“I had been operating as an orphan rather than a son. I was doing things so I could have something, and hoping to have something so I could become something.”
These words in Leif Hetland’s book, Called to Reign, have been penetrating my heart and thoughts and feel like a punch in the stomach honestly. It is frustrating. I have been down this road many times, but the last two weeks I have really felt identity and performance issues resurface. Questioning my effectiveness here, not having quantitative results in what I am doing, feeling like I’m failing at times, feeling overwhelmed and defeated with learning the language, trying to figure out my place here, feeling guilty for spending time learning the language and not doing “ministry”, and being asked and told by some that I should be using my degree that I spent years dreaming about and thousands of dollars investing into.
As a kid I remember wearing things that didn’t match, doing things that others didn’t like but always saying, “I don’t care what people think about me.” I kept this mantra and wore it proudly on the outside through my high school and college years, but I have recently discovered that I don’t think that’s really how I felt on the inside. Since living in Krakow, I have felt the need for other’s approval more than ever before. And guess what? I don’t measure up to everyone and it doesn’t fulfill my longings of identity….BECAUSE IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO. My identity cannot come from what others think of me. I heard someone say: Jesus imparts identity in you based on what He has done. You do it based on what you’ve done.
I like to do things well…really well. I don’t like to not meet people’s expectations. I want to please others. I want them to like me…just typing that and letting others see this feels so vulnerable, yet freeing, yet full of fear and daunting. This all sounds great, but how can I not let my performance control me? Because it does…it’s what my thoughts and actions revolve around. But thanks to time with the Lord and a dear friend, here is what I am learning right now to fight this battle:
1) It will take some time and some grace
It will take some time and some grace for you to let Him reveal who He says you are now, in this place that He has taken you.
Some time Brandi…so this means don’t be frustrated if it’s not all fixed tomorrow when you wake up and again next week when the enemy starts questioning you with lies about your identity.
And grace for YOU. God gives us grace that is new every morning, so give yourself grace. It’s a complete transformation of thinking – it’s okay, expect some disappointment.
And who is God saying you are now? Right now? God is not boring, He is always doing a new thing and it’s not a secret He is keeping from you. Are we aware of it and asking Him, “what is it YOU are doing Lord?”
2) Press into His pleasure
Press into His pleasure for you alone! Not what you do or can accomplish but just because you are His absolute delight!
“We are the people of his pleasure (Psalm 100:3).” You please the Father. Put your name in this, make it personal!! _____, you please God. “For the source of your pleasure is not in my performance”, but because I am His daughter/son and His absolute delight! (Psalm 51:16)
3) There is always a battle for new things
This battle right here is why most people say no to trying new things and moving to new places. They don’t want to have to question all over again who they are and what is their purpose. It is a worthy battle!
Are we not stepping into things because we fear change? Fear of not being approved by others? Fear of what God might call us to do? Fear of “failing” (to the world’s standards)? Just wanting to live a “comfortable and easy life?” Not wanting to be faced with the reality of our own hearts?
Let’s look at Jesus, the enemy wanted him to question his identity, “f you are the son of God then…” Eve: “Did God actually say…” And the list continues with this scheme of the enemy trying to get us to question our identity. Why? Because he knows when you truly discover who you are in Him and live FROM that truth, God will use you in a big way to bring His Kingdom to earth. You are not failing when the enemy starts trying to get you to question what you are doing and who you are again. I am learning right now that I am vulnerable (everything is new, it’s like I’m living in the wilderness) and the enemy knows that he fails when I start living out my true identity in Christ.
4) You’re not just “doing stuff”
You’re not just “doing stuff”, you have influence and because of the Holy Spirit living in you, you are bringing the Kingdom to every place you step foot into.
This is head knowledge right now for me, but I am getting it into my heart. Josiah was encouraging me last week and asked, “maybe the Lord isn’t into all that you’re doing right now, but trying to get you to see what He is doing inside of you?” A very wise missions pastor that I know (and live with) says and has seen: it is vital the first year to have time to adapt to culture to have long-term success. And we carry the Kingdom so just our presence changes the atmosphere bringing joy, gratitude, peace, love, kindness, etc. and though I feel I don’t see the fruit right now, the roots are being established and growing. So whether you are a teacher, a doctor, a stay at home mom, a student, a business man or woman, a missionary, or retired, YOU HAVE INFLUENCE and you are a conduit of the Kingdom! Ian Green told me this past weekend: “Europe is a better continent because you moved here.” I told Josiah this in the car on the ride home from having dinner with them and just started crying…it wasn’t just words from Ian, that’s how God sees me. He is happy I moved here, He is pleased I moved here, and He is pleased in just my ‘being.’
You have influence and you are a conduit of the Kingdom!
So if you’re one that the enemy has tried or probably continues to try to trap you in your doing and performance, defeat him. Declare who God says you are, receive your identity, enter into His intimacy, be in relationship not one way communication, have friends that are speaking truth over you, receive and give yourself grace, dive into something new without having the how answered, ask the Lord what He sees in you right now, and walk in confidence that every place you step is changed (not because of your doing), but because He lives inside of you and that place will never be the same because His Kingdom invaded hearts!