Identity. That's my word for 2014. It might have been my word for 2013 but I didn't pick a word for 2013. In any case, I think God's been working on me and my identity for the last year, and from all signs in the past two weeks, He is going to keep at it 'til I get it.

First off, one would think that a 41 year old woman would know her identity by now (not to mention her age, but I almost got out a calculator to make sure I wasn't 42 yet which is what I typed to begin with… I digress). I would expect me to know this about myself, but what I've really done for 42 years, is wonder what other people thought my identity was and then try to figure out if I agreed with them.

It will come as a surprise to some and as absolutely no surprise to others, that I spent my younger years with a pretty wild identity. I thought identity had something to do with power and control, which had something to do with sex and relationships. Although raised in the church, I had no relationship with Jesus and therefore neglected to look for identity in the one place that would have offered me hope. A lot of what I associated Jesus with was judgement, gossip, more judgement, and pot luck dinners – but not hope and not identity.

One day I'll write more about the events that led me to finally recognize Jesus in my life, but suffice it to say that I took a very difficult path. A path that could have destroyed me. As a matter of fact, it did, for a while.

But eventually I figured out how to make better choices and I found that Jesus could be very real to me. And I started to figure out who Jesus was, His identity. And knowing that helped. But as I've been being taught over the last year, I still didn't really know who I was.

This morning my daily reading was Matthew 4:1-11 – this is where Jesus was 'led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.' I've read this many times, and I have heard many sermons about these verses. But today was the first day God spoke to me through it. Isn't that so amazing, how a passage that you think you know suddenly reveals something totally new? So today, as I was reading about Jesus being tempted with food after forty days of fasting, and then mocked, and then offered the entire world – I thought, “Boy, He really knew who He was.”

I mean, listen, I got really cranky over the holidays from eating junk food and having too much to do in too little time. But He had not eaten for forty days, had been alone for forty days, and was facing a future that was incomprehensible. My point here is that I was really very not nice and gave in to every food temptation put before me, without hesitation or second thought. And never once did I really think about who I really was. I was just a task master, worker, mom, wife, wrapper, doer. I totally forgot who I really was from the stress of the holidays, of all things.

But Jesus never forgot. Ever. For one second. He never forgot who He was. The reason Jesus was able to stand strong against temptations that any human would have naturally given in to was because, despite his weariness, his hunger, his physical pain, and his treacherous future – He knew who He was. And who, pray tell, can stand up against that?

So this morning, I thought about that for a while and then this came to me, “What could you do if you just understood who you are, in every moment, without ever forgetting it.”

And who am I? I am enough. I am enough. I am enough. I am a fully accepted daughter of the most High God. I really am. Grace has done everything for me, there is nothing left for me to do. I've nothing to prove. I am fully accepted.

And when I rest in that identity I'm different. I'm patient, happy, loving, tender, unassuming, and accepting. I can stand up against the temptation to prove my worth through doing because my worth does not need to be proven. I remember that other people's opinon are their responsibilty, not mine. I remember that every single person, even the ones I disagree with, they are enough, too. I let go of the need to be right and remember the unquenchable need to love.

When I remember who I am I write with a flow that is unstoppable because I'm writing from a place of peace. You see, this blog started because God said he would redeem all my pain if I would write. I don't know how that's going to happen and I am reconciling myself to the idea that I may never know. I may write the rest of my life and never know why or whether it helped anyone in any signficant way, but when I remember who I am, I write. Because it doesn't matter what the results are, it is the obedience that matters. I truly believe that this writing is my redemption – I just have no remote idea what that means.

And that is why, if I'm going to pick a word, my word is Identity.

I'm working on memorizing three verses that I picked out a week ago – and as I looked over them this afternoon I was a little suprised to find that each one of them is a reminder that if I remember who I am and who God is, then I can let go of my need to defend and protect, and instead just focus on love.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have trials; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.

Here's to 2014: Letting go of fear. Releasing the need to be right. Embracing differences. Standing for what I believe to be true, but always resting in the grace of my loving Dad. Trusting in my heart and in the promises given to me. And always, finding new ways to love people because when I remember who I am, when I remember my identity, love is the only possible response.

 

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