Who Am I?

We often get asked identifying questions when we meet people, even in the Christian community.

What do you do for a living?

Where do you live?

What church do you go to?

While none of these questions are inherently bad, as they help us get to know a person, we have to be careful to not identify ourselves by our job or our location and instead by who we are in Christ.

This Wednesday, I didn’t publish anything. It wasn’t on accident, but it also wasn’t entirely intentional. Thanks to Tuesday’s small group, I was thinking. I was thinking about who I am and how I define myself and how I want to define myself.

For five years, I identified mainly as a wife. While that isn’t a bad thing, I lost a bit of myself when I failed to see the other parts of me. I’ve always thought I had to identify myself by my job, which is why I sought out “high level” positions–I didn’t think I’d be taken seriously if I didn’t have some sort of title. These things ended up clashing, because it ended up appearing I was choosing a profession over my relationship. When this storm hit, I felt like I had lost every aspect of my identity and I didn’t have anything to fall back on. Who was I?

A failure.

Incompetent.

Worthless.

But as I worked to pull myself out of my depression I realized I had to recreate myself (or go back to the base of who I was, really). And as I invested in my faith and my church, I began to identify myself differently.

Christian.

Loved.

Daughter of the King.

I started investing in myself then, more than I had before, finding out what I am passionate about, what my hobbies are, and how I see the world. When I did that, I saw that the person I had been wasn’t entirely who I really wanted to be. So I began identifying myself in other, new ways.

Writer.

Blogger.

Editor.

Pet parent.

Hufflepuff.

Friend.

Runner.

Beachbody coach.

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Belle & I on a stop along our road trip to Georgia.

All these new ways of identifying myself, from my faith to my external identifiers, have changed me for the better.

I was recently asked how my new job is going, and I gave the most honest answer I could: I have more confidence. It’s not just that I don’t have anxiety about always doing something wrong, though. It’s also that I am more comfortable and confident in who I am and my abilities. The job just made me see that this type of work is what is fulfilling for me and is what God has designed me to do.

So who am I? I don’t have a solid answer for that, but I’m figuring it out. So far, I like what I’ve discovered.

. . . . . .

Who are you? How do you define yourself? What brought you to that definition?

We All Do It Differently

I know that in church we are told that to spend time with God, we must pray and meditate on His Word. While I agree wholeheartedly, I also feel that spending time with God looks different for each of us.

I listen to Christian podcasts on my drive to drop Belle off at daycamp and then to work. (I navigate between Journeywoman and Proverbs 31 Ministries.) I pray in the car and periodically during my day. I am currently reading through The Middle of the Messand taking notes. Every time I go on hikes and weekend adventures with Belle, I find myself thanking the Lord for not only the ability to do those things, but also for the mere existence of Belle. I find myself just speaking with Him, saying “Jesus” over and over again. I find Him in the moments I break down in tears and unexpected peace washes over me. Sometimes I find Him in the tears. Plus, of course, I go to church every Sunday.

I try to do Bible journaling. I try to read my Bible and let it sink in and take notes. More often than not, though, I fail. I go back to the same verses I have read over the past year because of the comfort they provide me as I fight this storm. Sometimes I’ll find a new verse and write it down. Sometimes I find the verse, but I just read it a few times. Sometimes I spend a few seconds reading, sometimes more.

Unfortunately, I’ve allowed life to get in the way of spending time with Him the “right” way, but I know He is present in my every day.

I know He is there because I feel peace in moments I’m a mess on my bedroom floor. I know He is there because I can discern His voice to me in moments I am doubtful, questioning, or in distress. I know He is there because of how I have changed.

My point is this: as Christians, yes, we need to spend time with the Lord. We need to find that quiet, uninterrupted time to be with Him. But it’s okay if those moments don’t look the same for you that they do for others. We are individuals, made uniquely by Him, and He knows how we best communicate with Him. So spend time with God in the way you feel closest to Him.

It doesn’t matter how you spend time with Him. What matters is that you do.

I Want A Refund

Adulting is hard.

If I had known it would be this hard when I was kid, I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up so quickly. I wouldn’t have desired the responsibility and “coolness” that came with being a grown up. If I had really known what awaited after college, I might not have been in such a hurry.

If I had really known what having a full-time job was like, I might have enjoyed my downtime more. I might have gone more places, done more things, on my days off. Now I feel like I have such a limited amount of time to do all the things I want to do. Now I’m tired all the time.

There’s a lot of things that if I could have known the future, I would have done things differently.

If you had told me this season, this hardship, would lead me to a new church, I would have never believed you. If you had told me it would lead me to new friends, I would have laughed (then cried) in your face. If you had told me it would allow me to grow in myself and my faith, I would have never believed you.

And yet…here I am. This season has caused me to do a lot of firsts and a lot of discovery (and re-discovery). That is how I know God is there–because even in this storm, He has blessed me.

If I had really known what all this was going to cost, would it have really changed anything? I don’t know. We can’t live in hypotheticals and unanswerable questions. But I do know this: I may not have known what it would cost, but I think I got more than I thought I would.

So maybe I don’t want a refund after all.

Introduce Yourself

I almost didn’t go to small group this week. I have been tired from working a full time writing job and beginning another (and my last) semester of teaching. And a few of my friends had said they couldn’t make it. So my excuses were pretty abundant. But I went anyway, and I’m really glad I did.

My church celebrated our first birthday this past Sunday, and we shared a few videos of individuals who had found our church and what the year had meant to them. In honor of that, my small group decided to share our stories of how we came to find our church.

I have shared my story with friends and at my previous small group, and since a few people from my previous small group are in this group, I didn’t want to “bore” them. I also don’t want to feel like people pity me–I’ve felt that enough in the past year, and it makes me feel even more ostracized. But soon enough, one person sharing turned into another, and we were suddenly going around the circle. As the person next to me spoke, I kept thinking just say “pass,” but when she finished–and there was an appropriate pause–I found myself sharing.

As I listened to others’ stories, I started to realize that knowing their stories is a vital component of getting to know them. Sharing stories makes us vulnerable, and that can be genuinely tough and nerve-wracking because we are baring a bit of our soul, but vulnerability is a big part of establishing community. If we are not honest and open with our community, we aren’t really in community; it’s only a facade. Telling our stories is important–they are our testimony, they showcase our “why,” and give us opportunity to build honest relationships.

So, take some time to introduce yourself. What do you blog about and why? What gets you going? What made you want to blog? What does blogging mean to you? How did you come across blogging? Is it a career for you or is it just something you do to share your story and let others know they are not alone?

God uses our stories. What’s yours?

 

 

 

 

Searching For Home

One of my biggest complaints to my husband used to be “it doesn’t feel like home.” It’s why I wanted to move apartments and even states. To him, I’m sure it felt like I could never be satisfied with what we had. To me, it felt like we were missing something, like I was missing something.

Yesterday my church celebrated our first birthday. One year ago, I walked into that church looking for hope, with a deep despair in my heart. The instant I walked in, something felt right. The minute the pastor began his message, I knew I would stay. In his message yesterday, he said that it was the first place he and his wife had felt at home. That sentiment was echoed in the videos of others talking about their year at the church. And my pen started writing almost without me thinking.

Maybe I was searching for a place to call home when really my heart was missing something else: God. 

It didn’t matter where we were, I always felt out of place. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because I hadn’t truly accepted God for who He is: an ever faithful, never changing, good Father and Protector. I was searching for a place–and my husband–to give me a feeling that neither could ever satisfy. I needed to go to the source.

The reason I can say that so confidently now is because I would never have pictured myself where I am–not in this city, not in my personal situation, not even in my job. Yet, I feel more at peace, more content, than I have in a very long time. This church feels like home because God is there, but more because I have accepted who Christ is in my life.

Whatever you may be facing, no earthly thing will give you reprieve, will fill a hole, will make you feel like you’re home. But God can. Jesus can. He is our Savior and Protector.

Who do you say Jesus is?

“Ohana means family…”

“…and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” — Lilo & Stitch

With Hurricane Florence making landfall this week, there are already a number of stories about animals, from animals being left behind to strangers going into the storm to rescue animals. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know I love animals. My two cats and dog are like children to me, and I would do absolutely anything to keep them safe.

If you need to evacuate, then you need to evacuate your entire family–including your pets.

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Photo courtesy of skeeze on Pixabay

The PETS Act is an amendment to the Stafford Act that is supposed to take into consideration the needs of individuals and families who have household pets and/or service animals prior to, during, and after a disaster event. However, many people with animals refuse to evacuate because shelters will not accept pets. (I understand this mentality as I share it, but evacuation is a necessity.) Others leave their pets behind because they don’t think they have another choice. (I’m far less okay with these people.) The way I see it, then, there are two possibilities here: either the PETS Acts is not being followed during disaster events or areas that experience disaster events are not effectively communicating to the public where animal-friendly shelters are located.

If faced with a mandatory evacuation, you do what is necessary to keep yourself and your pets safe. For me, if I had to evacuate, I would put both cats into Belle’s kennel with a litterbox, get Belle’s leash on, grab their necessities, and go. I would sleep in my car if it meant keeping them safe and with me. I am that person that would not stay at a shelter if that shelter did not let me keep my animals.

I believe God has blessed me with being the caretaker of these three beings, and I would never dream of doing anything to jeopardize them. To me, they are more than animals. Their lives are no less important simply because they do not speak the same language or communicate in the same way. It is still a life.

If you have been blessed to be the caretaker of an animal, you owe it to them to keep them safe. Your animal has loved you and trusted you–don’t betray them.

 

Submission Is Not A Dirty Word

There–I said it. Really, the statement is for me, but I hope you find solace in it too. It’s taken me a long time to realize this, and it’s taken this storm to realize I wasn’t doing it.

I was listening to one of my Christian podcasts–Journeywomen–this morning. The most recent episode is on submission, and I really felt like God meant for me to hear it today. One of the concepts that stuck out to me was in the midst of the discussion on submitting to husbands: submission does not mean inferiority.

I think it is often the case that when us 21st century, independent Christian women hear “wives, submit to your husbands,” we mistake it for “wives, you are inferior to your husbands.” I hated that verse because of that connotation. But that is not the case. The process of submission involves communication and joint decision-making.

I’ve realized I did not submit to my husband–I fought him tooth and nail on just about everything, including, unfortunately, the calling he felt he had–because if it wasn’t my way, it was wrong. But that isn’t true–just because it’s not how I thought it would be doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

There is nothing wrong with being an independent Christian woman. Independence means not relying on anyone but Christ for your joy, including your spouse. It means knowing who you are in Christ and finding comfort, peace, and meaning in that knowledge. Independence means not being co-dependent.

And the way we do that is through submission. When we submit to God and His will for our lives, we find peace, meaning, and independence. When we submit to our husbands, we find it easier to navigate the ups and downs of life and marriage and our family roles can become more defined and better fit who we are in the Lord.

For me, not submitting to God or my husband meant I felt the need to control everything, and I felt like I was doing everything–from the everyday managing of a household to the spiritual upkeep. I hardly, if ever, allowed my husband the opportunity to lead, let alone figure out what it looked like for us.

The past few days have been a bit emotional for me, and I don’t think it’s coincidence I felt compelled to listen to that episode this morning. So, if allowed the opportunity, I want to submit. Now that I have a better understanding of what submitting to the Lord looks like, I can translate that better to submitting to my husband.

I’m going to try not cringe when I hear the verse about submitting to husbands or when I hear “submission” in general. I’m going to continue to strive to submit everything I am to God.

And I hope that, if you did before, you don’t cringe when you hear “submission.” Because it’s not a bad thing. It is the best thing.

. . . . . .

Do you struggle with submission? What does submission look like for you? How do you work to be in submission to the Lord?