Slut. After all, I’m an unwed mother. People see the child, but they don’t see what happened around that time, and it’s clear, sometimes people look at me differently because I had a child out of wedlock. I can see where people would think that…
Imprisoned. I’m trapped in my sins, aren’t I? It seems like every time I break the cycle of a sin– anger, impurity, anything– I just get trapped in the same cycle again. Is it something I can break? I don’t know. I think I’m just trapped.
Stupid. What’s wrong with me? Why am I so dumb sometimes, I can’t see something right in front of me? Am I that naive, that dumb?
I label myself. A lot. And it’s usually not pretty. I’ve formed these identities. It’s the things I hear in my head when I’m falling asleep, the words that repeat themselves when I think “Why don’t I have a spouse?” “Ugh, you don’t think my job is legitimate? Are you kidding me? I work my butt off!” “I totally lost it again and yelled… seriously, though, am I just destined to be trapped in this cycle of anger and frustration forever?”
What I didn’t realize, however, is that in doing so, I’m doing something even more dangerous than just hurting my self esteem.
I’m playing God.
I may never have said it, or intended it… but when I’m accepting a name for myself or a word for myself that is less than the word or identity that God has for me, I’m taking over for Him. I’m saying, “God, you don’t know me. You don’t have an identity that suits me. I’ve got one better.” I’m saying, basically,
God, I know more than you know. I’m smarter than you are.
That’s a serious problem! Saying that I am unworthy, stupid, expendable, alone, hopeless, a loser, unlovable, powerless,defeated, that’s not what God has in mind for me!
And the worst part is, it doesn’t just affect how I feel about me. It isn’t just about my own personal self-image.
It affects every relationship I have… my friendships, my family, my job. When I’m struggling in my relationships, it all boils down to the fact that I am struggling with God. Anytime I’m saying that I am less than God’s plan for me, I’m struggling with him… and it’s messing up how I interact with other people.
I’m not the only one who does this, though. You do this, most likely. I’m willing to bet at one point or another, at some time in each of your lives, my readers, the people I go to church with, my family, my friends, and pretty much everyone I know, has had an identity that they’ve accepted, a hat they’ve put on, a name they’ve called themselves, that is less than what God has for them.
You know who else wrestled with God?
Jacob. Genesis 32:24 says “This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until dawn began to break.” Hosea 12:3 makes it clear that this man he struggled with was God when it says “Even in the womb, Jacob struggled with his brother; when he became a man, he even fought with God.”
Jacob fought with God. They wrestled. And God took Jacob’s old Identity– Liar. Manipulator. Deceiver. Thief.– and he gave him a brand new one, a brand new name, Israel, meaning “Prince.” He took someone who identified as a thief, a manipulator, just a bad dude, and made him into the Child of a King.
God is willing to do that to us, too. We can wrestle with him, struggle with our identity, try to replace His view with our own, but in the end, God has a plan and a name for us. I’m a Princess. You’re a Prince or Princess. We are HIS children.
But it isn’t always that easy. It’s not always as easy as accepting what God has for us.
God often presents change through hardship. Sometimes, he leaves a permanent reminder of our struggle with our identity in Him. For example, Jacob’s story in Genesis 32:25 continues with God wrenching his hip out of socket! After that, Jacob walked with a limp! Like, long-term!
Sometimes, we have that reminder. That hardship. But you know what I think? I think it’s worth it.
God has something new in mind for me. I’m determined to pursue the new, to receive the blessing God and God alone has for me.
I took this image at the beach this summer, and it represents God’s creation to me. It really does– this photo helps me fully grasp the beauty of God’s creation, and it helps me see that I can be a beautiful creation in Him, too. So, I added this verse about God doing SOMETHING NEW in me to remind me of the newness of the creation that I am.
I was reading Zach the story of Adam from his Children’s Bible as part of our school lessons. It talked about how we are made In God’s Image, and when we’re made in his Image, it means we’re as close to the original as possible– that God made us to be like Him in a lot of ways.
If I look at God as being amazing beyond imagination… why don’t I see myself as something good, too? If God created me good, why don’t I believe that?
Matthew West says it really well in this song… check it out.
I just really believe that God is doing something new in my life. I believe he is doing something new in your life, too.
Tell me in the comments below, what are the false names that you call yourself that are less than what God has for you? What do you think of the idea that God is doing something new in your life? Are you willing to go through hardship to become a new creation in God? (Or don’t tell me in the comments– this is pretty personal. Feel free to share below, or think about it, or write it down at home, or something! I just encourage you to interact with these verses somehow).
Parts of this post were heavily inspired by a sermon given by Pastor John Marra at Living Hope Church. You can learn more about Living Hope Church at http://www.livinghopekc.org. If you’re in the Kansas City area, I’d love for you to join us for Sunday Services at 10:30am.