Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What defines you?

What Defines You?

What defines me?

I feel as if I have allowed what I do in this world to define who I am. To be very honest, it made me feel good when I was defined by something good. A youth minister... A good mother... A good wife... A praise and worship singer... An artist... A leader in general... Yes, being defined by those categories always makes me smile, but it's not really who I am.

There are negative things about me that I don't like being defined by. I am a woman with Fibromyalgia... I am a woman with a fiery temper (this can be good or bad)... I am a human being with issues (aren't we all?) I am a woman who battles depression and has battled many other "generational curses".  There will always be rumors about me that are not true, or that are blown completely out of proportion. People will allow their view of me to be skewed by these lies, and these rumors will define me in their minds. Not one of these negative things define who I really am either.

This is a hard concept for most of us to grab hold of. Too often, we want to be defined by our titles because it's easier to do that than to really investigate who we really are. Unfortunately, there are many of us who allow ourselves to be defined by the negative aspects, negative rumors, and poor choices in our lives. Whether the definition of us is negative, positive or somewhere in between, it doesn't define who we truly are.

What if you were all alone?Who would you be on a deserted island? Would your titles matter? What if there was no one else around for hundreds of miles? Just you and God... Oh, yes, very scary to think about. Who are we really when we are all alone with God?

When we start to dissect this concept, it's hard to think of things to say. At least is was for me. A long silent pause in my mind and heart followed that question when I asked myself, "Who am I when there is nothing around me to hide behind?". That's what I'm doing, hiding. That was very hard for me to accept.

What happens when we hide?

When we hide behind our titles, strengths, weaknesses, and sometimes even the lies, we refuse to allow who we really are to shine through. I'm not saying that you can't have a title or allow yourself to be known as your title. I'm not saying that you shouldn't admit that you have issues, or that you should ignore them. I am saying that you must put those aside, and really look at yourself. You are not what the world defines you as. If more of us would separate away from these definitions and allow God to show us who we are in Him, imagine what we could do in this world God has given us! When we hide, we don't allow God to use us to our full potential. We forget that, even thought we are suffering through an illness or issue, we are not that illness or issue, WE ARE a child of God. That we don't have to rely on our own strength, we only have to rely on His power moving and working through us.

Who are we, really?

We are children of God. He loves us so much, and He wants us to constantly be aware of that love He cares for us in ways we cannot even grasp. It doesn't matter if we are sick, depressed, a new mom, a bad mom, homely, a missionary, beautiful, a clown, a professional basketball player, a pastor, a teacher, a crook, a pervert, ninety-seven years old, or the president. He loves all of us, and He has a plan for each of our lives. We need to get out of our own way, and let God work.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:9-11

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:12-13

 
Allow yourself to grow.

We must take the opportunities God gives us to grow. I believe this is an opportunity for you to be stretched. Did you know that when you stretch a rubber band, it never goes back to it's original size? That's what happens when you allow God to stretch you. You never go back to who you once were.

If everything we have ever used to defined ourselves is taken away, then who are we? Let me ask again, if you were alone on a deserted island, who would you be? How would you define yourself then? I'd like to think I would say that I am God's daughter, I am loved by God, and he could not love me any more. What I do or did doesn't define me, nor does it cause God's love to grow or falter. That how the world views me doesn't define who I am any more than what color my eyes are dictates whether or not I can cook. I know that's a silly notion, but it makes about as much sense as allowing what we have done in our past to dictate how much God should love us. None of these things affects God's perspective of me, so why should I allow it to affect my perspective of me? None of these things limits God's plan for my life, so why should I allow them to limit me?

When I was a new mother, I was so worried about the opinions of my in-laws, family, friends, and even outsiders. My husband and I had not made the best decisions. We were both young, stupid and the combination would have been deadly if it weren't for God's grace. I really wanted his family to love me, and I wanted to be perceived as a "super mom". Something, I thought, would be of value to his family. I wanted them to be impressed with my ability. I wanted to be known as a something special to people based on what I could do physically and emotionally. Well, I was a typical, new mother who was dealing with hurts and things that happened in my past, I didn't know how to handle everything, and I just didn't know which end was up. I didn't realize how far God wanted to take me, and I didn't know how to let Him take me there.

I made mistakes (like everyone does). I fell short of the definition I had set in place (like most of us do). I struggled with my mistakes, and shortcomings. I really desired to please others and forgot what was the most important thing. The thing which trumped all other things, to do what my kids needed, and to give myself to them and to God. I did a pretty good job with my kids, I believe. They are really good kids, and I'm not the only one who thinks so, so it must be true! Honestly, that was a complete God thing. My husband and I were just talking about how we certainly do not deserve the kids God has given us. But instead of enjoying all the moments I had with them, and reveling in the things God wanted to show me while I nurtured them, I was stressed and worried that I was going to mess it all up. When I was too tired to play, I felt guilty. When I hurt to much to do the things they wanted or needed, I felt guilty. I felt like I was not a good mom because I didn't measure up to the description I had put in place for that role. I honestly felt like God would be disappointed in me if I didn't live up to my expectations, not to mention everyone else.  I don't think I'm the only mom who has felt that way. We've got to stop confusing the world's opinion (even our own opinion) with God's opinion! Really, when you are standing before God, who's opinion is really going to matter?

My list.

I've made this list to remind myself of how different my perspective is from God's, and how my viewpoints have changed as I have allowed God to change me. I hope you will take the time to do the same. When you write a negative comment be sure to counter act it by writing the truth. God's truths  are always so much more powerful than the "Negative Nancy" comments we come up with. I'm trying to be real here with these comments. I am not writing them to offend anyone, nor do I expect anyone to think better or less of me. I just wanted to give real examples of what I know we all do to ourselves. We allow lies and negative thoughts to dictate who we are instead of allowing God's truth to shine through us. Stop feeling guilty and grab hold of the truth!

 The lies and negative comments are blue, and the truth is in black.
  • I have Fibromyalgia. I'm erratic, moody, and I don't function like I should. I will never be okay again. I will never be able to fulfil the plans God has for my life. People don't understand, so they misinterpret my actions, and that will always be a battle I face. I may have Fibromyalgia, but I'm trying my best to overcome, and rely on God ever day. Even if I don't "get well" in this life time, it's not going to make God love me less or make me love God less. In fact, I believe that God can and will use this for good, and He will be glorified through this time in my life. I also believe that the people who truly matter in my life will try to understand. I will try to be patient with them as they walk with me through this journey. We are all human. We all make mistakes. We can all grow.

  • I can never be as good as other mothers who went about things the "right way". Being pregnant before I was married and already having one child was a mistake I will carry forever. I should try harder to do and be better. That is the only way I can atone for my mistakes. The appearance of my life always matters, as does my house, my person, and so many other things people look at. I will never live up to the expectations of others. I am a mother, and I do the best I can. When I make a mistake or cannot do what I think is necessary, that's okay. My list of shortcomings will not make God love me less. My prayers will constantly cover my children, and their lives will not be tainted by my mistakes. Generational curses will end NOW. My past sins will not be a burden on their lives and they do not have to live under the issues, hurt and brokenness that I did. The people who really matter in my life don't judge me based on my housewife's skills. They come to see me and my family, not how clean my house is. I don't have to atone for any of my sins. God forgave me of them the moment I asked, and no one else should hold me accountable for them.

  • I am a youth leader. I don't deserve the term "minister". My group is small because I don't know what I'm doing, and I should be able to figure out how to draw the young people in. It's just a matter of time before everyone sees through my shortcomings, and I will be replaced. In fact, they are probably already on the hunt for the person who is supposed to be in my position. Me being placed there had to be a mistake. I am a youth minister... Because I minister to young people. A title doesn't really matter, and as long as I operate in what God tells me to do from day to day, I am doing okay! My group is small, but that's okay too. Having a big group will not make God love me more, nor does it mean that I am doing anything wrong. God doesn't measure success the same way we do, and when it's time for me to move to another ministry... He's gonna let me know. This is where He has placed me, so I will work for Him as long as He lets me stay in this position.

  • I sing on the worship team, but when they find someone better, I will be pushed aside. It's only a matter of time before I do something that makes them see I don't deserve, and am not good enough to be doing this. I sing on the praise and worship team because God told me to. When and if He's ready for me to step down, He will let me know. If I hit a wrong note, God will not be upset with me. If I sing perfectly, God will not love me more. As long as I realize that it's His power I operate in, and I must give this gift to Him continually... I think I'll be OK. I just want to bless others, it's not about me, and I don't need to worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of it's self.

  • I am a wife, and no matter how hard I try, I will never be what my husband needs me to be. I am a godly wife, and I try to be a positive force in my husband's life. Even when I have a bad day, unintentionally pick a fight, or cannot be the "Leave it to Beaver" wife, God still loves me with the same level of love that He does every other day. I truly believe my husband loves me too. He is a good man, and he understands when I've had a bad day.

  • I look okay. Some days are better than others. I need to try harder to be what I think is attractive or beautiful. I need to lose weight. I must believe I am beautiful, because God doesn't create anything less than beautiful. Even without make-up, or with an extra twenty pounds, I'm beautiful because I am God's creation.

  • When someone says I should do something, I should probably do it. Especially if they think they are speaking for God. What do I know? They are probably right. I am not close enough to God to know better, obviously. If I can't live up to what the people in my life think I should be able to do, that's okay. God will give me the strength to do what He wants me to do, and all those disappointed people will be okay. :-) God will let me know when He wants me to step up our step out.  I accept that I, unfortunately, like pleasing people, but understand that pleasing God is so much more important. I will try very hard not to get the two confused.

  • I am not an artist. That terms is reserved for people with far more talent than I have. I should not use this as a gift because it is less than good and people will think that I think too highly of my talent.  I should listen to the song, "You're so Vain" more often. If people have that much time on their hands that they are worried about me, then they can get a grip... However, I really don't think they do, and I know that God planted a creativity in me that He wishes to use. I may not be Monet, Picasso, or any other famous Artist, but I have a desire to be creative that is stronger than almost any other desire in my heart. That has to be God, and He will use that desire in whatever way He sees fit. I'm gonna just go with the flow!

  • I am names I cannot even type on this blog. The things I've done are foul, stupid, and not worthy of forgiveness. I will never be able to forgive myself. I will continue to grasp the concept that what I do or have done in my past, doesn't define me.  I am defined by God and how He loves me. I am a forgiven, washed clean, virtuous woman of God. He loves me, and has chosen to forget all of my sins. That should make me want to sing at the top of my lungs!

  • If I don't project the idea of worship that everyone is expecting, then I have failed to lead others in worship. If I don't sing well, on key, or in the right fashion, then I cannot lead others in worship. My worship cannot differ from the types that came before me.  I was created to worship God. Even that doesn't have to look like the world's interpretation of "worship". I must continually ask God what it should look like, and how He wants me to do demonstrate my worship to Him. He will use all of my gifts to worship Him. That's awesome!
I hope that you will begin to grab hold of these truths with me, and let go of the lies that hang on so many of us. I wanted to be real with you, and I hope that you don't think these things in blue have a hold on me. Yes, there are times when I still battle with some of these thoughts. Mostly, these are things that are in my past... My old way of thinking.

I'm sure you have something to add to your list, and not all of my issues are your issues. I know that it's so hard to step away from this idea we have about who we are, but I know you can do it. Even people who say the right things, and know that they shouldn't be defined by these titles, etc., still struggle with this. It's just so easy to get caught up in the tornado of what people see in you, combined with what they think you should do for God, combined with what we think of ourselves. It's easy to get swept away and possibly never see your giftings used the way He wanted them used.

If we are going to love others, we have to love ourselves first. We have to realize that we are worth loving. God realizes that! Don't let people, the world, or our insecurities tell you differently! For my friends who are struggling with some kind of illness or issue, I know how hard it is to grasp this truth. We can get through this. We can be who God has called us to be! And most importantly, we can grow in confidence even when it doesn't match the world's idea of who you should be, or what you should do!


I love you! Be blessed and live in the truths that God has placed in your lives. You are the person God has called you to be. Not me, not her, not him... YOU. So, you be you, and be happy!




5 comments:

  1. First of all, if that is your artwork- IT"S FABULOUS! God has given you an amazing talent. I want to see a lot more of your work, please!

    Secondly, you always speak directly to my heart. I am trying to learn that I am okay just the way I am but I am having a hard time getting there. I feel like I am failing everyone around me, especially my husband and my elderly mother but also God. I just keep thinking that I have to "act" and "do" as if I am not as sick as I feel so that I can do the things that I am "supposed" to do.

    I hope someday to get to the level of acceptance and faith that you have. Keep blogging. It helps me so much!

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  2. Loved your photography and I'm sure whatever you are doing now is interesting and glorifying to God. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL - always have been and always will be - your smile and eyes light up any place fortunate enough to have you present. Worship is building an altar to God - whether it contains our mess ups or our triumphs - He gave us the materials and we build that altar with our lives. Your handsome husband is blessed to have you and those kids - those smart, funny pretty children - yep - y'all did that together. Happy isn't "when this or that" - happy is resting in the Lord and doing what He puts in front of you -

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  3. Thank you guys for your encouraging words. We are all in "process" of getting to where God wants us to be. It's a blessing to know that I have encouraged you, blessed you, or helped you in any way. I hope that you have a wonderful day and are able to impart some of your wisdom to someone else today. That's what it's all about, and I know that I have learned something from each of you.

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  4. Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well.

    Have a blessed day!

    In Christ,
    Dakota - A Look at Life from a Deerstand

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  5. I sure will Dakota. Thanks for reading my ramblings!

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