New Creations: Let me tell you about identity.

Happy Friday, friends!  I’ve talked about and around the concept of identity quite a bit in past posts, but today I want to invite you into my story of searching to secure my identity in all the wrong places, and how rooting my identity in my faith has changed that for good.  This summer, I met sweet Lexi through Instagram and as we started swapping pieces of our stories, we couldn’t help but notice that God has been making identity a tremendous theme in both of our lives recently.  From there, we decided to collaborate on our content and came up with the questions you’ll find below together.  We’ve decided to call this project “New Creations” in reference to 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  In Christ, the most important thing about our identity and the way we see ourselves in the world is new – we are transformed in Him, and we don’t have to hold onto the heaviness of the past any longer.

Read on to find out more about this freedom and its impact in my life – but first, please hop over to Lexi’s beautiful blog and check out her post!  I can guarantee that you’ll find more powerful truth about who and whose we are in her words.  The beautiful thing about the blogging world is the opportunity to step out in faith and be vulnerable with someone who shares your passions and interests, even if they live far away. I’m so excited to be partnering with this friend and her Rubies ministry to dive into this truth with you today!

What’s a significant experience that shaped your perception of identity?

Two years ago, I ended a relationship with my boyfriend of three years because we didn’t share the same faith.  When I came to college, my faith was a big part of my world, but not at all a part of my everyday life.  Through the transitions college brought first semester, and the ministry I joined, I learned more about what it looked like to let God into those spaces, and He began to work in my life in a completely new way.  Our God is not a god who distances himself from our messy or mundane moments – instead, that’s where He loves to share His truth and grace the most.  And when the person you’re closest to doesn’t understand or perceive life in that same way, it’s impossible to continue walking the same direction with them.  That was a decision I came to with a lot of prayer and strong encouragement from the Spirit, but it didn’t make it any easier.  It was hard to understand why something so good had to end – or if it was going to end, why it had happened in the first place.  Yet once we broke up, I realized how often I defined myself as “the girlfriend” in my mind – and that drew my attention to all of the other roles in life I use to define identity.  These are all roles that require me to do or be something – to keep trying, to meet expectations, and to please others.  Some of them – daughter, friend – are no less important, but they cannot be the pieces that define my view of myself – and that gave me my answer as to why.  God has been calling me to place my identity fully in Him, and learn what that looks like as I go.

How do you define your identity in Christ?

Free.  It is the freedom to be, not do, and it is the grace to let myself step into who He is making me to be right in this moment.  It’s a curious combination of salvation and the Spirit, constantly transforming me into something greater than what I could ever achieve on my own, while leading me to remove the responsibility and role-playing from my shoulders and step into a place of trust, dependence, and grace.  And as those things not only fill me up, but they overflow, and I am able to step into the calling God’s laid on my life to pour them out onto others.

What scripture guides your identity and how do you live that out?

Ephesians 1 is my favorite passage when it comes to identity.  It speaks of us as believers as being blessed, chosen, holy, blameless in His sight, predestined, loved, adopted, sons & daughters, redeemed, and forgiven.  What beautiful words to sum up what God sees when He looks at us – and that’s without us having to strive or stretch ourselves to meet any expectations or fulfill any obligations.  That’s just because of who and whose we are!  Living out scripture is always a challenge, but I find that preaching these verses over myself in a specific moment – taking my failure and, instead of holding it over my head or giving myself a hard time, reminding myself that God calls me blameless, forgiven, and redeemed, and even when I mess up, He calls me daughter.  That’s another of my favorite verses – 1 Peter 3:4 speaks directly to women about rooting their identity in the things that matter, saying “But your beauty should come from within you – the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that can never be destroyed and is very precious to God.”  This verse reassures my soul in so many ways on my worst days.  My beauty is more than my appearance.  A gentle and quiet spirit can be a beautiful thing, but it has a certain strength to it – it can never be destroyed.  And why all this?  Because my spirit is very precious to God.  What stunning truth to meditate on – and what a powerful way to define my identity.

How has God reminded you of the freedom you have when your identity is in Christ?  How does He continue to do that today?

God has put incredible people in my life to speak words of truth over me, and to encourage me to pursue Him ever greater to receive that life right from the source as well.  Through the encouragement of my friends and family, God has reminded me who He is making me to be and continued to call me into the freedom of that promise in new ways.  One thing I am continuing to wrestle with today is giving up control for the sake of freedom.  When I take it upon myself to wrestle the many facets of my life under control, it feeds a false sense of pride in my accomplishments that will eventually devastate me when failure, brokenness, and struggle inevitably comes into the picture.  Yet it’s SO tempting to get sucked into this pattern of thinking that assumes power, implies responsibility, and views my identity through a lens of self-sufficiency.  Thank goodness that God works through the little things, like a word from a friend or a bright sunny day, to simply remind me of His presence.  Sitting still in God’s presence reminds me that my carefully controlled plan is no match for the plan the Orchestrator of all of creation has for my life, and that is where freedom is found.

What is an everyday struggle for you concerning your identity and how do you combat that on a daily basis?

I am so hard on myself!  I constantly want to reshape my identity to become a “better” version of the me I was yesterday, and I have a tough time leaving the mistakes and missteps of the past behind me where they belong.  Sometimes that looks like putting extra effort into my appearance in an attempt to look put together to the rest of the world, sometimes it means working harder on an assignment ahead of time to save myself stress at the last minute (or try to).  But it’s a vicious cycle – when my perfectly straightened hair curls in the Tennessee humidity, or I get behind on other work in a desperate effort to stay on top of responsibilities for something else – I beat myself up even more, and I hold myself to an even higher standard. This is NOT the way of life that God has for us though, sweet friends!  The only way I can combat this on a daily basis is by taking off my mask of independence, capability, and confidence – one that feels good at first, but quickly lets me down and burns me out – and allow myself to be full by simply knowing that I am a daughter of God, and every day, regardless of what happened yesterday, that makes me a new creation.

If you haven’t already done so, please hop over to Rubies and check out Lexi’s post answering these very same questions!  I just can’t wait for you to read it!