey to find freedom is our first priority. When we know who we are in Christ, it's easier for us to model this for our kids and remind them who they are too.
Steph-Freedom from the need to be liked
Daughter. Sister. Friend. Runner. Student. Youth Pastor. Wife. Mom.
I’ve identified as a lot of “things” over the years. As a society, we like to cling to the titles of our identities, probably because it makes us feel like we belong to something. We bring together our culture, our families, activity choices, friends, and professions into a beautiful, wonderful, one-of-a-kind combination of “me.”
Of all the titles I hold, the most important to me is Child of God. It took me years and years to accept this title as one that was given to me, not as something I earned, but as the sweetest gift. It also took me years and years to accept it as the most important.
There is a freedom in standing firm in this place. A place where the knowledge that I am chosen, forgiven, and deeply loved by God drives me to live my life the way I do.
I recently watched the Taylor Swift documentary, Miss. Americana, and I found it fascinating. We get a glimpse of Taylor's life and her journey to where she is now. Through the entire film we learn about her innate need to be liked and viewed as good and nice. It drives everything she does. The entire time I just wanted to reach through the screen, pull her into a hug, and say, "Taylor, don't you know how much God loves you?! You sing for an audience of One and He ADORES you no matter what!"
See, I have also struggled with the idea of “am I liked?” I always knew I’m loved because I grew up in a secure and loving family, I never doubted being loved, but I always wanted to be liked. Liked by teachers. Liked by the right kids at school. Do people know I’m nice? Am I too nice? If I do more stuff for people will they like me? Am I being needy? Am I being judge-y? Am I being awkard? Too outspoken? Too quiet? Do people care about what I have to say? These are things that constantly went through my head. Honestly, I still think them, but so much less than I used to.
To me, finding my identity in Christ has meant confidence in who I am. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the God who knows my heart and would stop at nothing to find me.
So, while I still have doubts about myself and still want to be liked by everyone (who doesn’t?), it doesn’t hold me back or stop me in my tracks. I’ve accepted that not everyone gets along with everyone and there will be people who I don’t mesh with. That’s okay. I can acknowledge my feelings and remind myself that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who likes me because the King of the Universe loves me and I can rest in that Truth. I can speak my mind without fearing that others will not like me for it. I also don't have to make everyone happy or even meet everyone's needs, that's not my job. I have the freedom to choose who I serve and how and I can do so joyfully.
Sarah-Freedom from the need to be perfect
I am a recovering perfectionist.
I know there are a lot of mixed reviews on the enneagram, but I am pretty confident that I am a one. Ones are the reformers--critical, perfectionistic, possessing a LOUD inner critic and having a strong fear of being bad. I have been this way for as long as I can remember.
When I was a little girl, I used to write letters to my grown up self. I would beg adult Sarah to stay a Christian and to be good. I was terrified I might grow up and walk away from Jesus.
I knew that God was loving, but I just thought perhaps He didn't love me. I thought maybe I could earn His love or find assurance of salvation if I did a lot of things for Him.
When Eric and I first starting dating in college, I really struggled with shame and condemnation when I messed up. He gave me challenge to read Psalm 139 OUT LOUD every single day for a month. This practice started changing my mind and shifting my thoughts. I read it and claimed it whether I felt it was true or not.
God used that experience and others to free in so many ways over the years, but the drive in me to be perfect and to be perceived as perfect still comes up and rears its ugly head. The biggest way I combat these feelings and tendencies is by renewing my mind. I do this by claiming scripture. I shout out what's true. For example:
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we would be called children of God, and that is what we are. -1 John 3:1
I used to do this more often and I think that's why I've been struggling lately. A speaker reminded me recently how we need to always remember we are in a battle and we need to DAILY bathe ourselves in Scripture.
Yesterday, God again reminded me of something about who I am. I believe this is for you too!
I was in the car driving alone and a JJ Heller song came on that I always sing to my daughter, Lila. It goes like this,
May you never lose the wonder in your soul (Lila)
May you always have a "blanklet" for the cold (Lila)
[I added her name in the song of course and she sings it like "blanklet" instead of blanket.]
Lila was at home really sick and I had to be away from her all day at work. I started crying because I was thinking about how much I love her and how I wished I could take away her pain. I was telling God, "my love for her feels EXCRUCIATING."
In that moment, I felt like God spoke to my heart and said, "My love for you is like that too."
I burst into tears thinking about how God loves me so much that when I hurt, He hurts. His love for me is so big, it's excruciating. When I doubt who I am or whether or not I"m loved by him, his heart breaks for me and he goes to great lengths to show me His love. When I mess up and confess my sins to Him, He is not disappointed. He is not angry. He is so glad to open up His arms to me and say, "Welcome Home. You are forgiven!"
Ugh, I can't even believe it's true. Friend, God's love for you is excruciating. He is a passionate, emotional God and He loves you more than you'll ever know. His grace is greater than we can imagine. You and I don't have to be perfect. We are being perfected in Christ. He is moving us from glory to glory, but we won't be perfectly glorious until we see Him face to face.