When I was in my twenties, I was afraid to let people see who I really was. I thought if people found out about the real me that I would be judged, turned away, or even made fun of. I was worried that if I put away my mask and my pretending that I would be left all alone. I was locked and chained into a life of pretending. I was held in bondage by fear. The fear of rejection and the fear of who I truly was. After all, what if she were not enough? What would happen if I showed my true self and was left with nothing? So for years I pretended, put on a mask and let the fear of being found out rule my life.
-It had escaped me that the very thing I feared most would be what set me free.
It had escaped me that the very thing I feared the most, being real and transparent, would be the very thing that would set me free. Free to be me. I have a group of friends and we say that a lot. Free to be me. It is worth repeating and that is what transparency did for me, it set me on the path to freedom. My path began around the time I first heard the poem “Our Deepest Fear”. If you have never read it, then I highly recommend that you do. It’s about being authentic. It’s about being transparent. It’s about being all the God has made us to be and letting our own light, and God’s light, shine through us. I still remember the first time I heard it. I cried. I wanted that. I wanted to be all that God had created me to be. I wanted to be real and to stop pretending. Then I made a decision that changed my life. I would start to do my best at being myself. I started taking steps of faith. I prayed and first asked God who I was. I started being completely real and transparent with myself and with Jesus. He loved me enough to save me, so I figured it was a safe place to be transparent. As I started my journey of transparency with him, I begin to laugh at myself for not doing it sooner considering Jesus knew everything about me already. Time went by and I began to become more comfortable being “real”.
-Instead of being judged and rejected, I found myself being loved.
Then one day I was put to the test. A good friend of mine called me. She was going through some struggles and was about to make a bad decision. She was unhappy in her marriage and was sharing her struggles with another man. “He is just a good friend” she said to me. I told her it was dangerous to be sharing her struggles with a man other than her husband and that she should end the relationship. She restated that he was only a friend and wanted to know why I felt so strongly that she should end the relationship. It was in that moment that I felt the Holy Spirit rise up in me. I had a decision to make. Should I tell her the truth? Should I be transparent? I felt the Holy Spirit say tell her. Tell her your story. You see, just a couple of years before this, I had an affair. He was our best friend and when my marriage was in trouble, I turned to him for help. We talked. We shared our struggles. And then, we fell into sin. It was hard, but I shared my story with my friend. She was the first person I had talked about it with since it all had happened. I was shaking on the other end of the phone because I was so afraid she would judge me. Instead she cried. She cried and then came over to my home and hugged me. Then we prayed for her and her marriage. She ended that relationship, talked to her husband, and worked on her marriage. After that, we became best friends. I had never really had a best friend like her before. I had friends, but I had always kept them at a distance. I was completely transparent with her and she loved me more than any friend I had ever had. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I had shared my biggest, darkest secret with her and not only had she loved me in spite of it but more because of my sharing it with her. It was a life changing experience for me. Since then, I have shared my story and my struggles many times. It has almost always been the same result. Instead of being judged and rejected I have found myself being loved and have had many people come along beside me to help instead.
Those experiences have made me realize just how much power there is in being transparent with one another. Now, we should be spirit led. I am not saying to be an open book all the time, but with those that God has put in our lives, we should be real. Everyone should have a place and relationships where they can be completely open, transparent and authentic with one another.
-There is power in transparency
There is power in transparency. Being transparent takes away anything the enemy has on you. It’s like telling the enemy to shut up. My Father already knows everything there is to know about me and Jesus paid the price for me. Being transparent sets you free. Free of condemnation, free of guilt, free of the fear of what others may think and free of embarrassment and shame. By being real and showing who we really are, the good, the bad, and the ugly, it creates an atmosphere for truth. It creates a place for others to be transparent and to be encouraged. Our own transparency helps us to not be judgmental but instead look at others through eyes of love and acceptance. It helps each of us to come along side and be there for one another.
Some of the effects of transparency:
- Leaves no room for secrets and sin to hide
- Removes the enemy’s footholds
- Removes feelings of being alone
- Gives you freedom to be yourself
- Releases joy as you lay down your burdens
- Develops an atmosphere of truth
- Develops trust
- Builds authentic relationships
- Fosters unity
- Develops spiritual community
- Gives a place for accountability
- Gives a place for helping and nurturing one another
- Encourages others
- Builds confidence
- Strengthens our walk with Christ
- Strengthens our walk with each other
I want to leave you with this. I almost always find that when I start sharing about my life, past hurts and things I struggle with, that others join in with their own struggles and stories. I have shared ugly things about my past and even my current struggles and instead of people turning me away or hating me, they have loved me more. It has also given them a place to share their own struggles and weaknesses. I think God wants us to start taking that leap of faith to be our true selves. To share what we have been through. To share what we struggle with, our fears, our hopes, our dreams, and ways we fall short with Him and each other. It isn’t always easy but, I believe, it is always worth it. I believe this is one powerful way that we move forward in our walk with Christ and with each other. Be Blessed my friends.
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Colossians 3:9-10 Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
John 8:32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
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.
This week’s Poetry Tuesday is “Bound No More”. I have been working on this poem for a few weeks and last week it all came together. I love the song “Break Every Chain” and was inspired to write this poem while listening to that song. Enjoy and Be Blessed my friends.
-John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed
Bound No More
I hear the chains falling,
Falling onto the ground.
I hear my God, His voice is calling,
I once was lost but now I’m found.
I hear the chains falling,
There is freedom from my sin.
I hear my God, His voice is calling,
Telling me it doesn’t matter where I’ve been.
I hear the chains falling,
No longer afraid to leave the safety of the shore.
I hear the Lord, His voice is calling.
You’re set free, delivered, reborn.
I hear the chains falling,
I’m going deeper than before
I hear my Lord, He is calling,
You’re the one that I adore
I hear the chains falling,
Falling off my feet and hands
I hear my Lord, He is calling,
Saying it is time to take a stand.
I hear the chains falling,
No longer held in captivity.
I hear my Father, his voice is calling,
Dance my child, you are free.
© Leah Jacobsen
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:
The Apple of his eye
Adopted and Born of God
Made with a purpose
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.
This week’s Poetry Tuesday is a powerful spoken word by Joseph Solomon. This spoken word is incredible and has me thinking of my own doubts and fears and what God’s truth says about them. Take a few minutes to watch my friends and then ask yourselves; Do I have a backpack of fear? What are my questions and doubts? Then together let’s lean on the one with all the answers. Let’s open our ears and mustard up just a little bit of faith and courage. And let’s doubt our doubts together. Be blessed my friends.
This week’s Poetry Tuesday feature is a poem about trying to create our own identity and coming to the place of realizing we can only find our true identity in Christ. Be blessed my friends.
Who are we?
Searching for ourselves
Trying to build a dream
That always seems to fail
Out of control
Creating an image
On which to hold
Forgetting that it’s simple
Looking the wrong way
Focused on self
Forgetting to pray
All that we need
All that we are
He already gave
And bore the scars
Ask our Father for
Based in the truth
Not in how we feel
A lesson we learn
In God identified
Created with purpose
Delivered, transformed and sanctified.
© Leah Jacobsen
Ephesians 1:4 According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love
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.