The words appeared to jump off the page straight into my heart. The impact was so physically felt that I had to sit down as I steadied myself for the realisation that I am HIS.
And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters
2 Corinthians 6:18
The truth is identity is something that I have struggled with as long as I can remember. My worth has always been found in my identity, in who I am, in what I do. If I fail at something, no matter how insignificant it may seem to others I take it so personally. I remember as a young girl of no more than 8, failing a spelling test at school. Now when I say failed, I mean I got 9 out of 10 answers right. Now to many this would be an astounding achievement; wow only one incorrect answer? Well done lovely! Yet I sobbed when I closed the door to my bedroom, away from prying eyes. This little girl was heartbroken because she had failed at the one thing that she could control in her life – her intelligence and academic success. She had let herself down, let her family down, those who were looking to her, willing her to do well, expecting her to succeed, relying on her to raise the bar.
And the word I got wrong?
I can still see it now, written in smudged pencil marks in my spelling book. I had spelled it as oppurtunity not opportunity, and I remember being so distraught that I wrote that word out about a hundred times in the privacy of my bedroom to make sure I would never spell it wrong again.
Why? Because I craved the love and adoration of my parents. I so desperately wanted them to be proud of me, to want me. Because my daddy hadn’t been the man I needed him to be, because my mom was busy raising two children single-handedly while I tried so hard to be a grown up girl. And grown up girls were good girls. They did their homework, they listened at school and they got good grades. So a bad grade meant I hadn’t lived up to the expectation, no matter how unrealistic that expectation had grown in my little 8 year old head.
24 years later and I still love words of affirmation. I still thrive in situations where I can succeed, where I can do good and where I am needed and noticed. That’s not to say that I do things just to get attention, far from it at times, however my love languages of words of affirmation and physical touch are the very same as that 8 year old girl sat in her bedroom all those years ago.
Perhaps this is why identity is so important to me. To me, what I do affirms who I am, my purpose, my usefulness, and I have spent years chasing dreams and trying to be the best I can be in the many phases of my personal life and professional career.
The truth is that I think that a lot of us are good at a lot of things. I have sought labels and titles, believing that once I achieve a certain position at work, a certain level of responsibility, a certain martial status then I will have ‘made it’. Only problem is that each time I reach the next ‘level’, the goal posts change, and along with it my capacity or my desires. All of a sudden I am not pigeon holed neatly into one box, I seem to fit into three and this does not sit well with my organisational OCD that likes to compartmentalise my life.
My daughter, don’t you know that your identity is not in who you are but in whose you are?
These are the words that caused my world to stop spinning just for a millisecond, as I held my breath, stunned at the truth being spoken into my heart by my Heavenly Father.
I am the Dad he could never be, I am the mother that you missed, I am the parent that holds you close on your darkest day, I never missed a single moment of your life. I was there at every precious milestone, when you first rode a bike, when you won a writing competition at school, I was there when you lost your loved one, I was there when you passed your exams, I was there when he betrayed you in the worst way, I was there when you made the decision to follow Me, I was there when you were baptised in My name, I was there when you married the man I created just for you and I was there when you gave birth to his children.
And I am still here now.
Still watching, still waiting, still listening.
So lean in close and hear my heartbeat.
Floored by the brand new revelation of God’s love for me, He gently told me;
Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. Matthew 11:28 (The Message)
Stop striving, stop searching and simply be. Stop trying to control your circumstances, stop trying to predict the future and stop trying to conceal your past. Stop trying to be all things to everyone, stop trying to fix broken things and embrace their new shape. What if the road ahead doesn’t look how you had envisaged? What if the dream doesn’t come to pass as you had expected? What if the path isn’t clear but is in fact blurry, with the final destination hidden from view?
Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. Learn to abide in Me, learn to trust in My plan for you my daughter. Learn to rest in my arms and enjoy the view. Learn to embrace a love you could never earn.
Because His grace covers every sin, every circumstance, every history and every hurt, every disappointment and every failure. Because it gently guides and never causes guilt. Because His timing is perfect and because you deserve it.
And so today I fall at His feet, fall in love with my Saviour all over again, and thank Him for loving me.
And I start to learn the unforced rhythm of grace in my life.