new eyes for identity

God has been tilling up the soil in my heart a ton over the past 9 weeks. Last week, we took a 20 hour bus trip to Drakensberg, South Africa for the Nations to Nations conference. We joined up with 3 other DTS groups and had an awesome week of lectures, praying into calling, doing outreach at local schools, and getting involved with a Zulu church in Katani.

I was really blessed by extended times in the morning for prayer. It was incredible to be able to be in the wilderness and cry out to God with all my strength and passion and not fear being heard by others. On my morning prayer walks, it felt like it was just God and I. It was so amazing. He really gave me more of a heart for my DTS group, the Zulu people, and also many friends back home in the states. He fueled me so much through prayer!

One of the biggest walls that I feel God was knocking down last week was the fear of man. I have been really struggling over the past few weeks with identity and the theme of our Nations to Nations week just happened to be “Identity, Dignity, and Destiny.” I feel like God was preparing my heart, before we even got to Drakensberg, to receive freedom. I entered into the week in Drakensberg with a lot of insecurities and even some hostility towards others because of my own issues and fears.

One thing God showed me was that I had been putting my trust, confidence, and security in the opinions and affirmation of others rather than in Him fully. This is really dangerous because it means that when someone disappoints me, injures me emotionally, or doesn’t affirm me as I desire to be affirmed, all of the sudden my confidence is sapped. Last week, I really felt like God was telling me to be content in His presence and just be who He has created me to be, without worrying about how others are interpreting who I am. I know that I have a strong personality and am pretty outspoken at times. Rather than praying to see how God wants to use that part of me, though, I started to filter things I was saying and analyze the responses of others and try to adjust my behavior accordingly to please man rather than God. What I’m learning, though, is that God never calls us to be less than ourselves. He always calls us to Himself as the foundation of our identity, security, and confidence. It is only out of that identity, rooted in Christ, that we are completely free to be who He has created us to be.

I feel like God released me from trying to live up to a certain expectation or of fitting into a certain mold. The reality is that I will probably never fit into the mold that I’m “supposed” to fit into. We are each created in the image of God and we each have a unique identity – an identity that is meant to be shared with others so we can grow and be sharpened and have a greater awareness of the heart of God. I know that I will still struggle with affirmation, at times, and the desire to be accepted and loved by certain people, but I am realizing that I need to submit those feelings to God moment by moment. Those longings of my heart for affirmation and acceptance are longings that can be satisfied by God completely when I turn to Him first.

Part of the reason I got rid of Facebook for a while is because I realized I was trying to live up to an expectation of having certain experiences or communicating certain details or staying in touch regularly or keeping up to date on everyone else’s life. It was a standard that I realized I could not meet. I was also convicted because I realize that sometimes, social media can become the channel for idolatry of self. I felt like I was promoting myself and my own experiences, joys, and insecurities too much and was not speaking enough about my God. He is the most important in my heart and life and should be conveyed as most important in all outlets of my life.

I will so often fail other people – just as I have been failed by people – but when our identity and security rests in Christ alone, then our hearts are sturdy and our feet firmly planted. Our confidence is not sapped by lack of approval or lack of affirmation when our confidence is in Christ. May we be rooted and grounded in His love, dear friends! And may we learn to love and encourage each other without ulterior motives or selfish agendas. May we love fully and freely from a pure heart because He first loved us.

Lord, see our hearts. We need your love and affirmation. We need to be rooted and grounded in your love and not the love of others. Father, we are frail and weak. Our hearts are fickle and we so often fail ourselves and others. Lord, please help us to see You as You are and not as the inadequate God that we imagine you to be. And Father, please help us to see ourselves as You see us. Show us how precious we are to You, oh God. Make us men and women who are confident in You and confident in ourselves. You have created us in your image and we are so beautiful. May we walk in the freedom You have given us and may we live as people who are seeking You with our whole hearts. Forgive us, Lord, for the times when we have leaned on others for emotional and spiritual security. You alone satisfy, oh God. May we be real with ourselves, real with You, and real with others. May we be willing to admit our struggles and shortcomings. Break us open, oh God, that we might be transparent and vulnerable. We have no more shame or guilt because we are free in You, oh Lord. Teach us to love as you love. Teach us to serve as You serve. We are affirmed by You. Help us to feel that in our spirits. Thank you, Father, for your precious love. Thank you for blessing us with friendships and relationships which glorify and honor You and encourage and build us up. May we delight in pointing others to You! You are so good and we praise your holy name! Amen. 

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