I am convinced that there would be no hurt or offenses [or sin] if we knew our identity.Too often I find myself in an identity crisis. Honestly, it doesn't need to happen as much as it does. In April I wrote this post about life being a daily battle, a raging war. I had felt trapped as though I were suffocating by life itself when I was reminded at the real-ness of the everyday war we are all up against, whether we know it or not. We can choose to fight and stand tall, with the help of God Himself, or we can choose not to / forget and become imprisoned.
I find these prisons to always be an identity crisis.
In April, I woke up every day to read through Ephesian 6:10-18. It became a habit, a discipline, first nature itself, to put on and wear the armor of God. It was a lifestyle that I slowly let slip away, because I forgot that the power was from the Spirit of God, not Natalie. During that time, I was set free daily of anxiety and stress. I was clearly reminded that when conflicts or offenses arise, it is because we are each in this war against Satan and the evil rulers of this world.When I remember those Truths, my heart is light and I have loads of compassion and understanding for others. Giving grace becomes easy when I have the Spirit of God protecting and guiding me, telling my soul that others need His spirit and grace too.
Trouble arises when I quit putting on my armor: Evil himself begins his subtle attacks, slowly, but surely. If I don't catch it right away, I slip into a state of exhaustion and weariness, because I am trying to fight the battle alone, without God's Spirit, His armor. I had been catching myself feeling shameful over the last few weeks and I didn't like it. Shame does not come from Jesus. Talk about identity crisis. Though I was still spending time in His word and talking with Him about many things, I avoided the deep root issue going on: my identity was slipping away from Him. I wasn't placing my core identity in Jesus Christ everyday.
Today interrupted that dangerous cycle and I am grateful.
A true friend came over for lunch and said these words to me:
I love you, Natalie. I love your heart and I love you so much. Recently, when I am around you, I feel like you are imprisoned. Like you are trapped. What is going on?
She reminded me that, "We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world and evil spirits in the heavenly places." She wasn't condemning me. She was loving me and calling out my [sin] which was residing in suffocation. In Jesus, there is fullness of joy and life - which is the opposite of prison. I processed through with her what was going on and friends, it isn't easy to be vulnerable. It is a risk and it is painful and you reveal SELFishness. You reveal yourself and you feel ugly and you know you are wrong in so many ways and thats what is frustrating, but you still are being heard and known and loved and a friend will gently help you process and love you through it all. A friend will walk you through the painful parts of processing and remind you that you are human and you need Jesus' grace. A friend will remind you of your identity. A friend will pray with you before leaving.
I need to be a better friend to those I love.
This time of actual vulnerability and raw honesty escorted me right into Ephesians to turn to God in an honest way.
Before God made the world, He loved us.
He chose us.
We are His and because of that Truth, we are holy and without fault in His eyes.
Before I sinned, before I obeyed, before I existed, He loved me. The same is for you. We get to claim those words as part of our identity: chosen, holy, faultless. The verse following this says that it gives God the Father GREAT PLEASURE to adopt us as His own. Friend, does that not bless you in your soul and bring you peace? Can you take a deep breath of relief with me? He did not adopt you with hesitation or grudgingly or nervously or cautiously or with angst...He adopted you and it gave Him >GREAT PLEASURE<.
This, this is what brings me to praise God: because of His glorious grace poured out onto me! He loves me and chooses me even when I am filled with ugly bitterness and self-entitlement. He is so gloriously gracious! Because He is rich in kindness + grace. He has showered us in His kindness, along with wisdom + understanding.
All because of Jesus.
Here is the reason for my identity crisis: I forget who I am in Christ. I forget to trust God [+ His Truths].
I share because I wonder if this is more prevalent than we let on. I wonder if we are more alike on a deeper level than we think and allow each other to know.
Here is my break down of the beautiful cycle I want to continuously pursue:
I have found that when I give thanks I trust Jesus. Real and true and creative gratitude - giving thanks in the small and minute and in the large. I mean things like bubbles in pancakes when they are almost ready to flip; leather journals; sun after a rainy day; clear skies revealing stars; dust on the shelf; husband smiling when he gets home from work. [Visit our Life of Joy category]. When I give thanks for the small details of the life Christ is giving me, it is then that I am reminded how trustworthy He is. It is in the thanksgiving that He reveals His trustworthy love for me, individually. When I trust in Christ's atoning sacrifice for my falling-short and imperfect self, it is then that I let loose the parameters and measurements of this world. It is then that I quit fearing man and man's judgment, and revere the Lord. When we trust in Christ's sacrifice to atone for our sins, then we know we are holy and faultless in His eyes; we feel His warm embrace surrounding us & keeping us safe. It is then that I am released of ungodly expectations and standards and facades. It is then that I remove my identity from floundering and to Jesus. When this happens, I praise God because He has richly blessed us with grace.
I am convinced that there would be no sin if we walked in the identity of Christ. I am convinced [for now] that if we walk in our true identity every second of life, there would be no sin or selfishness or pride. We would see other people's identity as well, and give grace freely, knowing who they are in Christ. Jesus is always the answer [to an identity crisis].
Spending HONEST time with Him will always set us straight, always tweak our mindsets.
"And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit."
He loved you so much He identified you as His own, HE GAVE YOU PART OF HIMSELF. He put His own Spirit within you. A Spirit of grace and truth, not of fear and timidity. What a gift. We get to call upon Him even after we forget to - He resides within us.
Thank you, Lord, for being our identity. For calling us holy and faultless, and finding great pleasure in calling us Yours. You are the best Father.
[Make time to read Ephesians 1].
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If you related to this, check out Do You Know Who You Are?