i-den-ti-ty: The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known
“One of the great Christian clichés is that [our identity crisis] is neatly solved when we find our identities in Christ. I agree. I also have never heard what exactly this means, how you do it, or what it looks like. But sometimes I think we don’t know because we don’t grapple with it on a core level.” (Kelly Minter) This is the lesson I’ve been taught my whole life; once you are saved, Christ is the only identity that matters. We, as women, seem to be caught in an incessant pursuit to discover our identity. From a young age, our Christian culture has given us tenants on which to build our goals & dreams: marriage, motherhood, & even career, to name a few. None of those are inherently bad, on their own, but because of our fears, most of us have turned them into idols. I used to believe this lie that when I got married & started having kids, my life would begin…I would finally have an identity worth talking about. (Notable ‘career’ has never been a personal ambition.) The story of Sarai & Hagar in Genesis 16 calls out this idol & destroys my false sense of trust, in that lie. Sarai, Abram’s wife, is basically barren & has become impatient enough to “fix” things on her own. Her remedy is to send her servant, Hagar, to her husband so that “it may be that [Sarai] shall obtain children by her.” (Gen 16:2) The story progresses to show Sarai’s resentment of Hagar once she is with child & eventually to have the Lord resolve the situation in only a way that He can. Genesis 21 shows us the fulfillment of God’s plan. It could have ended with out all of the baggage Sarai’s manipulation brought about, but she was impatient & scared. God had fully intended to give her a “life”, an identity, but it did not happen within the parameters of time she & society saw as ‘right’.
Thankfully for me, a series of living arrangements fell through & a seizure took place to stop me from “fixing” things. I was no where close to being married but I had been throwing out my standards & dating people I thought would get me to the altar, so that my “life” could begin. God trapped me into a season where I was forced to denounce the hold my idol of marriage & motherhood had on my life. I’m not saying this happened easily…in fact, I’d venture to say I appeared to be a stubborn child, playing in the street after my dad’s numerous warnings. I didn’t get hit by anything or hurt too severely, while I continued in my rebellion; I just scrapped my knees a couple of times. Those things I admired & that I deeply desired were essentially poisoning my relationship with the Lord & it was hard to acknowledge those things as idols. There were times when the enemy used small things (even from the mouths of people I loved & respected) to feed into my fears, the fears that encouraged my need of those idols. Someone told me that my opinion did not matter because I had “no life experience.” Another used the phrase, “waiting for your life to start” when negatively referring to my stage of life & the way I was choosing to live. Those words were so wounding & even now, feel so harsh when I see them in writing. They stirred up insecurities in me & in my abilities that I had never struggled with before. I questioned every word to come out of my mouth, every opinion, & every decision. It’s good & healthy to have sought out counsel, desire confirmation before acting & to seek assurance that you are not functioning outside of Biblical parameters. But, I was far beyond those pure actions & motives… I was sinning. I had an absolute distrust in the abilities He had given to me & I was acting on my fear.
I cannot tell you exactly how, but one morning I woke up & it just clicked. I woke up in full revelation that the only mold I needed to fit was Christ. The truth had finally penetrated my heart…
“My identity is Christ.”
My fears & the idols I had created to ‘self medicate’ my disposition to chase momentary securities were snuffed out. In No Other Gods, Minter says that “fear is the bond that attaches us to our idols.” Throughout that season, the Holy Spirit was so persistent in His pursuit of my surrender with those fears.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
Here is what this looked like for me as my heart & brain figured things out…
Ok, so there is no fear in love because perfect love has thrown it out & fear is connected to punishment…plus whoever fears hasn’t been fixed by love… Well, perfect love is Jesus (1 John 4:16)…and punishment is a result of disobedience, which is my sin…through the law- I can never make restitution for my sins on my own (Romans 3:19-20)…and I know that Jesus destroyed the law by taking on my punishment (Ephesians 2:13-16)…so of course those who don’t know what the Lord has done are still going to fear…wait…
Why am I still fearful??
Why was I fearful? What did I have to fear? Why was I allowing social stigmas to have value when I knew they were not God-ordained? I had allowed my fear to build, & even secure, idols in my heart & life that were based solely on deception!
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Are there areas you’re allowing your fears to bond you to your idols? Have you allowed room for them to be broken? Do you even care? Stop believing lies, whatever they may be, because you are His treasured possession; you’re chosen & made holy. (Deuteronomy 14:2)