Finding Our Identity

The 16 Year Old Me

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Life is a journey

I’m often surprised in life with how things happen in ways that I never expected. For most of my life I have been a planner. In fact, by the time I was 16, I had my whole life planned out. I wonder how many of us do that? In Sunday school this week our Senior High students got to finish up a series on Godly Career Development with a panel of church members. Listening to them share their stories, I found myself chuckling at the way we, as people, try to figure our whole lives out when God has other plans for us. None of them had their lives turn out as they has planned as teenagers. It made me think about a recent visit at my parent’s house.

For Christmas we stayed a couple of days with my parents. We were reminiscing about Christmases gone by and how the years go by so fast. My dad was talking about how I am still his “little girl” when I now have two adult children of my own. He talked about his childhood and things he had hoped for and how happy he was to have grandkids. He told me he was proud of my husband and I for how we had raised our kids and thought we had done a good job. It was a wonderful time of fellowship for our family and got me to thinking about how all of the good things in my life are because of The Lord.

In that moment, I thought about my past plans and things I had strived for. The things that I had tried to make happen. I thought of the things I had done wrong and the things I had done right. I thought about how I had my life planned out at 16, leaving little room for God to make changes. I wondered what the 16 year old me would think if she could see her life now. I imagine she would be scared, happy and have her little mind blown.  Some of things she planned did happen. I have a great husband, children and a strong walk with the Lord, however, I don’t think any of it happened the way she thought it would. I think she would be very surprised at how it is all better than she could have ever imagined. As I thought about the 16 year old me, and who I am today, I was left mostly in awe of how God’s plans are always the best. Because all the things I have done right are really the times that I listened to the Lord, trusted him, and let him lead the way. And the things that I had done wrong, well, He has come in and cleaned up my mess. If I could go back and talk to the 16 year old me, I would tell her to trust more in God’s plan and His goodness. I would tell her how much she needs Him in her life. I would tell her that His plans are always the best ones and if she thinks her plans are better she is sadly mistaken. Because I have had the chance to walk in my own plans and have been left to my own devices. That woman, that person, is not a pretty one. She is a mess. But with God, she can be pretty amazing. Because everything I have I owe to Him, everything I am I owe to Him, and everything I want to be in the future I give to Him, because He is trustworthy. In this life I have learned what a mess I am without Christ, but how with Him I can be used in great ways, as a wife, as a mom, as a friend, and as the Lords hands and feet. Pretty amazing that God wants to use us no matter how small we are, no matter how selfish we have been, and no matter what we have done.

So I guess I am left with telling the present day me to, trust God. Trust in His plans and in His goodness. Trust that He has a perfect plan and that He already has all the answers. Know that He loves more than can be measured and holds all things in His hands. Yes, that is what I would tell myself and it’s what I am telling you. Be Blessed my friends.

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A “Godless” Generation

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Wow. This is thought provoking. In our lives, what are we building? Are we building a life on heart or rules? Are we building a life in Christ that says “I want what they’ve got?” Are we building in our own strength or in His? Are we trying to be enough for the next generation when we should be poining to Christ? Lord helps us to not be blind to your ways. Help us to have Authentic, Interactive Love for others. Especially for our children. Start with me Lord. Be Blessed my friends.

Identity Crisis: True Identity

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It’s been a little while, but today we finish up the identity series. Last time I shared my story and how this is still a journey for me. I shared that I had reached a point of needing something to change and asking “where do I go from here?”

I think many of us reach this point. Where do we go from here? Well, we can continue with more of the same or look to God for answers. I did the latter and after many years have come to realize how important it is to know who God created us to be. As people and as the body of Christ, we really need to know who he designed us to be.

-Knowing your identity in Christ brings freedom.

To get there, one place we need to start is with renewing our minds. Identity is tied to our thoughts. We must change the way we think. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on good things. We need to start believing and speaking the truth. We need to speak positive over our lives more than the negative. Another thing we need is healing. Healing from wounds and past hurts. Healing from lies we have believed. Healing from any false identity that we have created for ourselves. We can ask the Holy Spirit to show us any lies we have believed and to heal any wounds we may have. One big area I feel we need to grow in as Christians, is to receive and experience God’s love. When we receive God’s love, then we can love ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves we can’t fully love others and we can only minister to others to the level of our own healing. We must look to God for who he created us to be. When we are looking to others and to things arounds us to define us, we are unable to walk in our God designed identity. We suffer and the whole body suffers when we try to be something other than what God has called us to be.

-The true you is always more popular than the fake you.

So here it is…. change isn’t easy. But change is worth it. There is a price to pay, but wherever you are in life, you are already paying some kind of price. Living bound to a false and ungodly identity has a high price in anyone’s life. Knowing who you are in Christ sets you free. Freedom is waiting for everyone. So, how do we begin to find out who we are in Christ?

Let’s start by defining identity.

According to Mr. Webster, identity is who someone is, the quality, beliefs, etc. that make a particular person or group different from others, the distinguishing character or personality of an individual, and my personal favorite, the condition of being ones self and not another.

Now lets look at what God says about our identity.

These four things frame everyone’s identity.

1. You are unique. Psalm 139 tells us that we are made unique, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It tells us that no matter where we go The Lord is there. It also says that God’s thoughts about us are precious.

2. The Lord has designed you for a specific time and purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 1:3-5 tells us that God chose us in him before the foundations of the world…

3. Nobody can take your place in your world. Each of us has a place to be fitted in the Kingdom. Ephesians 2:19-22 tells us we are members in the household of God and are fitted together to grow into a holy temple.

4. You are uniquely gifted and needed by those God has called you to be with. I Peter 4:10 tells us that we each have a gift and should minister to one another.

Each of us are unique. We all are created with a purpose. Each of us are needed by each other and in God’s Kingdom. We all have gifts and talents. We are all a part of one big puzzle and each of us need fitted into the picture. We need to be confident and steadfast with who he created us to be.

There is no such thing as a perfect identity. We as humans certainly make mistakes, but trying to live our lives in the way God created us will give us a freedom and a peace we will not find anywhere else. If we always try to be someone that others will like, we will end up not having peace in our lives. We will never make everyone happy and everyone is not always going to like us. However, to have peace in our lives, we must listen to God and get comfortable being who he wants us to be. We’re meant to rely on him, to know his love for us, and trust that God has the best plans for us. It’s not what others think of us, but what God thinks of us that really matters. It’s how we see ourselves that defines who we are, not how others see us.

True identity lies in Christ. We may look for it in other places, and even find it there for awhile. We may create an identity for ourselves that may carry us for a time, but in the end if we put our identity in anything else, other than Christ, it is temporary. Build your identity in Gods love for you. Unchangeable. Unconditional. Never failing. Build your identity in who he says your are. I want to leave you with this thought. Ask God to show you who you are. Ask God to see yourself through his eyes. If you need a place to start, here are some things God says you are:

Beautiful
Loved
Cherished
Justified
Set apart
Set free
Gifted
The Apple of his eye
Protected
Adopted and Born of God
Made with a purpose
God’s workmanship
Fearfully and wonderfully made
He knows every hair on your head
A new creation in Christ
Chosen by God
You are never forsaken
He has laid out a path for you and made your path straight
You are forgiven
You are redeemed
You are perfect in His sight
You are made righteous
You are Gods representative
You are warriors
You are sufficient to minister to others
He will give you the mind of Christ
He heals the broken hearted
You are the sons and daughters of Christ
He has made you righteous
You are more than conquerors
You are an overcomer.
You are ruled by peace and not fear
You are quickened by His word
You are complete in Him
You are a Kings kid
You are bought with a price.
He died for you and bought you with His blood.
He loves you
He will never forsake you

Be blessed my friends.

What Does Your Mirror Say?

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I posted this on Facebook a couple days ago, but wanted to share it here as well. I feel like this is a powerful message about how we view ourselves as women. Far too often we are hard on ourselves and only look at the outside image, when we should be looking at the total image of ourselves, from the inside out. I hope this brightens your day.  I hope this lets you believe that you are enough. I hope this will help you see what I see. You are beautiful my friends!

Fitness for Optimal Living

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Today we have my good friend, Kelley Raetzsch, as our guest blogger. This article was first published on Kelley’s blog over at Fredericksburg Parent. I loved it and felt it is another aspect of identity and wanted to share it with you. Be blessed my friends.


Kelley__portrait

 

 Fitness for Optimal Living 
 Written by Kelley Raetzsch

 Take care of yourself.

My brother in-law spoke these words to me as we departed from our recent family vacation. I took these words to heart along with great conversations about food and physical activity. Before I tell you more consider this:

What comes to mind when you hear “fitness”?

Is it how your body looks?

Is it how well you can perform physical activity?

As I replayed the encouragement “take care of yourself” I considered other areas of fitness in my life. We must consider that our physical fitness is only one area of life where we benefit from being fit. How fit are you?

Physical Fitness. Get moving! Physical activity is known to keep illness and disease at bay, improve mood, increase energy, promote better sleep and achieve and maintain healthy weight. By the way, did you know some individuals can be FIT and FAT? Check out this great book:

big_fat_lies

Food Fitness. How well do you pay attention to what you are feeding your body? Are you fit with food? Does your intake include a variety of foods from all food groups? If you are missing complete food groups, counting calories or points, obsessing over what you ate, worried about gaining weight from eating certain foods, letting the scale or current diet control what you can and cannot eat, you may not be fit with food.

Spiritual Fitness. How do you express and engage in spirituality? Personally, I am Christian and aim to strengthen my relationship with God. Honestly, I have struggled recently in this area and might consider myself out of shape!! How can you get fit with spirituality? Check out this guide:

Spiritual_Fitness_Guide

Family Fitness. Whether you are parents, grandparents, foster parents, etc., do you engage and participate with your family regularly and in positive ways? In my stage of life, I take the 15 minute drive home to clear my head of the da’ys work clutter and fill it with readiness to receive the energy of my two boys! When I don’t take this time, my family fitness diminishes. Can you relate?

Relationship Fitness. This is very similar to family fitness. Do you make time for those who are important to you? How do you spend that time. I’m out of shape in this area too, but I have a plan in place to get fit. My best friend and I have to schedule each other as appointments to make sure we can see each other consistently. Personally, I need this time to get regenerated in some areas of my life!

Mental Fitness. Oh boy, this one has been tough lately, too! I have allowed more negative thoughts to take space in my mind. Not good! I am diligently working to replace them with positive, life giving thoughts! Additionally, this can refer to keeping my mind sharp through learning, reading, and brain teasers! How’s your mental fitness?

Others? What are other areas of fitness we should consider in our lives? How fit do you consider yourself after thinking about fitness beyond the physical aspect?

See more at: http://www.fredericksburgparent.net/blogs/love-your-body

Identity Crisis: My One True Self

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Hello friends. I am continuing on with the identity series today with my own personal story. First, I want to say that this has been and still is my personal journey. I am by no means completely where God wants me, but I have come a long way.

I think we all at some point in time ask ourselves, who am I, why am I even here on this earth? Who is it that I want to be? I do think some people in life come up with great answers, however I believe that most of us really just don’t know. Far too often we learn to define ourselves through our surroundings, things we have, or own, and I think many of us define ourselves through what we think others, think of us. In reality none of these things have anything to do with who we truly are. I have found in my life it has been hard to discover who I really am, and even when I do, I don’t always like what I find. Thankfully, that is where God comes in. We don’t have to stay who we currently are, God has given us the power to change.

Now I could truly start at the beginning of my story, you know I was born and grew up in the country, blah, blah, blah, but the only thing I will say about that is, when I was young we moved a lot. I was always the new kid, and being an introvert, I always had a hard time making new friends. I grew up in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. I have lots of wonderful memories of hiking, cutting wood and our own Christmas trees and living a country lifestyle that comes along with growing up in a small rural town. When I was fourteen my family moved to Fredericksburg and we have been here even since. Being the new kid in high school and having a heavy southern accent had lots repercussions, but I survived and am better for it. I share this little part of my childhood to say this, I already had formed a bad self-image before I ever hit adulthood, as most of us do. But what I really want to talk about is, how by the time I was in my twenties, I had no idea who I was, or who God created me to be. I was totally lost. I had tried to put everything into my life that I thought would make me happy and I wasn’t.

I was raised in a Christian home, was saved when I was six , and had Jesus as my friend for as long as I remember. I have always talked to Jesus as, just that, my friend. My parents loved me, took care of me, and I was a smart girl. But no matter what happened along the way, I still had a bad self-image, and did not know who I was. As a teenager I had an idea of what I wanted my life to look like. I dreamed of the future and made plans for my future self. When I was young I rarely lived in the moment. I was always dreaming about the future and how great it would be. I had lots of ideas of what my life would look like. Now that is not necessarily bad, but I was building up an expectation and image in my head. I wasn’t praying about what God had for me, I was coming up with ideas on my own. Then I set out to make them all happen. A husband, a career, children, a home, even down to the pets that I wanted.

– don’t hide behind a façade. I had become very good
at fooling myself  and  everyone around me, only
letting people see what I wanted them to see.
I realized that I was not close to anyone.

By the time I was twenty five, many of those things had happened for me. I was married. We had three kids, a house, and we even owned a business. We worked hard. We were young and I wanted to prove that we had a great life. I REALLY wanted a great life. But I was depressed, lost and unhappy. At the time, I was a stay at home mom, and sometimes I thought that maybe giving up so much to stay home was why I was unhappy. We had financial problems, maybe that was it. My husband and I had been married for almost four years and the “in love wild days were gone”, maybe that was why. We had other problems and struggles too, but what I came to realize was, I was not free. I was letting everything around me determine how I felt about me and who I was. I had filled my life with my own image. I was so busy living my life and hiding behind a facade, that I was scared to leave it behind. I was too busy trying to be comfortable and trying to impress the world, that I did not stop to look at and listen to God. I didn’t look at the one who could show me who he wanted me to be. Too busy, to look at my maker, who has called us to him and given us a purpose. Somewhere along the way, I had lost myself. Lost my self through sin, hurt, betrayal, and rejection. Then trying to find my way, I left my true self behind and taken on a false identity, my façade, to keep me safe. I filled my life with things. A house, a car, pets, homeschooling, church duties, hobbies, and even my friends and family. Now all of these things can be wonderful. These things to have, and the people to share our lives with. But if we are defining ourselves through these things and even through our loved ones, we are just trying to create an image. Maybe we are just finding a place to hide. Hiding in a facade we have created. This is where I was, and I was looking at a stranger, someone I didn’t even know, someone I didn’t even like. I wanted that to change. And now I had one question. Where do I go from here?

So the point that I am making is that I had set myself up to fail by creating my own image of what my life and I should look like. I had created an ungodly expectation.

I want to leave you with this thought. How many things have you done or put into your life by trying to create an image of what you think happiness and success look like?

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

II Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Identity Crisis: Lies from the Enemy

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I’m continuing the identity series today with a post about how the enemy uses our lack of knowledge of who we are to spin a web of lies that ensnares us.

-The enemy wants us to believe a lie. He does not want you to come into the revelation of who you are and who God created you to be.

We are born into sin, and the devil starts lying to us the first chance he gets. He fills our minds with lies, about who we are, why we were created, and where we are going. He tells us we are ugly, unwanted, a mistake, incapable of chance, unworthy, and that we will never succeed at anything. He asks us questions like, who do you think you are? Why would anyone want you? What makes you think you are important? He plays on our emotions to make these lies seem true. We become focused on ourselves and begin to believe the lies he weaves. We believe it is what others see and think too. Then when someone or something lines up with the lies it makes it even more real and easier to believe.

For many of us, even if we were raised as Christians, we were never told the truth. We were not told who we are, who God created us to be, and who he is in us. For those who were raised in the world, and even many Christians, the enemy’s lies have taken hold. When we do hear God’s voice, it sounds muffled, distant, and foreign. Like strangers in a foreign land, we have come to understand the native language more easily than Gods language. We do not understand what God is trying to say. Yes we are saved and not of this world, but we have lived here so long that the language has become familiar, even comfortable. Because we live in the world, and are used to listening to the world, it is easier to believe in the lie than the truth. The enemy loves this. Sometimes, what God tell us seems so foreign, that we reject it. We reject the very life he is trying to give us. The truth that he speaks to us, we do not understand. It goes in and we say what? That isn’t what I have been told all my life, can it possibly be true? So we go on believing the lies and negative words spoken over us and about us.

However, with enough truth spoken, with prayer, and renewing our minds, we can see that the very life he is trying to give us is right there. We just have to reach out, open the door and walk through. We just have to believe. We have to start recognizing the lies and declare the truth instead of the lie. The more we put in God’s truth, the easier it becomes to believe his truth and see the lies of the enemy and of the world. We will go into more of how to do this as this series continues. But for now I would encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to start speaking to you and revealing lies that you have come to believe. Until next time, be blessed my friends.

I Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.