Saturday, April 26, 2014

Missplaced Roots: Finding our Identity in the Wrong Places

I idealized becoming a mother.  Who doesn't? It an amazing gift in whatever way it comes. I’d dream about holding a cute baby girl and cuddling her sweetly.  My first pregnancy was a cake walk - literally!  Along with the pregnancy glow, I gained an extra 50 pounds!  In my quest for the perfect natural birth, I took not just one but two birthing classes!  

Little did I know I was heading into an identity crisis.  

The dictionary says an identity crisis is a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.  

For me that was becoming a mom.

Let’s just say my dreams of motherhood did not match reality.  What happened was not in any way the a blissful-natural birth I pictured. 

The first two weeks of having baby Mckenna home went by pretty smoothly.  But I was not prepared for the weeks and months to follow of feeling helpless and a like failure at being a mom.  I had all these ideals in my head of what being a great mom looked like and that is just not what reality bought.  

Now I was home all day, sleep deprived, still looked four months prego, nursing a baby ALL day, and watching ER re-runs.  I could barely shower and get dressed let alone make a meal for my family.  I didn’t know who I was anymore.  

Who Am I?

We all have asked ourselves - Who am I?  We all identify ourselves by something or someone. Whatever we choose to be our identity we are hoping it will bring us life!  The problem is that our sin nature without intervention will keep us running to all the wrong places.

What if we thought of our lives like a small, pretty flower.  Let's go with this illustration for a minute.  We are all looking somewhere to place our identity.  A plant needs a place where it can put down roots and grow.  What if finding our identity was like planting our lives is different flower pots.  

Seven Identity Flower Pots

God made us for relationship with him and with others.  The problem is we can root our identity in who we know.  There will never be a relationship that I can find or there will never be enough relationships to tell me “your loved.”  Because this pot is empty is will ALWAYS leave me needing more love.  How can we know if we are rooting our identity in relationships?
  • How do you react to rejection from others?  
  • Do you regularly name drop to others?
Galatians 1:10 
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

We can root our identity in what we accomplish. We all love getting things done and being successful but we can let what we do tell us we matter.  If I’m placing my identity here there will never be enough success.  I’ll always be driven for more.  How do you know if you are rooting your identity here.  Ask yourself...
  • What is your response to failure?
  • Do you causally hint about your success?
Colossians 3:23 -
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Our American society is obsessed about appearance.  You cannot see something on TV, the computer, or in the shopping store that have not been air brushed.  The world tell us every day that what is on the outside matters.  So early in life we can root our identity in our appearance.  If we are placing our identity in our appearance we will never be satisfied.  We will become obsessed about having the “perfect look.”  So what are the signs that we are finding our identity in appearance.  Could you ask yourself...
  • Do I go to excessive lengths to pamper my looks?
  • Do I often become depressed appearance? 
1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

We can root our identity in what we have or what we don’t have.  If I’m letting my identity be placed here then I’m always going to be letting what I have tell me I’m significant.  And what I have will NEVER be enough.  I'll always need more.  Do you...?
  • Do I continue to purchase things that I don’t need?
  • When I see someone with something I’d like, where do my thoughts go?
Luke 12:34
Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Did you know that we can root our identity in what we do for God.  This is an easy trap and one that may be harder to realize.  Early in college I was planning on doing full time missions work.  As the Lord began to work on my heart, He showed me that I was idolizing the position of how I served.  And yes we still do this in church today.  We idolize certain way we see people serving.  Does it matter that you are a bible study leader, or work at the mission, or watch or neighbors kids.  No it doesn't matter one bit.  How we serve has nothing to do with how Jesus sees us.  We can ask ourselves...
  • Does is matter how you serve or are you happy just to serve?  
  • Do you label some serving as more important than others?
1 Corinthians 12:18
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.

We can root our identity in health problems.  We can let our sickness or handicaps define who we are.  This pot is empty too.  If I place my identity in being healthy or define it by a handicap, I’ll always be looking for “getting better.”  I’ll become a martyr to my situation.  
What’s a sign that we find our identity here?
  • Is your health troubles one of the first things people know about you?
  • Do you find yourself thinking life would be better if ________?
2 Corinthians 12:9
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

The last place we can root our identity in the pain of our past.  You and I can let what has happened to us tell us we are unworthy and unlovable.  Everyone single one of us here has a past.  We all have things that we wish would not have happened or we had not done. Trouble is all too often we miss place our identity here.  This pot is empty too.  If we let our past say who we are we can never accept who God says we are. Do you find yourself saying...

"I’ll never be good enough because that happen to me or because I did that."  
"No one would ever love me if they knew about my past." 

2 Corinthians 5:17
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 

These are just seven places that I have misplaced my identity.  There are many more.  I share these ones because I have battled not finding my identity here.  

A beautiful flower pot can look appealing and promising but it is empty.

Each time I have placed my identity here it has left me wilted and thirsting for more. 

 Lost in Comparison

You see when we let these things say who we are then we begin comparing.  The dictionary says comparing means to examine in order to find similarities and differences.  
  • If I’m identified by my relationships, I’m always going to be comparing who I know to others. I’ll compare my marriage to their marriage.  I’ll compare my kids to their kids.  And on and on...
  • If I’m identified by my success, I”ll always be measuring mine to others.
  • If I’m identified by my appearance, I’ll always be looking at other girls and thinking I could dress better, have a better body, have a better personality.
  • If I’m identified by possessions, I’ll always compare my house, my car, my clothes my vacations to others.
  • If I’m identified by my ministry I’ll always compare mine and think it’s not as significant as others.
  • If I’m identified by my health, I’ll always compare mine to others.  
  • If I’m identified by my past, I’ll compare mine and I’ll feel broken and helpless.
These are not bad things.  These are not evil.  But they were never meant to be places that we find who we are.   This is not were we are to plant our lives.

Rooted in the Right Place

But there is a place where our roots can grow deep and our lives can flourish. 

Only by placing our lives in Christ can we find a lasting identity.  His Spirit and His truth is what our lives need.

Let's choose to grow our lives deep in the soil of Christ's love.  Not in these other things.  
His Love -- that only place where our roots can go down deep. 

Ephesians 3:17-19
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

A Daughter's Tea Time

I have had this idea in my mind for some time. 

Mulling it over... Considering what it would look like... 

Once as a young girl, my mom took my sister and I to a High Tea.  It was a special afternoon that we shared - sipping tea in fancy hats. 

As I've matured as a mom, I've come to see more and more that each mom has their own special way of being mom.  The mom that is just right for the children you have been blessed with.  I'm learning to celebrate what are my strengths and incorporate that into my children's hearts. 

That is were the idea for Tea Parties with my daughters began.

Here is what it has looked like so far.
  • We invite two friends, one for each of my girls. 
  • We choose a menu for our guest.  So far its been one savory and one sweet recipe.  Nothing fancy just something simple that the girls can make with me. 
  • We set the table together.  I chose a fun tea set that would grow with my girls through the years.   We place the table cloth, dishes, and center piece. 
  • We get all dressed up.  What could be more fun than an afternoon of dress up and tea with friends. 
  • Enjoy tea time with friends.  This has been a great way for me to teach my daughter's simple manners and etiquette, something that seems to be a lost art these days.   
It's been my goal to have one once of a month with my girls.  We've come pretty close.  I love knowing that I'm investing in my daughters in a way that incorporates who I am as a women and mother.   The memories we are making with my daughter's tea time will be treasured for years to come.