Thursday, July 10, 2014

Choose Your Identity...

I just signed on to start working on a blog post, and found a post by a friend that I wanted to read first. When I went to leave a comment, there were these words: "Choose your identity". So really, it wasn't that deep, it was just asking me what name I wanted next to my comment, or if I wanted it to be anonymous. But it was perfect timing because I was going to title this post.....
"Who am I?"
 I am in a lot of different roles right now. Wife, friend, daughter, sister, teacher, mother....the list goes on. I have spent a lot of time thinking of who I am in light of these titles. It's gotten to a point where if people disagree with how I do things, I take it personally. Because if all I am is a mom, and someone thinks I'm a bad one, then where does that leave me? Or if I don't measure up to the kind of wife I think Derrick wants me to be, then am I a total failure? I guess I would be, if those were my true definitions. Thankfully, there is only one role that matters and it is the only one that has nothing to do with my performance.

"I am a follower of Christ."

That's it. Period. So simple and yet so hard for me to remember.

Here's the thing...Christ has changed me from the inside out. I was completely lost, and He saved me. I am nothing on my own. Any accomplishments, successes, and victories are because of Him. I have no trouble admitting this, as it is completely central to my life. It is what keeps me going every single day. It's the reason I strive to be a good wife and mother. It's the motivation I need to get out there and reach out to others and build relationships. I know all of this, I do. But I keep forgetting that this is my definition. My anchor. My rock. It's Jesus. And when I forget that, I slip into one of my biggest weaknesses...insecurity. I start to look at my other roles and want them to mean something. One of the biggest ones being my marriage. I know I am totally putting myself out there to admit this to all of you who read it but....I'm going to do it anyway. :) I have told myself for the past 5 years (almost) that all I am is a "second wife". I have used this term to excuse my feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. My husband loved his first wife very much, and God chose to take her home after they had only been married for a year and a half. It was not the way he thought his life was going to go, and it drastically altered...well...everything for him. And so, I've allowed myself, wrongly, to believe that I'm not good enough to be someone's first choice. It's not that Derrick has done anything to make me feel that way...it was just my sinful, selfish heart wanting to gain fulfillment in the wrong places. So, the other night, God placed it on my heart that I needed to confess this to him once and for all and move forward. I took this step and suddenly it was like the blinders fell off and I could see everything clearly for the first time! Even a godly marriage to a godly husband cannot truly satisfy, apart from Christ. For too long, I have been defining myself in human terms...but no longer. I'm a child of God. I'm part of His Church. I'm a follower of Christ. I'm forgiven and saved by His incredible mercy. And I'm a servant who will follow wherever He leads. That is my definition, and I yearn with all of my heart to be known by these titles, and NOT by anything else. I LOVE my husband, more than words can express, and the roles I have as wife and mother give me so much joy that at times I feel like my heart will just burst within me. But....all that aside, even those wonderful things do not make me Melyssa. Jesus did that a very long time ago, before I even existed. Psalm 139 will shed more light on that! :) 

I'm not defined by who I am....but instead, by who HE is. Amazing. 



And now, I am SO excited for this next part!! Words of wisdom from my hubby!

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“Who am I… can I condemn this man to slavery… pretend I do not see his agony…"


Ok, now that’s out of my system I want to comment on my wife’s post sharing a little of my perspective. 

This idea of identity is one that drives all of us. What is it that makes us who we are? Often we point to circumstances in our lives, people who challenged us, or hurt us. We look at our accomplishments and abilities, and sometimes even allowing ourselves to be defined by our failures. 

Our experiences make us who we are, for better or for worse. They are the things that have caused our strengths and our weaknesses. And we hold on to the good and the bad because it is who we are. This is who I am because this is what life has made me to be. 

People generally have a hard time changing things about themselves for this very reason. When we try to give up something that may be dragging us down, we struggle because that area is part of what defines us. When we find our identity in ourselves and our experiences we tend to stay stuck, because we do not want to give up part of what makes us who we are. 

This is what makes following Christ so radical. The message of the gospel is simple. Death to ourselves and our own personal identity, and find our new life and identity in Jesus Christ. ( Gal. 2:20, Gal. 5:24, Luke 9:23, Rom. 6, Rom. 12:1, Eph. 4:20-24, 2 Cor. 5:17)

Finding our identity in Christ is a release; a release from ourselves. On our own we are ruled by our sin nature; a sin nature that leads only to death. (Psalm 51:5, Rom. 3:23, Rom. 5, Jer. 17:9) 

In Christ we find a new start; we are a new creation. There is something painful about letting go of who we are, but only in letting go can we experience true freedom and peace in life. It is a peace in yielding our sinful desires, our worries, and our struggles over to our King.  

Once our identity is found in Christ, rather than ourselves we begin to look at things differently. The people around us and their needs become more important that our own. The daily grind and worries of life become less stressful. Our focus shifts from an earthly mindset to a heavenly one. 

This is an amazing thing, and it is the crux of what being a follower of Christ is all about. Following our King is all about giving up control. It is yielding our desires and plans over to him. It is recognizing that on our own we are damned and it is only through repenting of our sin and dying to ourselves can we experience this life.

Now to get personal… I had to experience the lowest point in my life before I was willing to give up my identity and find it solely in Christ. It took the death of my first wife, Amy, before I really began to realize what life is all about. 

I began to realize that life is not about what I want to do, or my abilities and talents. It was about my life in Christ. I had been living with an earthly mindset, focused on what I could do, not what Christ could do through me. 

God has brought me another wonderful godly woman to spend my life with. When we first were married we both had a lot of growing to do. But the more we have given up control and the desire to maintain our own “identities” the more we have grown in our love for each other, for those around us, and for our King. 

It is a reminder that God takes all things, even what we consider bad, and brings it about for good, for those who love Him. He took the death of Amy and used it to bring both of us closer to Him. He has used it, and continues to use it to remind us to put to death our own identity so we can experience true life in Him.

This is still a process. Christ has saved me and changed my heart, but there are still bugs that need to be worked out. However, as I seek to be conformed to Him and His word daily, I become less like Derrick and more like Christ. And that is a good thing. 






2 comments:

  1. Love it <3 And...now I have that song in my head...thanks, Derrick! How about this one? "Hallelujah, all I have is Christ! Hallelujah, Jesus is my life!"

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    1. I love that song!!! What can I say, Derrick is constantly singing songs from Les Mis! haha

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