Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Real Life Women: Where is Your Identity?

How long have you been a Christian?
I have been a Christian since July 16, 1993, a little over 18 years.

What is the toughest season/biggest lessons you've had in your journey with God so far? 
Becoming a Christian I never realized just how many “tough seasons” I would go through in my walk with God.  I also never realized just how much I would grow and know Christ more through them.  One of the toughest seasons was understanding my identity, my identity in Christ, not in the world.

I was raised with the notion to believe in myself and to strive for success.  Everything I did was a direct reflection of who I was in this world.  My successes and failures defined not only my contribution to society, but me as a person.  If I failed a test, made a financial mistake, if I didn’t get the promotion, I not only failed in the action, but I was a failure.   For many years my identity was so closely tied to the world, my career, my education, my outward appearance, my assets, that any separation from them would take away from me.  Having this perspective, my identity in the world and my accomplishments, gravely skewed my priorities.  I loved God, my husband, my children, serving God, helping others, my job, learning, all of which are great things to love.  However, when the premise of my every action was to succeed, to do good, to be a value so that my identity was approved, it was more of a detriment than good. I was striving to appease the world, to be valued by the things of this world and it was never enough, I was never enough.

In 2007, God began a great work in me, stripping away my distorted identity in the world and revealing it in Him.  I became very ill, unable to live life as I once knew it.  I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and my body was literally being starved to death.   I had lost a lot of weight, slept for hours on end and began a very difficult journey of restoring my health.  Through that process I was able to do only about 1/10 of what I was used to doing. I was a failure.  I don't think I've ever so low, empty and of no value to myself, family or even God.

The amazing thing about being so empty and depleted of self is that it leaves a wide open door for God to fill you up. He began to reveal who He was and who I was in Him.  That no matter what I have done, no matter if I succeeded or failed, He was enough, and I was enough in Him.  He showed me that I am not defined by anyone, or anything I do but I am defined by my Creator. He showed me that He loves me and that His love is sufficient for me. 

My identity is in Christ.  I am a new creation.  I am beautiful.  I am His daughter.  I am loved.  I am an heir to the King.  I am everything in Christ my Savior.   No one or nothing can take that away from me.  He is sufficient for all my needs.  Apart from Him I am nothing.  I am in the world, but not of it!

How does your relationship with Jesus affect the entirety of your life?
When I look at Scripture and know that apart from Christ I am nothing, then I know that my relationship directly affects my entire life.  As I abide in Him, He abides in me and His love and grace radiates throughout my life.  It is amazing to watch the Spirit overflow from my life into others when I surrender all I am to Him and submit to His Will.  

However, there are plenty of times when I neglect my relationship with the Lord and choose to do things my way, within my own power.  It’s meaningless and brings me down and those around me.  It’s a daily, sometimes hourly choice to abide in Him. Every day I see more and more how much His ways are higher than mine and that a sweet relationship with Christ is the only way.

Through my relationship with Christ He allows me to not be defined by my circumstances.  He gives me the peace I need when I am anxious.  He comforts me when I am broken and sad.  He strengthens me to do all He has called me to do as a wife, mother, friend, and servant each and every day.  He protects me from the evil one and keeps me safe.  He gives me wisdom and the words to say when I cross paths with people all day long.  He gives me grace when I forget my son at the fields, lose my temper or say something hurtful to someone.  Most of all He gives me joy that carries me throughout my day and overflows onto my family and makes it all worthwhile!

What do you do when you need encouragement or uplifting?
Depending on the given day or depth of encouragement needed I do several different things to be encouraged or uplifted.  Sometimes, I lose myself in His divine nature.  I will go to beach and sit on the sand as I listen to the waves roar against the beach and admire the vastness of His creation.  His Spirit calms me, and lifts me up as I get a glimpse of Him and His Greatness.  I also like to walk around a nearby lake that is surrounded with beautiful, swaying trees as I listen to the fountain in the lake and the birds chirp, while feeling the sunshine on my face.  I put on worship music and walk praising God and experiencing His peace.

Sometimes I call a dear sister in Christ and share with her my weary or burdened soul and God will use her to speak truth to me, and lift me up through her love and encouraging words and usually laughter.

My favorite thing to do though when I need encouragement is to sit and dwell in His Presence.  I will find a quiet spot, grab my bible, play some instrumental music and get lost in His Word.  I have no rhyme or reason of what I read, but I always find that whatever it is, God meets me where I am at and speaks to me through His Living Word.  A personal favorite though is reading the Psalms when looking to be uplifted~

What encouragement would you give to other ladies who are trying to pursue God?
I would encourage you to seek God with all your heart, mind and soul.  
To daily look to Him through His promises and meditate on them day and night.  Our faith is not just about knowing the Truth, but believing the truth and that takes spending time with God.   We are all broken and sinners and fall short of His Glory.  However, through Christ we are made new and are forgiven.  Allow yourself to be transformed by His likeness as you know Him more and more.  

Don’t fight what God is trying to show you, or how He is trying to change you.  Embrace His ways, yield to His plan and enjoy a life with Christ on this earth until He takes you home.  Give yourself grace when you fail, don’t let the enemy make you think ANYTHING that is not TRUTH.  He has a plan for your life, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.God is faithful and loves you.  He wants you to love Him too.  He wants you to enjoy Him and all He has to give you. 

*Have a question for Tamara or Kathie? Leave it in the comment section and they'll answer you!
^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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