The world likes to define us. It likes to say, "You need to be taller, thinner, have a different hair cut or color, or be smarter, wear that, drive this, live here". Who are we? Way down deep, that is a question we have probably all asked ourselves at one time or another. It's easy to let that question be answered for us, by others, and that's usually not a good thing.
Growing up my father constantly reminded me, "You can do anything you put your mind to". It instilled in me a great sense of confidence that I am truly grateful for. You can be whatever you want to be. You can do whatever you want to do. It's made a HUGE impact on my life!
I remember early in my elementary school carer my mom literally hating parent teacher conferences. You parents with a difficult child, you know what I'm talking about. My mom would dread every single one! That was really my own fault, not hers. I was that difficult child. But my mom loved me, still does. I grew up feeling love and acceptance from my mom. I can only compare it to the love of God for His children. It's been a blessing! Again, instilling in me a great sense of confidence.
I remember one particular parent teacher conference where my mom was handed a failing report card and told by the teacher that I was stubborn. It was even in writing on the back of that report card, and it was true. I was stubborn! I still have that report card. What I'll never forget about that conference was my mom's response. It changed my life. She looked at the report card, then looked that teacher in the eye and said,
I grew up with different definitions of who I was. On the one hand I was a failing, stubborn brat. But love said that stubborn was good when you get it headed in the right direction. So many times the labels we grow up with are what we become. The world can steal our true identity-- what God says we are, and replace it with what it says we are.
I could probably write a longer post about where NOT to find your identity. However, today we will look at where we SHOULD find our identity and what happens when we understand who God says we are. Before we proceed though, just a disclaimer. That teacher was well-meaning, young, right out of college, single and childless. I'm sure she'd never met a tough case like me. Now that she's older, married and has kids of her own, most likely her perspective has changed.
Your identity and how you see yourself, is quite often shaped by your early life experiences, as mine was. Hopefully, you had a great childhood and you have a healthy self-image. But maybe you heard the voices that said things that made you doubt your self worth and who you really are. Maybe your identity was shaped by those voices. If that's you, this post is especially written with you in mind!
I knew what people said I was. I knew what the world said I needed to be. I knew what my parents said I could be. But as I got older, I so desperately needed to know who God said I was.
God created you and me in His image and for unique purposes. He tells us who we are in His Word. These Bible verses help us understand more about our identity in Jesus Christ and how to not lose sight of who we are and who God designed us to be.
"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10
“Your identity is firmly anchored in Jesus’s accomplishment, not yours. His strength, not yours. His performance, not yours. His victory, not yours. You are not what you do; you are what Jesus has done for you.” — Tullian Tchividjian
We are not defined by who the world says we are. We are defined by what God says we are in His Word. He created us uniquely in His image and made us who we are so that we could make known who He is. Isn't that a beautiful thought!
Many people today are looking for their identity in relationships, a career, titles and so many other places. The problem with finding your identity in these places is that these things change. Relationships change. Careers change. Titles become meaningless. What doesn't change, or become meaningless, is God and who He says you are. The steadfast love of our unchanging God gives us the security of the identity we crave.
God knows what you really are. Deep inside the you that nobody else knows or sees God knows, sees and loves. He knows that you are both good and bad, saved yet still sinful, provided for but still needy, beautiful and broken all at the same time. You don’t have to fear the identity the world tries to pin on you. All of this is welcomed at the foot of the cross where Jesus says, "Come".
If we are not looking for our identity in Jesus Christ and what He says we are in His Word, then we are going to look for and find it somewhere else. We're going to let the world put it's stamp on our identity and tell us who it thinks we are. When this happens, we allow failures, weaknesses, fleshly desires, pride, worldly success and despair define us. This leaves us empty and spiritually destitute. The identity the world offers us will never give the eternal hope we crave, instead it leaves us in a state of perpetual hopelessness.
When we find our identity in Jesus Christ and what He says we are in His word, we seek to bring Him glory and not ourselves. I am created in His image, bought at a price, a new creation, His workmanship, a person for His possession, a child of God. When I understand that this is who I am and this is my identity, all that I am and all that I do seeks to bring Glory to His name.
When we find our identity in Jesus Christ the past has no hold on us and we have no fear of the future. He bought us at a price. Our past has no hold and our future is secure. Consider the lineage of Jesus, littered with rapist, adulterers, murderers and prostitutes. Just like these people, He has claimed our identity and covered us with His righteousness.
When we find our identity in Him there's no need to compare ourselves to others. My only comparison is to Him and Him alone. I am created in His image and I am to be like Him. He is my standard for holiness. His Word is my textbook for life. Comparing myself to others, social media friends, church friends, coworkers, only produces dissatisfaction. It leaves me with a warped sense of who He says I am.
We are all created with the purpose of glorifying God. We accomplish this in unique ways because God has created us all different. You may be filled with creativity and you glorify God with that creative spirit. At the same time your friend at church glorifies God with her beautiful voice and excellent piano playing. One man glorifies God as a CEO of a world-wide corporation, while another glorifies Him as a custodian at the church you attend. You have a friend that glorifies God in the way she seeks to raise her family, while yet another glorifies Him as they serve in their singleness. There is no comparison. As members of the family of God we glorify Him in our uniqueness. We seek to bring glory to His name with the gifts and talents He has chosen to give us. Don’t get lost in the sea of comparison and miss out on the blessing of serving Jesus Christ where you are and with the special gifts He has given you.
When our identity is found in Jesus we are not surprised when difficulties come our way. Just as His suffering on the cross had purpose, so does our suffering. Difficulties and trials can bring us closer to Him and make us reflect more of Him. Not only this, but they can also give us a ministry. Countless times I have witnessed friends going through trials only to emerge able to lead others through the same difficulty.
Another byproduct of suffering is that the value of eternal things becomes much greater. Sometimes, the most difficult years of our lives can also be the very best. Suffering, difficulties and trials will all produce spiritual growth if we allow them too. At some point in our Christian walk we are all going to encounter times of suffering. How many of us though will look back on these times with thankfulness? That's not easy, especially with our earthly perspective! However, with an eternal perspective, and the hope of Jesus Christ, we are able to see these times as constructive and be thankful for them. The eternal perspective is a priceless perspective! The more I focus on things of eternal value the less I cling to things that are merely of earthly value.
Your heart belongs to Him. It was made for loving Him and will not be satisfied with any other identity.
Have a favorite verse about who God says you are? Please share it in the comments for others to read and be encouraged.
By now you have assembled all the toys. You've managed to keep the kids in bed until a reasonable hour. Presents have been opened. There's wrapping paper, bows and ribbon on the floor, and underneath the tree looks relatively bare. Christmas dinner is smelling delightful and guests are beginning to gather. Christmas day has arrived and with it, for some, comes a bit of chaos.
I hope you are able to grab a moment or two of peace and quiet some time today. It's a priceless commodity that is hard to come by these days. We seem to be our own worst enemies. We come with our own bit of chaos, robbing ourselves of every chance of peace. Continuously growing to-do lists can take over our lives, especially this time of year. How many nights a week do you lay your head on the pillow only to relive the entire day while making a mental to-do list for the next day? Or maybe you HAVE carved out a few moments of quiet time only to have your mind suddenly hijacked by thoughts, worries and chaos? Finding peace in a world of chaos can be a very challenging task!
“Bless us, Lord, this Christmas with quietness of mind. Teach us to be patient and always to be kind. Show us that in quietness we can feel Your presence near. Fill us with joy and peace throughout the coming year.” —Helen Steiner Rice
With technology ruling our lives, financial pressures and the work family life balancing act, it's difficult to keep up. None of this produces peace, instead, it creates chaos in our lives. This lifestyle overload can be overwhelming often leading to anxiety, fear and even depression. While you can’t check out of life and avoid all of it's "adulting" responsibilities, you can approach things in a kinder, gentler way. Today, let's talk about finding peace in the chaos.
Meditation on God's Word is the single most effective way I have found to find peace in a world of chaos. I'm talking about true meditation. A place where you are able to separate yourself from everything that's going on in your chaotic little world and focus on Scripture. The benefits are truly amazing!. It will eliminate stress, allow you to think more clearly, and help you see the bigger picture.
You know the chaos is going to be there. So how can we lessen the effect it has on us in the future? Memorization. Memorizing God's Word will give you a tool to fight the chaos of the future. You say, "I can't memorize Scripture." Sure you can! I remember as a third grader memorizing the entire chapter of Hebrews 11. I can still recite most of it today. If a third grader can memorize a chapter, you can memorize a verse. Start with a single verse and then build on it. A good one to start with is Philippians 4:6. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
As wives, moms, daughters, and sisters, we are so busy. Constantly going, going, going. We often forget to just take a moment, step back, and simply breathe. Focusing your attention and taking a few, intentional deep breaths will help you find your peace in the chaos. It will give you a clearer awareness of the here and now. Deep breathing is a simple, effective way to overcome the stresses of today and lead you into a place of peace tomorrow. The great thing about taking a deep breath is that it's something that can be done anywhere, anytime! Scientifically speaking, when you take shallow breaths, it reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your brain cells. This reduces your overall brain function. Taking deep breaths relaxes your muscles, relieves tension and helps your brain function much better. Let's do this!
Did you know that the practice of gratitude will cause real changes in your brain and enhance brain function as well? It's true! If you want your brain to work better, practice being grateful for the good things in your life. Writing down your grateful thoughts makes that practice even more powerful. If you're looking for a gratitude journal, check out this 52-week gratitude journal by Pretty Simple Planners. I love their planners, and I love this journal too!
I have gifted several of these gratitude journals and each recipient has been truly grateful! Good days really do start with gratitude. Write things down. Journaling, being grateful for the here and now, it's something we don’t do enough. Yet it’s such a powerful tool to help you find peace in a world of chaos. If you're ready to journal your gratitude, click this link and order one today! Put it on your desk, by your bed, throw it in your bag when you leave the house. Keep it with you at all times. Be prepared to see the things in your life you have to be grateful for, and journal them. Now, when chaos interrupts your little world, pull out your gratitude journal and be grateful! Give it a try. You will be surprised how much this helps you find peace in a world of chaos. Try journaling, or putting your thoughts on paper. The process gives your grateful thoughts a home, a place they can live, and a place you can visit to remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for. Once those thoughts are expressed in writing, they give you more power to find peace.
Prayerfully listening to the still small voice of God. I love this passage in I Kings where God speaks to Elijah. "And he said, 'Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.' And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'" I Kings 19:11-13 God was not in the wind. He was not in the earthquake or the fire either. God spoke to Elijah in a whisper, and Elijah heard it! God still speaks to us in whispers. A still small voice is waiting to have a conversation with you today, and this is powerful!
Taking a walk is always a good idea. Being mindful of your surroundings and thanking God for the beauty of His amazing creation is bonus material! Exercising, reconnecting with nature, even hitting the gym is a great way to rid your mind of the chaos. You can literally sweat the chaos right out of your brain. Finding the motivation to get out there and do it is often the biggest hurdle you'll have to overcome. But once you get those tennis shoes laced up, leave your phone behind, and get your blood flowing and heart pumping, I promise, you'll thank yourself. Even if you don't get your heart pumping, even a peaceful walk through the woods or down a path will help clear the chaos. Aside from this, just the health benefits alone should be enough to convince you to make exercise a regular part of your life.
If you're a runner, you know going for a nice, long run will clear your mind and help you escape the chaos. I particularly enjoy an outdoor run with several destination points along the way. This helps me focus on reaching small goals that lead to a bigger goal. Even if you are a walker, this "destination point" strategy can be a good method of clearing the chaos in your mind. Physical activity combined with focus and being mindful of your surroundings will help eliminate the chaos. And remember what I said about leaving your phone behind? JUST DO IT! I know we're all like, "What if I get a phone call? What if it's important? What if it's an emergency? What if I see a pretty leaf, and need to take a picture of it" LOL It’s all too easy to take a break from your workout to check emails, texts, notifications or voicemails if you have your phone with you. And a single message can trigger chaos. LEAVE THAT PHONE BEHIND, PLEASE!
Talking it out with a friend is another great way to find peace. I can't tell you how many times this has helped me. Bouncing my chaos off a trusted confidant with a totally different perspective can change everything! Discussing the problems, obstacles and potential solutions with a good friend is a great way to get on the pathway to peace.
Unplug from technology, even if it's just for an hour. A whole day would be better. I know it's hard, but a lot of times the technology in our lives, although it's supposed to be helpful, is actually a hinderance. It can actually be the cause of a lot of our chaos. Try to unplug for an hour, then longer. A technology fast will do you wonders! I've done it. I know. Some day I'll tell you about the time I unplugged for an entire week!
Finally, let's remind ourselves of Who is actually in control in this world of chaos, and more importantly, who is NOT in control. God is in control! He rules His creation, including world leaders, the powerful and the weak, the bold, the mighty and the meek. He is in control and WE ARE NOT! So let's trust Him with our mess. Let's trust Him to help us find the peace we so desperately crave.
All of these things help to remind us that we, along with the things that cause our chaos, are just small pieces of a much larger puzzle. That puzzle, our story, is being assembled by the Master puzzle maker. He, and He alone is the giver of real, true, lasting peace.
We hope this is a lovely Christmas for you and your family, and that you have a relationship with the giver of real, true, lasting peace which will enable you to find peace in a world of chaos!
Cookie bake off? Check. Kids' presents? Check. Christmas cards? Check. Stocking stuffers? Check. Shopping for Christmas dinner? Check. As Christmas day draws near, the to-do list seems to get longer and longer. Our energy is zapped and the focus is no longer on what's really important. Only a few days out from the big day and we find ourselves in the midst of commitment overload! How do we stay focused on the important stuff like what we're really celebrating and staying connected as a couple?
This Christmas, for the first time in 35 years, my husband and I will find ourselves alone on Christmas morning. The kids are all adults now. If you find yourself in this new season of life, or maybe you're a newlywed couple, this post is for you!
"Let's start a new tradition." I said recently to my husband. How do you start new traditions when you've been married for 35 years? My first, crazy thought was, "Let's plant a tree!" I Googled "trees you can plant in Georgia in the winter." Results: carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, onions, cabbage, leaf lettuce, spinach. First, none of these are what I had in mind. Second, none of these are trees! Then my husband pointed out that we only have a couple acres at our forever home. Planting a tree every Christmas for the rest of our lives may not be practical. As usual, he's right.
Planting a tree sounded like a good idea. However, in reality it isn't the time of year for that sort of thing and like my hubs said, it's really not practical. So I surveyed some social media friends. I asked them to share the Christmas traditions that help them stay connected as a couple during this busy season.
So during the busyness of the Christmas season how do we stay focused on the important things as a couple? One way is by establishing a new tradition that not only celebrates the birth of our Savior, but also the strength of our love for each other.
Christmas is about love, the love of God Who came to earth as a baby to live with His creation and provide a pathway to salvation. Christmas isn’t just for kids, it's for adults too. So let’s talk today about starting that new Christmas tradition, just for the two of you.
If you're not sure what kind of tradition to start, check out this list. There's something special here for you whether you have been married for 35 years or you're a newlywed couple looking to start a new tradition all your own. Or maybe you are looking for something fun to do once the kids are all tucked away in bed. We hope this list of 10 meaningful Christmas traditions for Christian couples will give you a fresh perspective. These are just a few ideas to get you started and get the wheels of creativity in your mind turning. As you read them, we hope you'll find inspiration for your own journey as a couple!
10 meaningful Christmas traditions for Christian couples
I am so in love with the idea of writing each other a love letter! The art of handwritten letters and notes is fading fast. I still have love letters my husband wrote me more than 35 years ago. These are precious to me! Imagine the delight of your children when they dig through your special keepsake drawer some day and find love letters. A father and mother that truly love each other as God loves us is one of the best gifts you can give your children.
Breakfast in bed is always a treat and there's so many wonderful Christmas movies out there. One of my personal favorites is It Happened on Fifth Avenue. I can see myself all snuggled up on Christmas morning with a good cup of coffee watching a Christmas move with my husband.
Giving each other a meaningful Christmas ornament that sums up the year is another great idea. I was recently in Hobby Lobby and noticed all the specialty ornaments. I even saw a broccoli ornament. Seriously, there's a broccoli ornament! If you can't find an ornament here to sum up your year I don't know where else you'd find it.
A winter hike and Christmas photo sounds like a delightful idea, especially if you're the outdoor type. It may also help you get some exercise before you consume all those calories at Christmas dinner.
A gift of service, an act of kindness as a couple is ALWAYS a good idea, whether it's Christmas or not.
Writing a thank you note to someone who has influenced your relationship for good this year. Reviewing the year in thankfulness for all that God has done for you as a couple. Both of these will open up a beautiful conversation about His goodness.
Sharing a truth you have learned about God. Choosing a new life verse for the upcoming year. Talking about what God is doing in your life and what you'd like to see Him do in the future. These are the traditions that tug at my heartstrings. That's actually three different traditions on the list, but I've combined them into one and this is what we will be doing on Christmas morning.
Traditions are super important for families and for couples. They foster both unity and bonding and promote togetherness. Marriage isn’t always easy, we all know that. Taking the time to create traditions and memories, just the two of you, will do wonders for marriage. It will also give you lots of good memories to look back on, and when these traditions and memories are centered around God, that's even better!
We hope you'll use the ideas on this list as a springboard of inspiration and start your own new Christmas tradition this season. Traditions can be sweet, silly, romantic or all of these. They don’t last if they're forced, so find one that works for you and your spouse. It may take some trial and error. Some of the best traditions are unplanned and start naturally. Even if you have no plan, be sure to set aside some time to spend with your spouse this Christmas. If you are one of those couples who are unable to be together on Christmas day, make your own Christmas celebration on whatever day you can be together.
The most important thing about what we celebrate at Christmas was established over 2000 years ago when God came down to dwell with His creation! So this Christmas, let's celebrate that unconditional love and let's also celebrate togetherness as a couple!
What traditions do you and your spouse share?
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