She said, “Here you are! Fill it out and bring it back when you finish.”
Question one: “Name”… seems easy enough!
Question two: “Family member’s names”… no biggie.
Then I came to question three: “Use 6 words to describe yourself?” Sounds easy enough, right? Or is it? As I sat there I contemplated, ‘how vulnerable do I want to be?’, ‘what do I really want to share?’, ‘what if they judge me?’.
Finally, I chose to describe myself with these words: wife, mother, dental hygienist, student, reader and compassionate. As I stared at the paper and reflected on what those words even meant, I found myself asking: how generic was l? What if I was honest, transparent and vulnerable? Clearly the question had been asked with the intent to learn more about who I was! By sharing though, that meant I would have to elaborate on some topics I wasn’t quite comfortable discussing… Daughter, dental hygienist, victim of sexual abuse, divorced, perfectionist, unqualified, sinner, remarried, infertility patient, breathing disorder, oldest child, sassy, heartbroken, controlling… and the list goes on and on.
What name tags are you wearing? How easy is it to get caught up in the ways the world would describe us? How often do we define ourselves by the pot holes we’ve encountered along our journey of life? How much of our worth is defined by our profession? Or even worse, how often do we define ourselves by what has happened TO us, often beyond our control?
We are in the midst of an identity crisis in our society. We are surrounded by friends, and maybe even find ourselves having no idea what our purpose is on this earth and, even more sadly, no idea how to discover it. So often we all find ourselves downcast and questioning “who am I?”.
While all of the above might be an accurate depiction of what the world says about us, true worth and value was spoken over us long before our first breath hit our lungs! In Jeremiah 1:5 we are told, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart.”
If you aren’t sure what God says about you, you’ll believe what the world says about you! So often I found myself questioning how all my short comings affected the way God felt about me. How could he really love someone like me?
Back in 2013, I’d been divorced a year or so. I had stepped away from church and was simply going through the motions of life. After an unhealthy relationship had finally come to an end, and at one of the lowest moments in my life, I found myself constantly questioning my worth. Satan found his way into my thoughts and was using them as weapons against me. Because my livelihood was “dental hygienist”, which required my hands to be in my patient’s mouth for the majority of my day, I was sitting in silence. This meant a lot of down time for my thoughts to run wild! This was the perfect breeding ground for panic attacks. The weight of my thoughts and unsettled heart became so heavy, and so burdensome, I started to feel lifeless. After about a week of daily panic attacks I knew I had to do something. Deep in my core I knew what I was saying about myself wasn’t true! I may not have known the Bible well but I knew about grace and forgiveness. I made three conscious decisions that drastically changed the course of my life:
First, I had to look to the Bible when I questioned who I was. Listening to the world, or even myself for that matter, was a disservice.
Second, I had to get back into church, and redevelop my relationships and friendships! I had done a terrible job of surrounding myself with others who were themselves unhealthy and unable to lead me in any positive direction.
And third, I had to stop listening to sappy music about relationships! It was allowing the sadness and disappointment to fester. So I committed to a 30 day challenge of Christian music only. It wasn’t easy to start, and it took a conscious effort! Anytime I felt a feeling that I needed help discerning, I’d google “what does the Bible say about…”. [Disclaimer: I had to use my best judgement of sources on the web.] For example, I had to google: “what does the Bible say about me being sexually abused as a child?”. The Bible says it was NOT my fault! Hearing this was huge! It had to be someone’s fault, and as a 7th grader it sure felt like it was mine. The Bible also offers a hope for healing!! By this time, I’d been burdened with feelings of fault, blame, and brokenness for much of my teen and adult life. Undoing those thoughts was no easy task but gradually the Holy Spirit filled me with so many other names for myself.
If we know are aren’t defined by what the world says of us, how are we defined? In 2 Corinthians 2:18 we are told, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” This means we are God’s children! Being a child of God also makes us heirs and citizens of heaven. This is great news, friends!! God called us out of slavery and instead he calls us friend! In Romans 3:24, God calls us justified and redeemed!!!! All the pain, shame, blame and condemnation we feel has been wiped, white as snow when Christ was nailed on the cross and proclaimed “it is FINISHED!” We are made new! All the names our past has called us are no longer valid! “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away–look, what is new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)! You are chosen, holy and blameless!
I challenge you, the next time Satan is whispering in your ear, or the world is telling you what you can’t do because of some “name”… go check out what your bible says about you! Check out what your God proclaimed over your life before even a single breath was breathed.