Where I am whole and free…

My journey has been a story of searching. Searching for identity, searching for belonging. Trying to figure where I fit. As my previous post explains, my “frochronicles” have been about more than hair; they have been about owning who I am, as I am, how God designed me. From head to toe. No apologies.

When I first began this blog, I toiled over a name. I have tried blogging for years, and have always hit a wall, not quite sure where the process was leading. Was there a purpose to my writing? What is my primary message? What is the mission or vision behind the words? The title I settled on was “Encourage to Wholeness”. But what does that even mean?

In my pursuit to figure this out, I’ve made fruitless attempts to emulate different styles of bloggers. The social justice blogger; the political commentator blogger; the how-to-be-a-godly-woman blogger; the theology professional blogger; the God’s-got-a-plan-for-your-life blogger. Each attempt ends in failure. Because I am none of these. And trying to fit into these molds has left me feeling awkward, frustrated. Because I was not meant to be any of those bloggers. I’m saying nothing against them in affirming that; we need all these various voices and more. But that is not the voice I’ve been given. That is not the fire that burns in my belly. Strands of all the above mentioned styles run through my writing; but none are my true heartbeat.

Back to my title…

Encourage to Wholeness. What does that mean? It means to encourage a move toward an identity that is fully rooted in Christ, not in the various identities of this world. It means living into the freedom we have in Christ.

That is my true heartbeat.

There is nothing new about this message. It is the Gospel message. We are new creations in Christ; we are one in Him; we are children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. If you name the name of Jesus, your primary identity is child of God. By ourselves, we are broken and fragmented by all the identities and categories put upon us by our culture. It is the result of being broken by sin, and living in a world broken by sin. My personal struggle with identity originates here. But in Christ I find peace. In Christ, I find joy. In Christ, I find refuge, a place where I am whole and free.

That is the vision of this blog. That is the mission of my writing.

A few weeks ago, one of the elders of my church preached a message about identity. His primary text was Galatians 3:26-29:

“..for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (ESV)

He used the imagery of buckets to describe the different identities we carry with us. We have a gender bucket, a racial/ethnic bucket, a familial bucket, a friend bucket, a work bucket, and so forth. The point of this passage is not that we lose these identities when we come to Christ, or that they somehow disappear. The message is that all these other “buckets” are now placed inside the larger “bucket” of being “in Christ”. How I choose to live out my other identities must be shaped by and subordinated to this primary identity of being in Christ, so that, no matter what “bucket” I am drawing from, people see Christ’s character in me. My life should be hidden in His; my life should be all about Him.

Again, there is nothing new about this message. But it requires repetition and reminder. We so easily forget. We get consumed by what is right here before us and lose perspective on what is true. We forget what makes us whole and free. That is why we need encouragement. We need to encourage one another to wholeness.

So as I take my steps along this journey, I want to encourage you, my fellow sojourners, to continue on toward freedom and wholeness in Him.

Until next time, grace and peace…

 

Enough…

There comes a point when you are just done. You hit a wall and can go no further. For me, it was this weekend – I came to a place where I was just over myself. I think my flesh has been having a field day with me, and the bitterness, cynicism and doubts that I have allowed to fester have been contributing to its takeover of my heart and life. I have been trying to fit the world into my theology, wanting things to be different than they actually are. I was fighting what I knew at the outset was a losing battle: wrestling with God about things I didn’t like or didn’t want. Or that I was angry about or thought were oh so unfair.

I felt the walls closing in, and I wanted out. But “out” felt even more oppressive than being “in”, and I hit rock bottom on Friday night. None of my outrage was creating anything positive, and it certainly was not leading toward anything resembling a solution. As hot tears ran down my face, I cried out to God, and asked what shall I do? The answer was so simple, I almost laugh at the absurdity of it all.
As the untwisting of the pretzel that had become my soul began, I realized that all I needed to do was return.
Return to the Lord. Return to His Word. Return to grace.
I wonder if you can relate to my story. I share it so that, if by chance you can, you may find hope and a reminder that God has not forgotten you.
To speak (or write) about it now, seems so abrupt, so clean. Like it all happened in a span of two weeks and now all is well. But nothing could be further from the truth. This has been a long time coming – years in the making. I simply could not name it, could not put words to it. Hence, the silence that haunted my blog. The desert in which I resided saw no relief – or so it seemed – and my most cherished outlet was cut off completely. There were no words to write, no prayers to utter that could touch it. I was swallowed up by my doubt, my anger, my frustration and cynicism. And it shut up my heart, my mind and my mouth, leaving me literally speechless.
Outwardly, I looked absolutely normal. I have this whole Christian thing down – I know the language, the moves, the right moments in worship to raise my hands. There were moments where I could sense it, where a small glimpse of light would invade and the inward matched my outward expression. But it was few and far between. Partly because of pride – I have to save face after all – and partly because I didn’t know what else to do, I pressed forward. Each brick wall would harden me further, but to what end? I didn’t understand it.
My prayers would either bounce back to me or rise up into the air, seemingly going nowhere, received by no one, achieving nothing. All the normal Christian answers felt fake, lifeless; I became completely disaffected by any of them. But that fake plastic smile never left my lips. Who could know of what I was really going through? No one; I had to keep it to myself.
I can’t point to one particular thing that has brought me here. Wallowing in the mud seems to have brought me to a place of epiphany, or more bluntly, a “duh” moment. If I had a Nerf bat, I’d knock myself in the head with it…it was all seemed so completely and absurdly unnecessary.
Every December I write out a prayer for the new year, usually consisting of goals I’d like to achieve or prayers I’d like answered. This year was very different. Instead of goals and specific prayers, a phrase keep turning over in my mind as I thought about 2015: No more pretending. It occurred to me this weekend that God might actually be taking that seriously. Shocking, huh? You know that cliché, “be careful what you wish for…”? I’m living that right now…in spades! When the masks come off, and you see what’s really underneath, it is not pretty. I wanted to run, but there was no escape from it. To use a familiar phrase, you come to the end of yourself and recognize that all the things that you used to prop yourself up were worthless, fleeting, and useless to help you find the meaning and purpose you were looking for.
But as the masks fall off and I come face to face with what resides in my heart, I feel a sense of relief. Keeping so many balls in the air at once is exhausting. But beyond that, I found the one thing that I had taken for granted all these years is actually breathing life into me afresh.
Grace. How utterly simple. 
My previous post was a list of all the things that I have been using to try to define myself, to give worth and purpose to my life. All of them have left me empty and parched, desperate for even a drop of cool water on my tongue. But only grace – grace poured out from a loving Father who knows all that is hidden deep within but still loves me – can give worth and purpose to me, can define and shape me to truly live as I was meant to live. And although I will spend the rest of my life working out the beautiful reality of this salvation I have found in love of my Father poured out in the blood of His Son and my Lord, I can rest in today this really is enough.
He is enough for me…always…