Tag Archive: identity

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?

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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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