Two words have been mulling around in my life the past few months, identity and rest. So much of my life experience has been geared towards figuring out what the first means, and how to do the latter. You can read here for more of my thoughts on rest and how I am sorting it out in this season of life.
I am almost 34. My birthday is coming, a day I LOVE and am sure to constantly remind others is oh so important, but I’ve noticed that I am surprisingly struggling once again with my identity as year 33 comes to an end. I say this because I feel like I JUST DID THIS, the whole identity crisis thing. Didn’t I?? I remember moving away from my beloved Jonesboro three years ago (how is that possible??) and I suffered what was the second largest identity crisis of my life. It is what prompted me to start Faith and the Fig Tree in the first place and what beautifully led to my enrollment in Seminary. Interestingly enough, the first one was during my mid-twenties when Jesus decided to shake up my life and show me who He really is…gracious, forgiving, unconditional. I hadn’t lived like I believed or understood that until then and my new identity in Jesus began.
I would love to say that I rock and rolled through the 9 or 10 years that followed with a holy security in who I was, but unfortunately I had many more smaller, but significant identity crises at a rate of what now seems to be every 3 or so years. What on Earth??? At what point am I going to actually have an intact identity?? When is this all going to fall into place? As I have sorted through some personal analysis the past several weeks, I am coming to the conclusion that maybe what I am dealing with isn’t so much about my identity as a person, but more as my “faith identity.”
I have been reading a book by Staci Eldridge called “Becoming Myself” in which she refers to a verse that is one of my all time favorites, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) It doesn’t say we were already transformed, or we were transformed at the moment of conversion and it was completed at that moment in its entirety. It says we are “being transformed into His likeness,” we are a work in progress, an identity continually being formed and molded. As Staci says, “God is unveiling who we truly are. Unveiled faces, as Paul put it. All those veils of shame and sin and the false self, all those veils others have put on us, thinking they know who we ought to be- God takes them all away so that with unveiled faces we might reflect his glory” (p.23).
The crisis then comes when we lose faith in what God is doing in our lives and in forming who we are. This is my struggle….How am I useful? Does He truly love me, I really messed up this time. There I go disappointing Him again, surely this is it. What does He want from me? What does He want for me? So many questions… which of course is the rearing ugly head of doubt.
The truth is, I know I am a forgiven, redeemed child of God and nothing can snatch me from His hands (John 10:28). My questions come with purpose and love… always about purpose and love. The reason rest is so difficult for me is that it messes with my need for purpose- I’m not doing anything. But the crisis of my identity comes when I lose faith in God’s love.
The gracious and merciful thing about God is that He is truly a God of process. Growing up is a process… whether it is in our natural human life or in our spiritual walk with Christ. There are lessons to be learned, truths to be understood and mistakes to be made. God is in every lesson, truth and mistake, molding us and shaping us into the person He designed us to be. Now is the time to keep my eyes on the one who made me. To fight against doubt, uncertainty and the need to do.
The only answer I have today, for this identity crisis during this particular season in life is the one thing that is so hard for me to do… REST. Rest in who Jesus is, what He did for me, why He did it. Return the focus to the place it should have been all along…Jesus. Take the time to enjoy the ones who love me through nourishing conversation and simple fun. Breathe His air, look at His beautiful creation… and rest.
“There are stages in life when there is no storm, no crisis, when we do our human best; it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely. If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him. We have been talking a great deal about sanctification- what is it all going to amount to? It should work out into rest in God which means oneness with God, a oneness which will make us not only blameless in His sight, but a deep joy to Him.”
-My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers