Tag Archives: identity

A Season of Socks?

I got a lot of socks this Christmas.

Socks are one of those Christmas gifts that get a lot of attention because of their disappointing nature. With the exception of something like a plunger, socks are one of the most lackluster, practical gifts you can get. When they’re in competition with literally any other gift, socks seem to lose every time. The younger the recipient, the more likely the loss.

In fact, the only reason that my privileged self was excited about getting socks this Christmas is because, at twenty-three and living in the Midwest, I see the value of keeping my feet warm. And when you work part-time for a church, socks can quickly become a luxury item that eats away at your budget.

What do socks have to do with anything? I think, and stay with me on this, that these next two months are season of getting “socks” from the Lord.

If you know me or are following the story, you know that I submitted an application that, at least at this point, the current plan for my future is dependent on. By early November, I had confirmation, on all sides, about specific, future missions work. Not only was it confirmation from the missions organization and the city’s current team, but it seemed like consistent confirmation Lord. Believe me when I say I’m ready to go. Perhaps even more than just “going,” I’m ready for clarity. I’m ready to move forward in the plans of the Lord, regardless of what they end up looking like.

But I can’t.

My hands are tied until at least the end of January, more likely the beginning of March.

There’s nothing else to process or pray about. The search for confirmation and discernment has been called off. There’s nothing else for me to do but wait. I’m living the epitome of “it’s out of my hands and all up to Jesus.”

I was praying, admittedly from a place of impatience, the other night. I found myself a little disoriented, fumbling around my Scripture reading and worship, in light of the question-heavy nature of my relationship with Jesus these past few months. All the sudden there was nothing to ask, no specific thread that needed pressing into.

This time is a gift, Maddie.

“Okay, sure. All my time with you is a gift, Lord. Times of waiting are always a gift.” I brushed it off. Believe me when I say that I’ve done seasons of waiting with the Lord before. But then again:

This time is a gift, Maddie.

Since the summer, my prayers have revolved around questions of missions and calling.

Come March 2, regardless of the outcome of the application, the reality of my life will resurface that.

But for two months, there aren’t questions driving my spiritual life. Everything is in a rhythm (or out of my hand). And here is Jesus, saying that this time is a gift.

 

It was only after a Holy-Spirit-inspired revelation, after I heard my answer to a friend’s “how are you doing” inquisition, that I got it. That I realized that He’s giving me a season of socks – and how simple that may seem, but how necessary it really is.

My answer to a simple “how are you doing” revolved around the future, my waiting, the application, and missions. It seems innocent enough but, without realizing it, I had linked what I may be doing with how I actually am. Those are two very different things, and they are both grasping for control of my soul and identity.

The reality of who I am in Christ had become dangerously muddled with what He’s leading me into. Season that force me to ask questions about work, calling, vocation, and ability run that risk. It is so easy for my identity to get tied up in my circumstances when, realistically, those are the things that I need the Lord to speak into. I know that in March the temptation will return to sync my identity with what I’m doing and what God is calling me to.

But, for two months, He’s all but removed that temptation.

He’s giving me a gift that is practical and necessary, however lackluster it may appear. I need a season, regardless of how short, of re-learning what it means to just be Jesus’. Because He loves me, is for me, and is good. Full stop.

I need to be reminded of what God thinks of me and what it means to be with Him, irrespective of anything else.

I’m not saying that I’m 100% sold on this “gift of socks season.” It’s a hard sell that waiting is the greatest thing in the world. Like with socks, I appreciate them a little more than I might have five years ago, but there are other gifts that I think I’d prefer. But that’s why He’s the Giver, and I’m not.

Because what could be better, what could be more necessary, than the gift of just being His?

Stop complaining and put on the socks, Maddie. Enjoy this time of learning what it means to just be with me. To be loved by me. If my love for you never went beyond this, right here, knowing that I love you, it would be enough. I want this to be a time that you look back on when the demands are a lot, when you forget that I don’t see you as “faithful servant” first. There’s nothing that you can do these next two months, nothing you have answers to, no spectacular story to share, nothing that makes you look spiritual. So find me when you feel like you have little to give, when your faith feels small. I’ve wired your for things and set about my plans in your life, which you follow in costly obedience, but Maddie, what you were ultimately built for was just to be mine. I want to teach you about the consistency of my nature in a season where I’ve given you little else to hold onto. You may not know what I’m doing, but you know who I am. You may not know what you are doing, but know who you are. Let me remind you of exactly who you are. 

My Dual Identity

It’s one thing to say that my identity is in the Lord. It’s another to actually walk in that. It’s yet another thing to begin fully grasping at what that exactly means. Jesus has been clear in these past few weeks that there are two pieces to who I am in Him. What’s more, I so easily confuse the two; it’s humbling and convicting to realize how much of what I perceive as my identity is actually deeply rooted and a little backwards

On one hand, I am (or strive to be) the good and faithful servant. It’s the Matthew 25 or Luke 19 principle, the master’s praise to the hard-working, mindful, selfless servant. There are countless verses and stories that detail our call to obedience: to love the hurting, feed the hungry, share the Gospel, shelter the homeless, fight against injustice. To do for the least of these and imitate Christ. After all Luke 12:48 makes it clear that if we’ve been given much, much will be expected. We are called to obedience, to follow the Lord into hard things, to love our neighbors and lay down our lives. My prayer becomes “Lord, let me be faithful in all that you’ve given me” – whether big or small (which, in and of itself is really just my hierarchical perception of what “big” and “small” even mean). I want to be found faithful in my commitment to the Lord and to loving His people, regardless of the cost. And that’s a good, biblical, God-glorifying thing.

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However, when I start or end with my identity as a good and faithful servant, while partially true, I err in terms of living into who God actually and fully says that I am.

Because first and last, I am the beloved. I am only able to love because He first loved me, irrespective of anything I’ve done or deserved. I’m called beautiful and whole by the one who’s very body was broken for my redemption. It’s the childhood truth of Jesus’ love for us that comes not by anything we preempted or for anything other than the fact that He simply loves us. Except it’s not simple, because this love is deeper and stronger than we will ever comprehend; no human love even comes close to measuring the love through which God sees us. The only reason I can even think about leaning into my identity as a faithful servant is because I’m doing it out of a place of being unequivocally loved by Faithfulness Himself.

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I don’t know that the church has always done a good job at explaining the relationship between justification and sanctification, or our place as both faithful servant (sanctification) and child of God (justification). Believing that I’m simply the beloved seems to negate the command for obedience, for love of neighbor, and for service. It trivializes or minimizes everything I’ve ever done, sacrificed, or stepped into on account of the Lord. And if it doesn’t mean anything, I’m not super compelled to continue walking into costly obedience.

That’s the tension we are asked to navigate everyday – because being good and faithful servant does matter. It matters a whole lot. We please the heart of God when we walk in tandem with His Spirit. We are called to follow Him, to die to self, and care for others. However, the tension comes when we realize that we can never start with that. That can never be the whole foundation of our identity. Because if base who we are in being a good and faithful servant, we inevitably come back to a view of God’s love that makes sense, something that we control. “I know God loves me . . . after all, how could He not when I’m so clearly following Him?” It no longer becomes the whole, pervasive, inexplicable love of the Father but the kind of love we can earn, maintain, and understand. The kind of love that feels comfortable and makes us feel worthy.

I feel like the mental shift should be easy: I am beloved first, faithful servant second. Both necessitate one another. However, I think that this tension will likely take a lifetime to master. Because being beloved, for as beautiful and amazing as it is, carries with it some fearful connotations.

We know that perfect love casts out fear, but the fact of the matter is that my only concept for love is human love. For as much amazing human love as I’ve experienced, it has not been without failures, heartbreaks, and conditions. If I lean fully into the eternal, incomprehensible love of God for me, I inherently strip myself of any control. It becomes this wholehearted trust in the heart of God for me, that it will never fail or diminish. That none of how He sees me is contingent on what I do or don’t do. And even though my theology tells me that nothing can separate me from His love, the questions still seem to arise in my heart from my flawed, fleshly concept of love. Because what if I’m too messy? What if I lean into being beloved and then He gets disappointed in me? What if I’m not good enough for the Lord or He decides He doesn’t want me anymore? What does it mean if my obedience isn’t changing His view of me, isn’t earning me more favor in His sight?

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He’s pleased with me as His faithful servant, but He loves me as simply His daughter.

I think that’s a dichotomy worth wresting with, since it has everything to do with who we are, how we approach life, ministry, and the posture with which we go before God. I’ll probably be wrestling with it for the rest of my life.

Crying in a Coffee Shop

The other day one of my roommates and I were sitting at Blackberry Market, our post 2:00 class decision to hang out and pretend to do homework. It’s like the Holy Spirit decided to meet me in the midst of the lemonade I’d been craving all day and a rainy day coffee shop. Why He chooses these moments, I’ll never know. As conversation topics rolled into reading a devotional together, the tears quickly surfaced. What the heck. I promise, I don’t plan on crying as often as I do. It’s not like I plan to have these heart-to-hearts with Jesus and the people in my life, they just kind of happen. Pretty soon we were both crying and laughing and sharing the hot cinnamon roll in front of us.

After our verbal processing session, a quick run to Target, and some literal running on the indoor track of our gym, I went to drive my car back to our apartment only to find that my key wouldn’t unlock the car. The unlock button wouldn’t work and I couldn’t get the key to turn in the door. What the heck. . .again. I found myself on a long walk back to my apartment to get the other set of keys. A long, rainy, cold walk to the apartment and then back to the car. A walk through puddles that I’m pretty sure could be classified as small sized ponds. My sneakers are still wet y’all. Needless to say, the Lord and I had a pretty honest conversation through the rain and my chattering teeth. To give you a glimpse into the state of my heart last night, I may or may not have said out loud: “well maybe Your plan for me is to just get hypothermia from being out here and then I’ll die. At least then I don’t even have to worry about any of this stuff you are asking me to deal with! I wouldn’t have to wrestle with questions of who I am or have to trust you with my future. And I wouldn’t be wet or cold anymore!”

Did I mention that I don’t ever plan for these things to happen to me? They just kind of do, leaving me shaking my head and sometimes my fists but always marveling at the means the Lord uses to draw me back to Himself.

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These moments didn’t lead to some profound realization. They were just simple, unplanned moments where I met the Lord. Moments where He revealed pieces of my heart that I hadn’t been willing to look at. I realized that old fears had resurfaced. Old identity issues had came back up. There were things I thought that I’d worked through, until the Enemy snuck them back in and I’m reminded yet again of the lifelong battle that we fight.

It’s nothing new. These questions of am I enough? And more than that, is Jesus enough?

Am I enough in the midst of my sins and recurring struggles? The circumstances I can point to where I’ve obviously failed in loving the people around me? The ways I’ve failed to guard my thoughts and submit my desires for sanctification in the Lord? Am I enough for the things He’s calling me to that I feel incredibly unprepared for?

But then again. . .is He enough for the uncomfortable, challenging things He calls me to? Enough for the moments when I feel painfully alone? Enough for the sins that, despite the disciplines and fighting on my part, seem to have no problem resurfacing? Enough for every hope and desire of my heart?

Obviously, I know the answer to every one of those questions. I’m guessing you do too. I know the Scripture that combats every one of the questions. But just because I know doesn’t mean that I won’t forget. It doesn’t mean that I don’t need these moments in a coffee shop or in the rain where the Lord reminds me of who I am and who He is. It doesn’t mean I’m falling apart or that I’ve somehow failed Him again. It means I’m human. It means I’m in need of His grace. It means I’m still living in a broken world where the Enemy can still lie to me. It means there will never be a day where I don’t need to proclaim truth to my heart.

The truth that I am beloved. He is for me. He is near me. He is enough.

Reflections on Writing

A couple days ago (I think it was when I was finishing an Internet Cafe devotional at 11:55pm), I had this idea. 25 days of blogging. One blog post a day until Christmas. Force myself to blog everyday and do it during the 25 days that will include finals, a roommate moving out, my 21st birthday, and Christmas in a new home. It was quite the late-night idea. Honestly, I didn’t think it would stick. Yet, here we are.

The thing is, I love writing. I’ve always loved writing. I remember being asked to write a short paragraph in third grade and when I came home, I wrote eight more pages. I’ve filled probably fifteen journals over the years. It’s never because anyone made me or even because anyone was telling me that I was good enough for it – I have always written because it’s a part of who I am.

I’m always thinking deeply and I am constantly searching for ways to put what I’m feeling into words. I don’t really write for anything other than my own necessity.

But like with anything in life that is a part what refreshes us, it can become so easily confused and wrapped up in our identity. Half the time my lack of blog posts is not because I don’t have anything to say, but rooted in my own fears. I worry that it’s not good enough. That I haven’t said things eloquently enough. I worry that I’m not good enough. No one probably even cares to read what I write, so what’s the point?

The point is that writing draws me closer to the heart of Jesus. It brings clarity to things that were previously jumbled up in my head. More than that, blogging forces me to connect the pieces of what is happening in my life and what I see Jesus doing with the truth of who He is. For as much as I love journaling, let’s be real – there’s no accountability in it. Granted, that’s part of the beauty of journaling; it’s me and Jesus and all my raw, broken, messy pieces. Yet there’s a fine line between that being beautiful and necessary and very dangerous for my soul. When I make myself write in a way that is grounded in Scripture and celebrates the things Jesus is doing, with authenticity and honesty, I am always refreshed. When I do it on a platform that forces me to fight the lies of insecurity, fear, and the Enemy in my head that say “you aren’t good enough,” I am empowered.

That’s why I’ve decided to do twenty-five days of blogging up to Christmas. Somedays it might be short. Someday it might be long. Some posts may be deep, some not so much. I’ll probably miss a few days and I’ll learn, yet again, what it means to show myself the kind of grace that Christ lavishes on me (and others).

I don’t know that anyone even really read this blog. I don’t know that anyone will think that anything I post in the next 25 days is valuable. That’s ok. I’m not really writing for anything other than the renewal of my soul and the glory of the Lord. The way He chooses to get glory is His prerogative anyway, whether that’s speaking to lots of people or simply choosing to change my heart.

So here’s to 25 blank drafts, 25 days of craziness, unknowns, and endings, and 25 days of pressing into Jesus!

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When I Said Your Glory, Not Mine. . .did I mean it?

Y’all, it’s honesty time. Something came up in the past few days where I should’ve gotten credit and didn’t. It wasn’t even a big deal. But as soon as I realized that everyone was going to be celebrating something without knowing that I was the sweet, caring, eloquent, thoughtful, spiritual one behind it, a little… Read more. . .

The Second Time Around

It’s been a whirlwind two weeks, y’all. Packing, goodbyes, an 11 hour drive, several hours of moving in, more goodbyes, hellos, HoneyRock camp leadership camp, diakonoi training week, more hellos, making new best friends. It’s been a lot different than the first time around; I was so overwhelmed the first time I left for Wheaton. I… Read more. . .

On Encouragement.

“He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them… Read more. . .

Don’t Be Harder on Yourself Than Jesus Is

Everything comes full circle. I titled this post almost a year ago and then saved the blank draft, hoping the words in my head would translate onto the page over the next few days. They never did. But after weeks of a relentless attack on my identity, I think I get what I was feeling before.… Read more. . .