People talk about mid-life and quarter-life crises of identity, usually filled with flashy new cars, plastic surgery, job changes, or new hair-do’s. But, I’ve been through at least a dozen or so noticeable identity crises in my adult life, and they’ve all come in moments or seasons of struggle.
It’s in the moments of struggle that we feel frail, and human. We don’t feel so invincible anymore. Those facades and masks that we thought would bring meaning, are looking so flimsy right now.
It’s easy to find identity in a lot of different things: jobs, positions, marital status, parental status, denomination, volunteer roles, color of grass in our front yards, and on and on. Our first-world lifestyle makes it easy for us to find identity in anything other than God himself. And, sometimes those identities we cling to are technically “good” things. In fact, they’re things that many Christ-followers focus hours and hours of energy on and hold in high regard. Friends, church, marriage, family, and jobs are all good things, but when we are focused on the acceptance and roles within these circles more than on Christ, it becomes a problem.
It’s easy to do.
But, I’ve found that in moments of struggle, these “good” places I’m clinging to for identity have been stripped away. Perhaps I’m alone in this. Perhaps I’m not. When struggles come, it seems that some sort of false identity is stripped away in the process. Some struggles have stripped away any man-made confidence in other human beings. Other struggles have stripped away the authority I had put on my local churches process or viewpoint. Other struggles have stripped me of the picture of what “they” say my life, or my marriage, or my family should look like.
The common thread has been that I’ve had some identity crisis that accompanies each season of struggle.
“This breaking of you will be the making of you.” - Lysa Terkeurst
The phrase identity crisis only tells half of the story, though, because in each struggle I’ve been pointed back to the place where my identity should’ve been all along: Christ alone. After all of those “good” things I had put my trust and hope in had been stripped away, each time, I was reminded that my value, my worth, my purpose was all supposed to be in Jesus ALONE all along.
You know those times when you hear a phrase, and you just know you’ll never forget it? Bob Goff has a phrase that will stick with me for my entire life: “Jesus, plus nothing.” As I look back through all of the seasons of struggle, I can see that they point me back to this concept. Jesus is my all. Jesus is my identity. Jesus is my gauge. Jesus, plus nothing more.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Now, my brain starts to hurt if I go down the rabbit hole of if struggles are allowed or initiated, but I like to instead focus on the things that I do know deep in my core.
I do know struggles exist in my life, and in others’ lives as well. I’ve seen them, felt them, and even tasted those salty tears.
I do know that struggles have bared my soul down to the most basic point. I’ve felt lonely, betrayed, bewildered, exhausted, and hopeless.
I do know that Jesus is my authority. I look to Him.
So, while I can’t look you in the eye and say that I enjoy the struggle. In fact, I’ll be pretty raw and real with you (if you really care to know) about how the struggle actually is. I can’t always find much to say that is pretty and rosy and “nice” in the moment. But, what I can always see is my Savior holding me close. And, that little glimmer of a beautiful Savior is enough for me to say with hope that there IS beauty in the struggle.
“God holds us in the untamed moments.” - Ann Voskamp
Even if you feel like your day has nothing redeeming from it, you can feel good about this meal. It’s full of superfoods, gluten free, dairy free, and is great as leftovers! Oh, and despite being so healthy, it actually has a lot of great flavor too!
Chicken Quinoa Stir Fry: http://www.food.com/recipe/chicken-sweet-potato-and-quinoa-stir-fry-474446
Just as diamonds form from the pressure put on an uglier piece of carbon, so we too, are being formed into something beautiful.
“under this pressure under this weight
we are diamonds taking shape”
Father, show us our true identity, whether that be in times of struggle or times or joy. Show us the good things in our life that we may be placing too much importance upon. Show us the things in our life, good as they may be, that are getting in between our relationship with you. May we be truly satisfied in YOU, plus nothing else.
“When life is overwhelming, call me to Sabbath moments.” - Pat Bergen
Sometimes social media is not the best thing for us when life is hard. Everyone else’s life looks so much better than ours, right? Consider taking a sabbatical from social media when you’re in a season of struggle, allowing you to focus on what God has for you right now, rather than coveting the lives of others.