In an evening filled with the Spirit and raw emotion, He whispered to me through the vessel of a sister the purpose for which I had been created. With what I have and will see, I am to speak and create, and in that discover my blessing. However, flash forward six months and I am huddled up in a heap on the front porch of my first big-girl house, sobbing at midnight because it was all simply too much. I had sensed the burden for years, but could never determine its origin or identity. When Hannah spoke to me, I began to understand, but now that I was back in the field I was raised in, I did not know what to do with the revelation. The pouring out – the speaking and creating with which I was designed to bless and serve – were coming from my own shallow pond of strength. I would allow Him to give me His topic, then fill it in with my words and judge the reaction according to a self-perceived dosage of talent. It would originate from Him, but get polluted along the way, leaving me frustrated, burnt out, confused and crying.
A year later, my husband and I lie exhausted after fleeing a hurricane in the one place we could find power and running water- on an air mattress in an upstairs office at the church where we served. After setting up camp there on Thursday, the Lord gave us our next assignment that Sunday. We were to move to California. While in the process of packing up and saying goodbye the excitement never waned, the familiar theme kept rising up in the form of what has proven to be my life’s most pervasive question: Am I enough? Each time I received the same answer: Of course not, because it’s not about me.
Do you realize how hard that is to learn? As the only daughter? As my daddy’s baby? As the pastor’s daughter raised the sweetheart of the congregation? I can tell myself as much as I want that it is not about me, but when it comes to the grit of things, there is a part of me that will always think that it is.
But before I am anything else, I am a Christian. From the moment I was born I was on a sort of pedestal. I would breathe and to some it was miraculous. I would yawn and to others it was sin. And then I went to YWAM and the proverbial plastic tiara proved transparent in the Pacific breeze, and I was worn out and without identity. For all my years either directly rebelling against the PK stereotypes or picking one to decidedly play into, while trying to figure out life, I had found my identity in the diadem rather than the Maker of my soul. So what happened when no one could see the thin little outline framing my artificial crown? I shut down. I came home and tried to stand back up but found I was crippled and dirty and confused. But during that time of paralysis, the Lord was slowly cleansing my knees, straightening my bones and picking the broken shards of plastic out of my hair. When I hit the ground, so did the chaplet, and in the confrontation it broke.
The next year and a half – my time in Miami, with all the sidewalk tears and air mattress edicts – was about learning to hold my neck without the weight. Often I’d reach for other things to place there instead – a sewing machine here, a bit of dirt formed in the shape of a trial there – but in His grace He’d take it down and readjust my neck held crooked for the old balancing act. He was never offended, never frustrated that I had just dumped a mudpie into the hair He had just washed. He just smiled (sometimes I think He chuckled), and kept the shampoo close.
When we were reassigned to California, a new lesson began for the new season. Now I was to learn to say my name, and nothing else; to present myself as the same girl who sat alone with Jesus in a tree instead of the one poising a synthetic wreath with synthetic gems tilting slightly off my head, staring at you sideways, searching for eye contact through the shadow of the falling crown. I’m learning what it means to truly find my identity in Christ and nothing else. I’m learning how to thrive.
So what does it mean that I am a Christian first? It means that He has a waterfall gushing through these carbon bones. It means my entire being is made up of those moments sitting with Him, where His love flows into me just to rain on someone else as I do as He instructs, and perhaps those droplets of Living Water can help lead to their eternal life. Yet even as I make these notes, the girl who is used to the plastic crown cringes within me at the Christianese of it all and the amount of “I’s” written down. She is used to looking at her own talent and performance, and now Satan knows he can use that to stop my hands and mouth from doing as commanded.
That is what it all comes back to. It is not about me. It is not about my talent or performance but pouring out what He has put in me in the way He assigns, without worrying if my voice sounds like the old princess or if any of those old dregs of manufactured dignity come falling out of my hair. They will. The plastic polluted me. It is a part of my broken humanity. But it is not my identity. He is, and He alone.
What’s the plastic polluting the garden of your identity? Would you bring it to Him?
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have overcome the world.”
“For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”