Soul Care #4- Identity

Have you ever had a pronouncement made about who you are?  Maybe someone in junior high said you had a funny nose or laughed too loud.  Maybe a teacher called you her "star student".  Whether good or bad, we often take on the comments and reactions of others as a gauge for who we are.

Stephen Smith, author of Embracing Soul Care, writes:
"We do not see ourselves as God views us.  It takes a lifetime to even begin to realize who we really are in God's eyes.  Judges 6 tells of Gideon's struggle with his identity.  The angel of the Lord said to Gideon, 'The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.' (v. 12) Gideon knew he was not a mighty warrior.  He had not done anything outstanding.  Yet this pronouncement identifies the Gideon God made him to be.  At first he resisted this noble status, arguing with the angel: 'How can I save Israel?... My clan is the weakest... I am the least..." (v. 15) Gideon does not accept his true identity.  The announcement of Gideon's identity didn't sink in, but as his life unfolded, he lived out his 'mighty warrior' name."  (pp. 47-48)
Perhaps this seems basic to you, but have you ever really thought about who you are?  How did God build you?  What is your makeup?  Are you a natural encourager?  Are you able to see the big picture and easily make plans and set achievable goals?  Do people feel at ease and open up their hearts to you?  Who did God make you to be?

Really.  I want you to stop and answer this question:

  • "Who did God make me to be?"
Have you thanked God for making you as He did?  It's no surprise to Him that you're the way you are. Do you believe He can use you in His plans for the world?  

As a way of opening up, I'll share my answers with you, from when I read this portion of the book... 
"prophetess of God-- NOT big P, Prophetess.  Little p prophetess-- truth-speaker.
Bold, truthful"
And to be honest, I sometimes forget that God made me this way & lapse into feeling bad about these character qualities.  

I remember certain things other people have spoken over me-- controlling, judgmental -- and could easily think that I'm mistaken in exercising these character qualities.  But the fact of the matter is, God built me this way.  He made me passionate about truth... so much that in college, I wrote an article in our college about how fake it is to answer that you're "fine" if you're really torn up inside... I implored my peers to be honest with each other!  And was promptly rebuked (in the college newspaper the following week) by a friendly professor who reminded me that these friendly greetings are the glue of society.  :)  

My point is though, that in big and small ways, I can look through the experiences of my life and see certain things God built into me that keep on popping up as traits of "me".  I didn't put them there.  My parents didn't plant them in me... although our parents certainly sometimes encourage or discourage certain attributes in us.  But God builds us with certain attributes, and when you take the overview of your life, you may find certain things God has put into you.  

So, how did God build you?  And can today be a day that you bless the Lord for how He made you?

Image: Ambro /


Julie Spencer said...

Hey Jess :)

I totally remember that article--and the response in the good ol' Ouachita Signal.

I always appreciated the fact that you were consistently YOU in college, know what I mean? And that's a good thing. Admirable.

This is a good reminder for me in my life at home--so many pressures from EVERYONE to do so many things that sound nice or exciting or good or important--but they're just not right for our family, and I know it. I'm navigating how to be me and do what's best for my family, even when it means contradicting so many well-meaning folks.

(We're back in my hometown and, you know, I'm not the Julie Hall I was 14 years ago...that's hard for all of us to accept! :) )

Thanks for the thoughtful posts, as always--


Stephen Smith said...

Jess, I'm honored to see some references to my book here. Thank you so much. I wonder if you'd be interested in me sending you five copies for you to use with your blog readers as a give a way of some type. I'd also love to send you a book which I wrote last year which goes into more detail on the themes of soul care which is titled, Soul Custody. Finally, I've just completed a new book which I'd love to also send you titled, The Jesus Life, in this book I go further and offer 8 ways for the reader to re-discover authentic Christianity.

I need a snail mail address to ship the books to you should want them and I hope you will.

Thanks for your very good work here and I'm going to subscribe!


Stephen W. Smith

Kim said...

Seriously. I just googled "How does God see me" two days ago, after a particularly bad discussion with a coworker who said many many negative things about me. We just tend to believe (and hold on to, even) the worst things people say about us instead of finding our identity in Christ. I'm definitely still learning in this area!

Jess said...

Stephen Smith,
Thank you so much! I'm so excited to have a giveaway & read your newer books. I've written you & look forward to learning more from you. This is very encouraging; thank you so much for stopping by!

Jules said...

Thank you for this post... really needed it today... and every day! :)

Kate said...

There's so many good posts lately, that there's a backlog of stuff I want to read more carefully and comment on. That said, this post really got me thinking about how in the past few months, I've gotten more comfortable in my own, God-given skin. One thing that set that into motion was one Sunday at church when the notion of trying to "be more holy than God" was part of the teaching.

Over the past few years that I've been trying to find my footing in the (for me) drastic new concept of biblical womanhood, I've been prone to the pitfalls that involve trying to copy what one woman, or a set of women are doing, who I see as "doing it right". In this process I found myself stifled and depressed. I could have gone one of 2 ways... either "Forget this Christian stuff, this is too hard! They're too narrow minded! I need to be myself!" which is a perfect illustration of throwing out the baby with the bath water, OR just shut up and accept the true measure of freedom in Christ! This freedom is not cheap grace, it just means knowing what grace actually is. I could imagine God saying to me "I miss you. You used to be so fun and authentic and down to earth and creative! That's how I made you, and what could be more 'Christian' than being who you are?"

In some ways I am substantially different than my sisters in Christ for a number of reasons, but the more okay I am with that, the less I actually need to be self absorbed trying to act like I'm not self absorbed! LOL