I got slapped in the face by an email this past Monday morning. I don’t know about you, but I totally love certain e-mail newsletters. I have my routine almost every morning (yes, I’m a bit OCD). I get into work, I log into my computer, I fill up my water bottle and peel my hard boiled egg (hello I need more protein in my life), and then I check my emails. Delete all the junk,
shop the sales…try to avoid the sales, answer blog emails, and read my newsletters. The two that are my most consistent every morning are a daily devotion from Proverbs 31 ministries, and my news intake from The Skimm. You can also throw in some sports news from The Daily Rally every once in awhile. I recently discovered two new newsletters though that are the bookends of my week. “The Monday Club” to start it, and “Girls Night In” to end it.
This Monday though, Hannah gave me a good hard slap. I don’t even think she intended to. She was simply writing down her story to share. She was simply sharing her experiences. But…if you’re anything like me, experiences is where you learn the most. Listening to others life stories is where I relate to them. Hearing what they have been through and comparing it to my own circumstances is how I empathize. I can visualize what things must have been like, put myself in their shoes, and try to imagine how they felt. Maybe that’s where my compassion comes from. Experience is what I learn through, what makes me think, and what challenges my views.
So what did Hannah share that hit me so hard, you ask? She shared about writing her first book and what happened inside her once it was completed and published. She talked about how her identity became “the girl who was writing the book” and she hadn’t even realized that she was hiding behind it. She said that “[she ] hoped it would change everything and [she] would get to hide inside of that identity forever.”
Then she posed the question to us. That maybe we have put our identity in something like that.
“Maybe you’ve experienced this before? You become so known for something that it’s all people ask you about. When they ask you anything else, you sort of feel like a fish out of water. You crave the conversations where you’ll be admired. You rest your worth in something that was never meant to fix you or fill you. This was me.”
So even pausing right there while reading through this weeks “Monday Club” is a hard question. It makes you stop and ponder.
What are you putting your identity in? What is the thing you feel most comfortable talking about?
Maybe it isn’t something you feel like you’ll be admired for (mine isn’t if you keep reading), or maybe it isn’t your worth, but it could still be your identity. It still makes you feel whole or completed.
But she didn’t stop there…I didn’t want to talk about identity with y’all today. She sets it up with this paragraph talking about once her book was finished.
“Gone from my everyday life, I didn’t know what to do with myself and so I rested my hope in what would happen when that book of mine would come out. I thought my life would change. I thought my problem areas would go away. I thought maybe I would be a different person because, after all, I’d worked so hard.”
Which makes me start to think, “oh gosh I do that”…how often do we wait for something that we expect to change our life? And I know people, I know. This seems trivial and stupid because we hear about this all the time. We are supposed to “stop and smell the roses” and to “live in the now.” Even in sermons we hear that certain things can’t complete us; only the Lord can do that. All of this is good and true but yet here I am…and maybe you are here too. And it isn’t intentional and I honestly didn’t think I was doing it!
I truly am content with where the Lord has me. It’s not what I expected, but I’m here. The Lord is good and He has a plan. Two truths I hold to and I believe. I do 100% wholeheartedly believe those things. Sometimes it feels fake or that I’m saying I believe, but then I question. But I do. I do believe HE IS GOOD. But if I am truly content and I do truly trust then why am I waiting for what’s next?
And guess what!? We still aren’t to the part that slapped me…it’s this…Hannah shares how she was on the phone with her mom and how she said, “I worked so hard on this book. God better do something great with it because he owes me.”
Y’all I am so stupid…why? Because I have said things like this that are similar.
I know it’s terrible. So awful. I have studied scripture and grown up in the church. I know a lot of Biblical truths and one of them is that God owes us nothing. NOTHING! We owe Him everything. Literally our entire lives are His and His alone.
So what is my identity? What is my curse of a thing that I’ve said lately? Of course if it has to do with anything, it’s love. I have said it to countless people lately.
“My life has flipped. It feels like God cleaned house. Everything and everyone I was used to is gone. Once again where I thought my life was going is changed and who I thought I would spend forever with is gone. Again. I don’t know what God’s doing but here I am again. God kind of raised my standards now. He gave me what I thought was my 10 so He has some big shoes to fill.”
Really?! “God raised my standards so now He has to meet them?” I mean it’s practically the same thing as Hannah! I am so ashamed of how many times I have said that in the last 4 months and even more in the last few weeks. And I’m ashamed of how much I really honestly believed that. My standards are higher. I know what I want and yes God put those there but He doesn’t owe it to me to meet them. He doesn’t even owe it to me to bring someone else. That’s not to say He won’t, but He doesn’t have to.
Hannah says “I thought if I could just push hard enough into a “new season” then God would follow suit. That’s not how God operates.” I have felt that way in the past and even now. I am aiming to say yes to all things that come my way. Searching for whatever new God has. Searching for where He is leading me. All of these things are good things to do!
The issue comes when it becomes a part of our identity. It’s a problem when we seek out and wait on those things instead of living in the present of what God is doing here and now.
My identity can easily be in my past relationships: the good of them, the failed parts, and the lessons learned. I am so comfortable talking about the things I have learned through them and the amazing experiences I’ve had. I’m comfortable there. I don’t find my worth there by any means, but it’s comfortable. Yet that’s living in the past. I also can identify with my future. I know I am called to be a wife, helpmate, and a mother. I can constantly say I hate the dating aspect and I’m a much better girlfriend than dater. Yet that’s living in the future. And that’s not a bad thing to know my calling, but I have to live in the present!
Because the sayings and the sermons are true. Things won’t fulfill us! “The book you plan to write won’t fill you. The goal you marked on the calendar won’t change everything like you think it will. The destinations you’re hoping for mean nothing if you get there alone or you believe you are owed them. This isn’t a life of freedom. It’s actually possible to become a slave to beautiful things: ambition, friendship, success, influence, love stories. It’s so important that we do the necessary heart work and ask ourselves, “Am I making this my everything? Will I still think God is good if I don’t have it?””
And that’s the slap…The past or future isn’t bad. It’s not a bad thing to hope and dream for the new season. It’s necessary to take the present and prepare for the new season as well. But we must rest in the fact that God is good in the season we are in right now! Because He is good! In the heartache, in the lonely, in the excitement, in the ambition, and in the new or scary, He is very good!
So what’s your identity in? What do you think God owes you today? And I hope that this encouraged and rocked your world view today just like it did mine.
xx. Thank you Hannah Brencher!