Category Archive: Identity

Oct 25

Broken is NOT Worthless

 

broken is not worthlessSuper excited this week to share with you a blog written by my sweet friend and fellow CCA counselor, Allison Hutson. It’s a tremendous blog!! Allison is joining me out at our McKinney location and is currently scheduling clients. She is the counselor, I send all my friends to. Her blogs and social media accounts rock! Find her online at http://www.stewartsgift.com or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @StewartsGift.
When you hear the word “broken” what comes to your mind? Close your eyes and visualize “broken.” What do you see? Sit here, mindful of the image of brokenness… what feelings are you experiencing? … Sit deeper into that feeling and image… where do your thoughts travel to? Being aware of all your senses right now, what stands out to you as you are focusing on brokenness? How would you put into words what this exercise has been like? Be descriptive… use colors, verbs, details… now open your eyes and shift your focus away from the brokenness.
As you open your eyes and shift your focus, you are probably finding it difficult to move away from this experience. You are probably feeling a bit dazed. You are probably noticing a weight that has come over you. You are probably feeling stuck in the images, emotions, and thoughts even though I have asked you to shift your focus. This is because brokenness does not go away just because we will it to vanish. Brokenness is a total body experience that lingers long past its welcome. Broken likes to fragment… Broken is many pieces. Broken is complex. When life is broken it too is complicated and fragmented. Brokenness in life is not relieved by a simple resolution or merely willed away.
When life leaves us broken, we feel worthless. Click To Tweet
When life leaves us broken, as it so often does, we tend to equate broken with worthless. If we break a material object we consider it trash and throw it away, right? We have learned that broken is trash, it has no value, it has no purpose, it no longer functions properly, its worth is no more. Scripture says, “I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel” Psalm 31:12. This is not a new feeling or experience, it is how people CHOOSE to conceptualize brokenness. But what if brokenness was not worthless or trash? What if broken was not lacking in purpose or value?
Scripture says:
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
“Well, that’s great and all…but I am still broken…” I know, scripture is not magical and does not take away all of our pain. But my prayer is that you begin to see brokenness from a new perspective. I want to share some pictures of artwork created by artists from broken materials.
Broken Glass:
‘Glory Window,’ Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, Texas
Shattered Glass Sculpture by Daniel Arsham
 “Echo” by Caleb Nichols
 Broken Ceramic:
Broken Dishes by  Li Xiaofeng  
“Broken Things” by Chilean artist Livia Marin
Sandra Shashou ceramic art sculptures
Broken Pottery:
 Restored Vase
 Re-purposed Flower Pot
These are materials that most people would have thrown into the trash. The flower pot breaks and no longer pots plants so we throw it in the trash. The dishes shatter so we quickly label it useless and sweep it into a trash bag. But the images above portray a new possibility. The images above declare trash, in the hands of an artist, can be a new creation full of value, purpose, and beauty. No one would call any of the artwork above worthless, trash, without value… people are drawn to this art! In fact the original form of the dishes are significantly less in value than the re-purposed art piece!
 Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Isaiah 64:8 reiterates, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
You are the artistic masterpiece of God Click To Tweet
YOU are the artistic masterpiece of God…he has created YOU and has the ability to take YOUR broken pieces and re-purpose you with intent for you to be purposeful, valuable, beautiful, and to function fully! The reason why we are broken is not fully important… it matters, but there is no reason too great that would prevent the Master Creator of the entire Universe from making YOU a masterpiece!
 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6. I love this verse because it implies that the paths we travel in life are broken. They are crooked. They lead to dead-ends, hurt, pain, and grief. The further we attempt to fix our broken pieces alone the more broken our path becomes. We take the path that allows us to be numb (alcohol, drugs, etc.). We take the path that attempts to experience life or feeling of sensations again (self-mutilation or self-harm). We take the path that will possibly end life and the broken worthlessness we live with (suicide). We take the path that paralyzes us (anxiety). But here in Proverbs we are told not to trust our own understanding of what creates life; we are encouraged to trust in our Creator (the ultimate artist) to put the pieces of our broken life together so we can travel a straight path that is appealing and satisfactory!
An artist sees opportunity where others see no potential. When God looks at you he sees your brokenness and whispers, “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7).
Life breaks us taking the fabric of life and shredding it into many pieces leaving us tattered. What makes us feel like worthless scraps, God can knit and sew into a beautiful tapestry perfect, valuable, and adored.
 Quilt Made From Scraps of Fabric
Broken is increased worth and value. Broken is untapped potential. Broken is a testimony to new beginnings. Broken is opportunity for restoration. Broken is a beautiful masterpiece.
Are you broken? Is life complicated? Do you feel fragmented and worthless? There is hope! You are the masterpiece of the greatest artist…God of the Most High…who is desperate to restore you, re-purpose you, and let you experience your full potential. Let God work in your life to double your value!
“Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.” Isaiah 61:7
This blog was originally posted at StewartsGift.com

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/not-worthless/

Apr 01

Identity Attacked

The idea of identity and its significance to our mental and emotional health has been rolling around in my head the last several weeks. Our ability to challenge lies, face fears, and stand up to temptation is all connected to our identity. So what is identity? It’s who, at the core of our being, we are…how in our own minds, we define ourselves. As I reflected on this idea…I came across a passage I have read many times.
matthew3Matthew 3:16-4:3. The temptation of Jesus comes immediately after his baptism. God declares His identity.
“My Beloved Son”.
It is set.
Determined.
Not up for debate or argument.
Yet, with each temptation, Satan starts by questioning His set, established identity.
“If you are the son of God….”.
If you are? Are you kidding? God, the Creator of the Universe just said who He was! He’s God’s beloved Son! There’s no need for Him to prove it by doing anything.
NOTHING!  NO!  PROOF!  NECESSARY!
Temptation begins with the questioning of our fixed identity. Click To Tweet
Yet here is where the temptation begins…with identity. See, your identity as a child of God is SET.  ESTABLISHED.  Identity defined by God's loveSETTLED.
It’s not up for debate.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and SO WE ARE.” 1 John 3:1
But our temptations start here too…with us questioning our set, established identity. We doubt. We wonder. We don’t feel good enough or worthy. We question. We listen to our shame.
Identity matters. Who we believe we are and where we get our value anchors our soul to something. Anchors keep boats from drifting due to wind or current.
Do you anchor your identity in the solid, oceans deep truth that you are a child of God? Or, do you anchor your identity in a neighboring boat. It may be your children, your job, your spouse, a close relationship, your possessions, your image or any other thing. Can you imagine if boats in the ocean threw anchors into each other? They would all SINK! Seriously, it would be chaos. There is only one solid place to anchor your identity.
Identity Anchor
God knows we will struggle with this. “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 1 John 2:28
This verse says that the secret to anchoring our identity in Christ is to abide. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9
Abide means to rest, dwell, accept, and to act in accordance with.
Even when we don’t feel it, abiding in Christ will help us have confidence in our identity. God knows our tendency is to shrink from Him in shame. That’s what we do with other people when we screw up, offend them, disobey, or have conflict. We avoid, hide, or distance ourselves from them. Yet God wants us to draw near.

 

 

Identity matters. Who we believe we are anchors our soul to something. Click To Tweet
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of gracethat we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
Jesus understands. Someone questioned His identity, too. He’s been asked to prove Himself, too. He went to the cross so your identity as a child of God can be permanently and forever FIXED!
Jesus understands. Someone questioned His identity, too. Click To Tweet
Let us with CONFIDENCE draw NEAR to the throne of GRACE to receive MERCY and HELP in our time of NEED.
What a remarkable phrase. You don’t have to have it all together, be perfect, clean yourself up, or have it all figured out to confidently draw near to God. It’s the exact opposite. We confidently draw near to find the help we desperately need!
You don’t have to have it all together to confidently draw near to God. It's the opposite. Click To Tweet
 No matter how loud our shame screams: UNWORTHY! IMPERFECT! NOT GOOD ENOUGH! THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU!
You can CONFIDENTLY DRAW NEAR to Jesus.
He wants you to!!!!!
Beloved, draw near to Jesus and rest in His work on YOUR behalf! Know that your identity is anchored securely in Jesus. Not in what you do. Not in your relationships. Not in what’s been done to you. It’s in Christ!
Beloved, draw near to Jesus and rest in His work on YOUR behalf! Click To Tweet

 

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/identity-attacked/

Mar 08

Embracing Imperfection and Finding Freedom

perfection masquerades as goodThat’s a strange thought for me. Embracing imperfection. Several years ago, I sat in my counselor’s office and he challenged me with this idea.
Hi, my name is Aimee and I struggle with perfectionism. Anyone who knows me well will laugh at that statement…because it’s painfully true. I’m a first born, high-achiever, minister’s daughter. I grew up with eyes watching me, looking to me (or so I thought). Perfectionism was born and rooted deep in my heart.
Perfectionism masquerades as something good. Who wouldn’t want to strive for excellence or success in all things? Yet, it comes with BIG cost…insecurity, self-doubt, and lots of SHAME.
See perfectionism is impossible…
Let that sink in a minute.

 

Perfectionism masquerades as something good. Click To Tweet
No one is perfect; no one functions at that high level. We all know this deep down. Perfection is a mirage that leaves us in a desert wasteland, dry and thirsty.
Perfection is a mirage that leaves us in a desert wasteland, dry and thirsty. Click To Tweet
How can this be, you ask? How can something presumably good lead us so astray?
Perfectionism brings SHAME. It communicates, “be perfect and you’re okay”. When your humanity kicks inPerfection leaves us dry and you mess up, perfectionism shouts, “something is wrong with you because you aren’t perfect.” Cue the shame and unending self-doubt and self-loathing.
Here’s the light bulb moment….perfectionism and abuse communicate the same message.
Both speak condemning shame and inadequacy. Both shout, “something is wrong with you.” Both abuse and deceive us.
So how do we get free?
By embracing our humanity, weaknesses, flaws, mistakes, warts and all. By sharing our imperfections with those in our life. By living life fully transparent and real. There’s freedom here. Scary, vulnerable, beautiful freedom.

 

By embracing our humanity, weaknesses, flaws, mistakes, warts and all. Click To Tweet
You see perfectionism is often image and identity driven. You want others to see you as a “have it all together” person. You fear failure because you see it as your definition.
But failure doesn’t define you; it’s an experience to learn from. Identity isn’t in what you do or don’t do. Identity is rooted in something deeper; it’s who you are. We are all broken people living in a broken world with other broken people. We are human. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we fail. What’s beautiful about us IS our imperfections. It’s what unites us and sets us free.
What’s beautiful about us IS our imperfections.. Click To Tweet
Owning my many imperfections, has freed me from the tyranny of shame. Click To Tweet
For me, owning my many imperfections, has freed me from the tyranny of shame that used to beat me up mentally when I failed. I think the biggest Aha moment for me in my own journey was this thought: “If I am perfect than I have no need for Jesus.” So beloved, I will revel in my imperfections because Jesus is so much better. I will trade SHAME for GRACE and experience REST and FREEDOM. My mistakes and failures remind me of His perfection in my place. Before God, the perfection I long for is mine, not because of my goodness or excellence but because of Christ’s goodness and excellence.
I will trade SHAME for GRACE and experience REST and FREEDOM. Click To Tweet
My mistakes and failures remind me of His perfection in my place. Click To Tweet

Imperfection Gets Grace

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” 2 Corinthians 11:30

 “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
“Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron….For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son (Jesus) who has been made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:11, 28
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness (perfection) to everyone who believes” Romans 10:4
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/embracing-imperfection/

Oct 13

Embracing Who We Are

This is a crazy metaphor…maybe only women will understand it…but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about embracing who we ARE and not striving for something different.
This came about as I started letting my hair, do what it does…which is a half-hearted wavy, not real curl kind of thing.
For years, I have just straightened my hair (or kept it shorter). It never really did much else…yet all of a sudden my hair has more spunk (or waves) if I let it.

FullSizeRender-3

Sometimes I do, I let it be wild and wavy…some pieces are straight, some curl sweetly and some just frizz or stick out. My inner perfectionist screams that my curls are wild and out of control…yet I let them be and do what they want to be and do.
As I have wrestled with this different type of hair (and let me assure you, the struggle is real…short hair may be in my future), I picture all of us in life. We are wild and wavy. We are unique. Some of us frizz, some curl cutely, some stick out straight, but we each matter, and we each have meaning.
We are wild and wavy. We are unique. Some of us frizz, some curl cutely but we each matter. Click To Tweet
Yet so often we don’t let ourselves just be wild and wavy. We are told to straighten out. Don’t be unique; be like all the other straightened out people…boring, the same, and perfectly smooth.
The thing is…even when I straighten my hair…if it rains or I sweat, the wave returns. There is no perfect conformity and there is no such thing as perfection. It’s an illusion…an unattainable standard. All the striving for perfection brings me is the feeling that I am constantly not enough. I need to do more or try harder.
Yet I am who God created me to be and so are you… wonderfully wild and wavy. I make mistakes and I mess up. Sometimes my waves are pretty and sometimes they are a frizzy mess.
Grace is wild and wavy. It uproots perfection and shouts “It Is Finished”. I’ll settle for wild and wavy because it means I get Jesus…His perfection is better than my horrible attempt to straighten my wild and wavy hair…..
Grace is wild and wavy. It uproots perfection and shouts “It Is Finished”. Click To Tweet

wildlove

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/embracing-who-we-are/

Feb 24

The Comparison Identity Trap

So what is up with girls? Deep down inside, we each long desperately to be known, understood, and loved for who we are (warts and all). We love finding girlfriends who just “get us”, who find us silly and fun. We are drawn to those friends that we have things in common with. As young girls, we delight in our friendships.
Then something happens…..I am not sure when it does but at some point we start comparing ourselves to other girls. In the process we begin to judge ourselves as less than in some area: beauty, fitness, style, intellect, heart, personality, talent, etc. We create an “ideal” self-image that, let’s be honest, is probably super unrealistic. Yet, we judge our self against it day after day. And day after day, we feel less than, unimportant, unworthy (especially when we are super active on social media)!
So what do we do?? We try to be the best at something: the most popular, prettiest, most fashionable, most athletic, most intelligent, most fun, most rebellious, most artistic, etc., etc.
In the process of trying to create for ourselves this awesome “ideal” self-identity, we stomp on friends along the way. We may drop friends because they don’t fit our ideal or we may be so caught up in our goal that we don’t realize we hurt them.
WHAT KIND OF MADNESS IS THIS????
Making yourself better (at anything) does not bring you what your heart deeply longs for! What you really want, more than anything is to be truly known and loved for who you ARE. In your effort to create this ideal self, you are no longer “who you are”.   Whoever loves this “ideal” version of you doesn’t really know the real you! And, deep down you know it! That’s why chasing these things feels empty. Not only that, you often hurt the real friends you had all along.
Where you look for your identity is important. For Christians, our identity is IN CHRIST! We are completely, fully, and finally loved. All the belonging and acceptance that you long for is already yours IN CHRIST. You have it, now, just as you are!
So, pursue the things that God uniquely created you to do (sports, school, arts, beauty, etc) but do it as a reflection of God’s glory through you. Love others with the love that God has poured into you. Forgive other ladies when they fall victim to this comparison/identity trap and hurt you. You understand it’s power and you’ve fallen victim to it yourself.
Seek safe friends that can be REAL (warts and all). Friends who embrace you for your uniqueness and celebrate their own.   Friends who are aware that they mess up and can own it.   Friends that push you to Jesus. Remember we live in a broken world and people are going to hurt us (because we all sin). We can’t change what happens to us but we can decide how we let it impact us and what we do about it. And remember, when you are hurt by another person this does not change your worth or value!!! Run to Jesus when you are hurt and hear Him say “Don’t be afraid.  Don’t give up.  The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty enough to save you.  He will take great delight in you.  The quietness of his love will calm you down.  He will sing with joy because of you.”  Zephaniah 3:16-17 .  He loves you completely as you are (the current, messed up, non-perfect version of you).
This is an imperfect process since we still live in a broken world.  We will continue to struggle with comparison, identity, and looking to things other than Jesus for our identity.  Sometimes we do great for a while and then catch ourselves looking to something else for meaning.  THERE IS AMAZING GRACE FOR THAT!!  It Is FINISHED!  You are forgiven, move on, fix your eyes anew on Jesus.
Sharing your real struggle with safe people is a great way to start finding real connection. How have you struggled with this?  What are your fears? Where do you tend to place your identity?  What is your deep longing?

If you like what you read, please comment below or share on social media. ❤️

God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/the-comparison-identity-trap/

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