Take out a sheet of paper. At the top of it write, “Who I am in Christ” then start recording the truth you already know. Most believers can fill this space in an impressive way. Especially if someone has been a Christian for a while, they usually have a good idea of things they can write here.
Then look at your list and consider, “Where do you struggle to truly embrace these truths at the heart level?” Like…
I am the daughter of an all-powerful almighty King who can do anything and who cares deeply for me and already knows the future… so why am I struggling with anxiety?
Or I’m forgiven, holy, blameless in Christ who’s promised all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes… so why do I beat myself up so badly when I blow it?
I’ve been chosen to be a part of the family of God and adopted into it forever… so why can I feel like I don’t belong?
It’s one thing to know these facts in your head. How are they being lived out in your life?
Three years ago I put together an online art journal course based on Jerry Bridges’ book Who Am I? Art journaling through that book was life changing, truly helping me embrace on a deeper level truths I’d known for years to be true but struggled to live out. it really did make a difference in my life!
But taking time to process through this exercise I realized, while I had grown tremendously in this arena of trusting God with who He says I am, I still have quite a ways to go to fully rest in these truths.
I cried out to the Lord, “Please take me deeper! Would you uncover what’s hindering me? What’s holding me back from truly resting in these truths in a life impacting way?”
The Lord loves to answer such prayers! ;0)
Enter shame. I never dreamed how pervasive it was in my life until I started to read Dr. Curt Thompson’s book The Soul of Shame. And I was thrilled to discover how learning to recognize shame was helping me not be emotionally hijacked!
But I didn’t make the shame-identity connection until a few months ago when I was hosting a group of women from my church for a movie night. We were watching The Princess Diaries together to discuss the challenges we face embracing our identity as daughters of the King. I’ve hosted movie discussion nights like this for years. But this time… I suddenly realized every struggle we were observing and discussing had its roots in shame!
As I shared in the last post, we were created to have our identity based in God. He is the one who created us! His works are wonderful! And that includes us! His wisdom and power and love are evidenced in all He creates. All He creates is good!
In his book, Dr. Curt Thompson reveals shame isn’t just the consequence of sin, but a key factor that led to sin occurring in the first place. Eve and Adam were in a garden filled with trees featuring fruit good for food and pleasing to their eyes. Why would they ever want to eat from this forbidden tree?
The enemy, like many marketers today, had to create a need, a desire and he did that through shame’s message, “I am not enough.” Not only did the enemy contradict God “You will not die!” but he made Eve think she needed something else in addition to what God had given her – his subtle questions and statements convinced her the way God made her wasn’t enough, but this fruit was “desirable for gaining wisdom…” so she could “be like God.” (yep, trade her identity for another one! “It’s not enough to be you, you need to be like…!”)
When they reached out for that fruit, they weren’t just hungry, but seeking to be something other than what God created them to be. And it totally destroyed the way they saw themselves and each other!
That “wisdom” Eve and Adam gained, resulted in them losing their original identities and in the process losing their true selves.
This is why our new identity starts with being in Christ. We have opportunity to step back into what our original parents stepped out of… an identity founded wholly in God and this is all because of Jesus! He paid dearly to make this possible! But unlike Adam and Eve, we have to learn to embrace what’s true after years of basing our identity on other, worthless things. Hence the struggle. It is not easy to truly embrace your identity in Christ!
You can’t just memorize a verse or even a bunch of verses and get it. You don’t replace years of thinking and living one way with some quick cerebral action. And of course the battle still rages and the same deceiver is at work trying to keep us from entering the rest Jesus already paid so dearly to make available to us.
Walking by faith isn’t a cake walk, but a struggle every. single. day. But there is so much hope for growth in this!!! And what’s really incredible is we actually end up getting it even better than Adam and Eve – as Jesus said, “whoever is forgiven little loves little!” (Luke 7:47) Do you realize the more you struggle to embrace your true identity in Christ in the midst of the battle while you’re still blowing it, you are going to appreciate and love Jesus even more for the amazing, wonderful, off the charts painful and costly things he endured and did to make your true identity possible!
Dr. Curt Thompson explains about shame a thousand times better than I ever could. I highly recommend art journaling your way through his book!!! If you’d like to see how I’ve been doing this check out www.inherentlyworthy.com
I like to end my time with people when we’re considering this, having them imagine what it would look like, the beauty and the benefit, if they truly embraced in the depths of their heart who they are in Christ. How would their lives look and be different?
Can considering this ever spur you on to dive into the battle, to struggle to keep growing in embracing this. It will be one of the hardest battles you’ll ever fight. But as a fellow struggler, in the thick of it right now, I am finding it is so worth it!