Originally published Tuesday, 30 April 2019.
I’ve always been fascinated by the people in my life who really know who they are. Unapologetically, yet with much love and grace, they know their purpose, are rarely swayed by another’s opinion of them, and move through life with ease. These people always have incredible stories filled with heartbreak and desperation, followed by a Jesus-in-the-mix miracle. Anyone who has met Jesus in a pit and has been launched out by him knowst, we are never the same afterward.
My life has been a rollercoastery battle of being confident in who I am and tumbling off into the abyss because one person who doesn’t actually know me gave me a critique. Identity does some wonky things to our hearts when placed in the wrong spaces, and I am no stranger to this. I look back over the tapestry of my life and can mark those places Jesus weaved beauty from chaos, intricate lines of fragile lace yet stronger when woven together. I see my self-identified markers of hopeless, broken, flawed, unworthy, and unloved, followed by all of my Jesus-in-the-mix miracles.
Circumstances, roles, and seasons of our lives are loud yet flawed indicators of who we are. If you’re anything like me, you get caught up in the area God has you: wife, friend, mother, leader… and suddenly things that should never hold your identity now do. When ugly moments in life bump up against your specific identity-held role (as they will), don’t you get rocked back a little harder, take it a little more personally?
When we cling to the identity of what we do rather than who we belong to, those ugly moments feel a lot like fuel to the fire already brimming in your heart. Those roles we place our identity in not only are a source of excitement and purpose for our flesh, they are the strongest source of insecurity in our souls.
I was studying the book of Ruth (side note: don’t you just love finding Jesus all over the Old Testament? It’s one of my favorite areas to study) and found myself relating to Naomi in profound ways. She went against the grain traveling to Moab through the wilderness from the Promised Land—the exact opposite direction of how Israel was delivered, searching for provision in a famine. Every time we look to something else – a role, person, circumstance, addiction – rather than to Jesus to satisfy the longing of our heart, we begin that backward wilderness walk searching for provision, just like Naomi. They sought after provision not fully trusting Jehovah Jireh—God our Provider.
Jesus takes a pretty loud stance and proclaims to the crowd surrounding Him a vital piece of his identity. In John 6:35 we see the scene unfold, “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
It is in this very statement Jesus claims that He is our provision, the One we need to satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst in this life. The same Jesus born in the city of Bethlehem, which means “house of Bread”. From the very beginning, Jesus has always been our breadwinner: the provider of our every need, our every hurt, our every twisted moment that tries to take a stake in the ground of our identity.
The Israelites would have understood this picture after growing up hearing stories of their ancestors receiving provision in the wilderness, He gave them bread from Heaven to eat. Ancestors who even with this miraculous provision questioned God’s goodness, doubted their journey, and continued wandering the desert for 40 years. The Israelites saw themselves as slaves, incapable of experiencing the goodness of God—labeling themselves unworthy. What labels have you given yourself that God has never given you?
After 5 years of infertility and now having a child in our home through foster care, I am forever grateful for the hard identity work God helped me through. For 5 years I lost my worth as a woman because my womb was barren, thinking “my body can’t even do the one thing it was created to do!” In that moment, Jesus whispered something that changed my life: “You were created to love and worship me.” Love him. Worship him. These are two things that this body can do no matter how broken it feels. I am God’s beloved. I am chosen. I am redeemed. I am strong. I am worthy. I am forgiven. I had to repeat my own “I Am” statements that God has given each one of us throughout His Word to begin replacing all the lying labels I placed on myself through my hurt.
Now I have the opportunity to teach a 9-year-old boy about his identity, when he struggles to know who he truly is. When we operate out of brokenness, we say statements in pain. When this sweet boy shouts my biggest insecurity, “You’re not my real mom. You’re not even a mother!”, I am able to love him well through his pain. This statement did not rock me, not one bit, because I know my identity is not placed in the role of mother. Or infertile woman. Or wife. Or friend. Or leader. My identity is held in the Provision, the Bread of Life, the One who satisfies.
When you begin to learn who Jesus is, the twisty brokenness from someone else inspires your compassion, not your anger. When you recognize Jesus as Provider, you can breathe a big sigh of relief knowing that He has already provided you your identity—you didn’t earn it, you don’t have to work for it, you don’t have to pay for it. It’s already been covered.
My prayer for you is that the circumstance or role in your life that popped up as soon as you began reading this,, the area that holds more claim in your heart than it should, would begin to be surrendered. Look to Jesus and let Him provide the marker of who you are, to who you belong, and that you may see His provision through every forward step to the Promised Land.
Brittney is a married, 30-something, laid down lover of Jesus. She writes at her blogand is full of book recommendations, recipes, and laughter, she chases the things that bring her joy in the margin. Married for 6 years, trying to conceive for 4, Brittney has found herself passionate about encouraging women on the infertility journey through raw transparency and clinging to Jesus. Always seeking laughter and purpose in the pain, Brittney jumps at the chance to do the wild things Jesus asks her to do.