An Identity Crisis Pt. 1 (What Makes Me ME?)

Is anyone really as confident as they seem?

Or if we are honest, do we all struggle with insecurity to some degree?

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Most of the time I come across very confident…bold, outgoing, friendly, enthusiastic…sometimes I even fool myself. But thanks to my rough summer and subsequent counseling sessions, I am discovering just how much I struggle with insecurity. If I feel safe with you, you might already know this about me: Despite the fact that I am typically pretty friendly, my modus operandi is to assume that I’m not good enough and that therefore people don’t like me.

I often feel “not good enough” and maybe you do too.

 

It was the summer we got engaged. My then-boyfriend’s home town was having this big “start of summer” festival and he wanted to go. We were both working at camp, but it was the weekend, his town was near by, and why not? It sounded fun. Since it was a chilly evening and we were at camp, I threw on some jeans, grabbed a hoodie, and off we went.

I forgot that everyone in this town drinks “perfect juice” that miraculously turns into Barbie and Ken look-a-likes. Of course we ran into tons of his old friends, and of course most of them were girls who decided to wear awesome outfits, gorgeous makeup, and incredible hair that evening. After meeting one too many perfect women (that I definitely couldn’t compete with in my camp sweatshirt and jeans) I retreated to the nearest port-a-potty to recover. Fortunately, my cousin had come to visit for the weekend and she followed me. We had a conversation through the plastic door that went something like this.

“I can’t take it any more! I’m done.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Don’t you see these girls? They are all so much prettier and more put together than me. I can’t deal with it!”

“Christy, it’s okay. He chose you. And he loves you just like you are.”

“It’s not okay. And I’m not coming out.”

 

While I eventually left my refuge in the port-a-potty and my now-hubby comforted me enough to continue the evening, my insecurity problem remains. That was over ten years ago, but I still do silly things like this. Seriously you guys, sometimes I still hide from people who scare me! (Yup, I’m that mature. Haha!)

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot about insecurity and the identity-crisis behind it. I’m starting to see that many of my own ugly habits and sinful struggles are rooted in insecurity. Perhaps many of the difficult and/or obnoxious people we meet are also just struggling with their identity.

Our identity…who we are…this is such a large and loaded topic.

I used to say things like this: I am a pastor’s wife. I am a stay-at-home mom. I am a camp health officer. I am a blogger. I am a hopeful writer. Problem is, a lot of those things got rocky this summer and as a result, my identity was shaken and I became insecure.

I’m starting to realize that much of this list is just stuff that I do; these things do not make me who I am.

So then, who am I? How do I define my identity with things that cannot be shaken or changed? I need to take my eyes off these earthly things that seem so important and go deeper, go eternal.

I am a creation of the God of the Universe. I am adored by my Creator. I am a redeemed sinner. I am a daughter of the King of Kings who also…

  • has a husband who works as a pastor.
  • has two beautiful children here on earth and two in heaven with Jesus.
  • sometimes works at camp.
  • likes to write.
  • etc.

These are descriptions of my life, but they are not who I am at my core. I’m realizing that I need to let Jesus define me, let Him give me my identity. This is way easier said than done and I’m guessing that I will be writing more than one blog post on this topic before I get it semi-figured out. 🙂 Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Sometimes I get this feeling that we are only scratching the surface of what it means to be alive in Jesus. I want more and I know that this “identity crisis” is part of the journey!

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Rejecting Perfection…We are All Broken!

 

This is a revision of a post I published a year ago. I needed to hear it again, and you probably do too!

It was a beautiful spring day, the warm sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze blowing, and the grass was turning green. I was winding my way down a familiar road, feeling each curve, radio playing, singing along. All of the sudden, I realized with a jolt that I was WAY too close to the road’s edge. The cold winter and spring rains had produced wheel-swallowing-potholes in this particular stretch. Breath caught, heart stopped, I knew that I couldn’t correct in time.

“Whump!” My front wheel fell into a small canyon.

“Bam!” My tire blew.

A sinking feeling filled my stomach.  I was going to have to call my employer (I worked as a nanny) and admit that I had broken her car for the second time in a week!

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It is never easy to admit when we break something, and even harder to admit that we ourselves are broken.

But the truth is, we are all broken. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.

Let’s keep being honest. It’s easier to hide, cover up, and fake it,  isn’t it? We feel guilty about being broken. We feel alone. Surely no one else is as screwed up as we are! We don’t think anyone would understand. It doesn’t help that the church often seems to say, “You’re broken, so get it together! Fix yourself! Look better! Or at least pretend.” Somehow as a Christian community we have created two categories of sins, “acceptable” and “unacceptable”. I’m sure that you can immediately think of sin to put in each category. What happens when your sin is thrown in the “unacceptable” pile? We get good at hiding.

We feel like God is disappointed in us (as though He could possibly be shocked by our true selves). We push Him away too.

I’m done with this ridiculous pretend perfection! DONE!

The whole world has been broken by sin, people included. We are all sinners. And each of us has empty, lonely parts, that we try to satisfy in unhealthy ways. I don’t care if you struggle with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, same sex attraction, anger, gossip, a porn addiction, cutting, or anything else. We are all broken and there is only one solution. We need Jesus. The REAL Jesus!

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We need the guy who let prostitutes wash his feet, rescued an adulteress from being stoned, chose traitors to be his followers, and said that He came to seek and save the lost. We need the Jesus who was holding children one minute and tearing up the temple with a whip the next. We need the One who says He is the exact image of the invisible God to bring us into the presence of His Father and heal us.

Contrary to the lies in our heads, our mess doesn’t shock God. He already knows. He doesn’t expect us to fix ourselves; He knows we can’t! He wants to fix us, but we have to let Him. We need to admit our brokenness and give Him all the pieces.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32

What if we just stopped pretending? What if we decided to be real and honest, honest with ourselves, with God, and with each other?

I’ll start. I was ridiculously grumpy last night for no reason. My poor husband was trying to help, but I was so ornery and moody and stubborn that nothing worked. I get stuck in my stubbornness, not unlike my four-year-old, and as a result, I did not eat the scrumptious ice cream my husband bought or enjoy the shoulder rub he offered. Instead I went to bed miserable. I am not the perfect wife (shocker, right?) and I am definitely not the perfect mother. I have issues, some of which I am currently working through in counseling. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s beautiful. Brokenness is beautiful.

It was the broken people that Jesus spent the most time with: the ones who knew and admitted that they were a mess and recognized how much they needed Him. The guys who thought they were “perfect”? Well, they were usually getting rebuked or left scratching their heads in confusion.

None of us have it all together and the sooner we accept and admit that, the sooner we can find healing and life in the amazing person called Jesus Christ. I’m in, pick me!

 

Peace that Doesn’t Make Sense

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Peace that doesn’t make any sense.

This is the kind of thing that proves God’s existence to me. There I am in a situation where I feel powerless, emotional, empty, stressed, worried, etc. But as I chose to give it to God, He supernaturally gives me “peace that surpasses understanding”…

It was my second miscarriage. It was also Valentines Day and I had to spend it in the hospital delivering my tiny, dead son. We had no living children at this point and had just experienced two late-term miscarriages all while being newly married and living eighteen hours from family. The nurse came in to ask me what I wanted to name my baby. We had no answers. This wasn’t supposed to happen again. How could God really be in control?

We chose to name our son Trust, (click here for the full story) taking a step of faith that we did not feel. And as I chose to trust God, I instantly felt powerful peace, peace without logic. My circumstances hadn’t changed, but my heart was at rest. It was so strange and so beautiful!

 

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A few years later my husband and I dealt with a tough situation where we felt used, abused, and then cast aside by someone we respected. We were left with hurt, anger, and bitterness. I struggled with that bitterness and anger for over a year. It was impossible for me to let it go, far beyond my own power to accomplish. But Jesus broke through, convincing me that it wasn’t worth holding on to. I didn’t think I could do it, but I gave Him my hurt and anger. He worked a miracle in my heart; even though nothing changed and no one ever apologized, my anger and bitterness dissolved and I was left with peace that made absolutely no sense.

 

I have recently been going through something that feels completely out of my control. For days my stomach was in knots, I had a sick taste in my mouth, and my heart would randomly start pounding. My emotions ranged from anger and frustration, to deep sorrow and despair, to worry and fear. Sleeping was a joke because as soon as I laid down my brain wanted to relive and process everything, AGAIN. I was a mess.

I knew that I needed to give it all to God, confess the parts where I was wrong, let go of my anger, and move on, but it seemed impossible. One night as I was checking Facebook before getting into bed, I found this post from Lysa TerKeurst.

“That battle? The one for which you’ve run out of solutions and answers… the one that makes you weary and worried and worn out?

God’s got it. I don’t know who else needs this truth, but I sure do.

My job is to be obedient to God. God’s job is everything else.” Lysa TerKeurst

That night I slept like a baby for the first time in a long while. And when I woke up?

I was at peace.

There is no way for this to humanly happen. Absolutely nothing in my situation, past or present, changed. But Jesus is real, friends! And He took my burdens and gave me peace that doesn’t make logical sense.

I know that many of you are desperate for this kind of peace, supernatural peace that only God can give, regardless of our circumstances. I’m here to tell you that it’s possible! I have seen Jesus do this in my life over and over again. Will you let Him give you peace? Will you let go and chose to trust Him regardless?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

 

 

I’m a Foodie – Because He Tastes Good!

We started with a warm, creamy, whitefish dip, which we scooped up with freshly toasted, baby pita chips. Next, our entree arrived carefully plated. Sweetly crisp, coconut shrimp, tender and juicy, resting upright against a mound of soft, chewy, pina colada rice, topped with a perfect drizzle of tangy mango sauce.

Did I make you hungry? My mouth is watering.

I’m not exactly sure when I became a foodie, but I know that Mackinac Island had something to do with it! My husband and I eagerly take our annual pilgrimage to the island planning on doing nothing but biking, relaxing, and eating, with the occasional shopping thrown in for good measure. In between meals, we eat fudge and ice cream! Bumpy Cake ice cream…made exclusively by Sanders Fine Chocolates. I dream of Bumpy Cake for the rest of the year: vanilla buttercream ice cream with soft chunks of devil’s food cake and thick ribbons of creamy chocolate ganache. There is nothing like it (on a homemade waffle cone of course)!

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Since I became a foodie I have noticed something…I crave REAL food. I’m literally getting into healthier eating just because it tastes better. I’m becoming a “whole food” junkie, but not because it’s good for me, or because I’m worried about GMOs or pesticides. Real food is just more delicious! Think of the difference between a pale, mealy, flavorless tomato from the grocery store in the winter, and a full, red, juicy, vibrant garden tomato in late August. Are you with me?

Another thing, I swear that I can taste chemicals these days. For instance, I can’t drink a shake from McDonald’s any more (even my favorite Shamrock one) because they have a nasty chemical aftertaste. Arby’s shakes are still okay for now, but, I really LOVE shakes from our local ice cream shop! It’s more than just shakes though. Bad-for-me fake food that I used to crave no longer satisfies. (Because chemicals, yuck!) I want the real deal!

It’s a lot easier to eat healthy food because it tastes good than it is to eat it because it’s good for you!

cucumber-685704_1920A couple of years ago, my husband and I tried the Fast Metabolism Diet. We lasted 15 of the 28 days before giving up. The weight we lost (and we did lose it) was not worth the terrible food we had to eat. (To be fair, I have heard there are better recipes out there. But the ones in the book are horrid!). It took us months before we could enjoy vegetables again. Cucumbers are still sketchy to me, and plain egg whites definitely make me gag.

What if the same thing is true with our spiritual food?

I think far too often we treat Jesus, His Word, and spiritual disciples as a whole, like nasty health food. “Sigh, I know that reading my Bible is good for me. Ug! So, here goes nothing.” We get so focused on “doing the right thing” or “finding the right formula” that we don’t take time to enjoy it.

Jesus isn’t a diet plan, you guys! He’s more like a delectable meal at a delicious farm-to-table restaurant. You know the place, the one that advertises real food made with local real ingredients, and yes, everything you eat there tastes amazing!

I do not have it all together, and my life is far from perfect. (See my previous post.) But I do know this…the more that I savor every bite of Jesus, the more chemicals I taste when I try to eat other things. The more I get to know Him, see His heart, wonder at His character and personality, the less I want anything else.

Spiritual disciples, such as reading the Bible, prayer, memorizing Scripture, meditating, or fasting, without the person of Jesus, are like nasty cucumbers and egg whites in a reluctant diet plan. You can keep it up with sheer will power for a while, but it isn’t enjoyable.

When did it become “wrong” to enjoy something? I believe God have us ingredients, and taste buds, and brains so that we could invent incredible food. I also believe He gave us emotions, the ability to think, and a spirit (among other things) so that we can have a mind-blowingly awesome relationship with Him…a relationship that is fun, tastes good, and satisfies us to our very core.

Yes, I am a foodie! I love delicious food. 🙂 But I’m also a Jesus foodie!

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I don’t do this Christian thing reluctantly because it’s good for me, or out of sheer will-power because I’m trying to attain something. I’m crazy about Jesus because He’s amazing!! I love the way He tastes and I can’t get enough of Him!!!

 

 

 

Breaking the Silence

Have you ever had one of those seasons of life where it feels like everything is imploding at once? Where just putting one foot in front of the other seems like too much? 

That was this summer.

I usually write about what is on my heart…what I’m thinking about, going through, etc. But I couldn’t. So I just didn’t write anything. For a long time.

Well this is me picking up the hammer, smashing the glass of silence, and being honest.

Camp: It’s been 14 years since I first set foot on my favorite camp. It’s a small place, nothing grand, but as I’ve said before, it holds my heart. So many of the monumental moments of my life are centered around that place. I found grace and freedom my first summer at camp, met my husband while working there, and both of my children were born while we were there as interns. But even though I love my little camp, this summer was really hard. I made a lot of mistakes, struggled with some relationships, and left the summer feeling emotionally and physically drained. Working at summer camp is never easy, but this year was just exceptionally tough on me.

This is not to say it was all bad. There were some wonderful highlights, moments with campers, friendships with staff, watching God work…

Book: After a great Speak Up Conference where it seemed like God was flinging open the door for my book, I got an email from the agent I’ve been working with, telling me that her agency isn’t interested in working with me after all. They have some concerns about my book proposal and don’t feel they can move forward. This was super confusing to me because the agent was the one who helped me write the book proposal in the first place. Since this news came during a time at camp where I was already emotionally spent, I totally lacked the energy to deal with it. I didn’t even reply to her email (real mature, I know), and instead just closed the lid on writing.

I still don’t know what I am going to do. I have publishing houses who expressed interest in seeing my proposal, but with the recent feedback from the agent, I’m not even sure I want to send it in. Not to mention, I’m feeling a little disillusioned with the Christian writing/speaking sphere lately…all this push to be “spectacular”. I don’t want to be spectacular. I just want to be real, and honest, and rebellious. And while I’m ranting, you should know that I’m NEVER wearing a blazer. (Sorry if you are reading this as a speaker/writer who wears blazers…I’m sure they look fantastic on you!)

Church: Some of you know that I am married to an associate pastor (mostly he focuses on youth and children’s ministry). Church ministry is not easy, you guys! Sometimes I think being a pastor and pastor’s wife is one of the most stressful and loneliest jobs on the planet. Our church is growing right now, which is a wonderful thing! But as we switch to two services this fall, and as my husband’s youth group has grown from 9 to 50+ kids over the past four years, it’s also a lot of work!

This summer was one of those times when we had to reevaluate our calling. (Something I think people in ministry should do rather frequently.) We had gut level, honest conversations, and we began to pray for God to either revive our passion or show us the next step.

It’s very clear that Jesus is currently reviving us! God is doing some awesome things in our church right now and we are super excited to be a part of them.

Why are we so afraid to be real? I know I’m not the only one who had a less-than-stellar summer.

You know what? Even though this summer pretty much sucked sometimes, God never stopped being God. Jesus never lost control. And, the Holy Spirit never left my side. Even when I didn’t understand what was going on, They never changed! The biggest lesson I learned? Sometimes we just have to hold onto His promises and run blind.

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