When You Feel You've Lost Who You Are

There I was, standing on the edge of the ship, looking out across the incredible Alaska Mountains and taking in just how great and creative our God is. But there's something about getting closer to God that draws us to understand ourselves better, and I began to realize that I didn't know myself quite as much as I would have thought.  Somewhere on the road of frustration and stress, I had forgotten who I was and began to see myself through the murky lens of my mistakes. None of us are perfect.

There I was, standing on the edge of the ship, looking out across the incredible Alaska Mountains and taking in just how great and creative our God is. But there's something about getting closer to God that draws us to understand ourselves better, and I began to realize that I didn't know myself quite as much as I would have thought. 

Somewhere on the road of frustration and stress, I had forgotten who I was and began to see myself through the murky lens of my mistakes. None of us are perfect. That should come as no surprise. So then why do we pretend that we are expected to live like it? 

Have you ever been so stressed out and anxious that you stop to look at yourself and you say, "Who is this crazy person?" So much of who we are gets lost on the road of frustration and striving. But who you are is far too important and needed to let slip away. 


 

"When we see ourselves through our performance, we set our own hearts up to be disappointed in ourselves when the truth is we are loved without measure, accepted without strings and adored beyond our actions."

 

The enemy wants you to look at your life and judge yourself based on your mistakes. God has already taken your life and covered it in His grace. We grasp this when it comes to receiving our salvation but we tend to ignore this when it comes to the rest of our lives. 

Our attitude and actions are often determined by how we see ourselves. If you see yourself as a mistake, a sinner, an outcast, a burden etc... then your attitude will reflect what you believe and you'll walk, talk and act in the same way. Take a moment to step away from everything you don't like about yourself, all of your mistakes, frustrations, procrastinations, and anything else that you or someone else has given you a hard time for, and see yourself as God's beloved, royal daughter. Can you even picture it? 

This is our resting place. This is who we are, regardless of how we act. Once we truly understand our unwavering and everlasting identity, we will have the strength and courage to walk that out into our lives. Mistakes may come and laugh in your face, but you are NOT a mistake. Think about who you are, thank God for His love and grace. Then pick yourself up, throw your shoulders back and walk away from the mess. 

I have to admit that this hasn't always been easy for me. Our flesh loves to be a victim and the more you give into this mentality, it seems like the easier it get's to default there. It would get to the point where I would wonder what is so wrong with me. I owned my mistakes instead of releasing them. 

And because I wasn't letting myself off the hook, I assumed everyone else was judging me too. But guess what... they weren't! 

We truly are our own worse judge. It's a bit ridiculous. 


 

"No matter how many mistakes you make or where you fall short, your identity stays the same."

 

We can take comfort in knowing that who we are isn't as fragile as our emotions. I think we would all be in big trouble if who we are depended upon how we felt. Thank God for His grace in our lives that not only picks us up and dusts us off, but also fills us with strength and courage to move forward and into all of the good that He has in store for us. So, let your mistakes drip off you like water and keep on walking not towards perfection, but towards the perfect King of your heart. 

xxo, 
Jess

When Your Problems Seem Too Big

So lately, there’s been this icky feeling that tries to creep up on me when I’m exhausted and vulnerable from the day. It’s the feeling that whatever my day, week or month is bringing me, I’m not strong enough, creative enough, or smart enough to handle it. Can you relate?

It’s as if everything in my life that should be inspiring and propelling me forward is instead bringing my heart to a screeching halt as it looks at the challenges as “too big” for me to handle. My mind runs away with thoughts like “no way I can handle this interview” or “I have too many deadlines. I know I’m going to fail” or my least favorite “I’m not cut out for this after all. Maybe I should just give up…”

The battle in our minds is a constant and brutal attack on the very strength of our hearts. What we believe about ourselves determines where we will choose to draw our strength from and when we look to ourselves as our source, then we will ALWAYS come up short. It’s only when we turn to Jesus to be our strength, our creativity, and our wisdom will we experience victory over all of our shortcomings.

But we know this, right? So WHY is it so dang hard?

I believe that when we’re younger, for those of use who were blessed to be saved at an early age, we developed this cookie-cutter, storybook image of Jesus that feeds our little hearts well but doesn’t translate into out adult world with our adult problems. After all, that cartoon Jesus that I see in my old Precious Moments bible doesn’t look like he could handle the storms in my life today. Subconsciously, he becomes more of a memory and less of a reality in our lives.

But then I came across this little passage in the 3rd installment of The Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian and I began to realize something I had forgotten.

And then—oh joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him.
 But for the movement of his tail he might have been a stone lion, but Lucy never thought of that. She never stopped to think whether he was a friendly lion or not. She rushed to him. She felt her heart would burst if she lost a moment. And the next thing she knew was that she was kissing him and putting her arms as far round his neck as she could and burying her face in the beautiful rich silkiness of his mane.
 “Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”
 The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face.
 “Welcome, child,” he said.
 “Aslan, said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
 “That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
 “Not because you are?”
 “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

This is such a beautiful picture of both how tenderly Jesus loves us and how big he truly is in our lives. “Every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” The Jesus who met you in the Sunday school classroom is the same Jesus who can handle your broken heart, your broken family and your broken life. I don’t believe that Jesus physically gets bigger and stronger as you grow older, but your realization of him—his power, strength, might and glory—gets bigger and bigger.

Your drinking problem… He’s bigger

Your broken family… He’s bigger

Your screwed up love life… He’s bigger

Your cutting problem… He’s bigger

Your failed career… He’s bigger

Your shame and condemnation… He’s bigger

And guess what else… HE CARES!

Just like Aslan is with little Lucy, Jesus longs to take you in his arms, set you down in a wide open space, and say, “I’m here. Tell me what’s wrong. Because no matter what it is, I’m bigger.” He longs to know your heart and wants you to share everything your uncertain or scared about and then trust him enough to place it in his hands, knowing it’s the safest place it could be.

The struggles we face in our life, the challenges that seem too daunting for us to handle, were meant to draw us to the One who has all the strength we need to handle it, and to handle it well. Your problems are not too big (or too small) for Jesus to take care of. And the more steps we take in faith to put our trust in what He can do, the more we will see him for who he is—the mighty King who conquered ALL. And he’ll never stop growing bigger and bigger in our lives. 

Twenty-Five and the Quarter Life Crisis

Twenty-five... 

I have been alive for literally a quarter of a century! It just sounds so much more surreal when you put it that way, doesn't it? I don't know about you, but I still don't feel old enough to be an adult. And yet, life can sometimes feel like one big deadline that I'm always striving to accomplish. In the midst of all the craziness in day to day agendas, it's easy to get lost in what I have yet to accomplish and how much more of me it will take to get there. Sometimes, life feels like a treadmill that gets faster without your consent, almost like you're treading water, just trying to keep your head above the waves. 

Goals get dimmer, vision gets filtered through duties and obligations, but in the midst of the chaos we rarely realize what's happening. It's when we begin to let ourselves dream of what we truly want that we realize life is about more than just achieving the next deadline. Rather it's a continuous journey, stretching and molding us into the magnificent creatures we were designed to be. 

"Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim." -Tyler Knott Gregson

With every passing year, the capacity for our lives doesn't diminish, but expands. As we grow older, we are able to reach new heights, depths, and understandings that we never were able to grasp before. True, it can often feel like, "God has given me too much to handle... again!" But this is just what the enemy wants you to think. You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it, not because of your strength, but because of the strength of the one who lies within you. He is the one who carefully and strategically placed those dreams, desires and drives in your heart, creating a sort of a holy dissatisfaction with anything less. These dreams were not meant to wear you out, drag you down and cause you to feel like you don't have what it takes. But rather, they were meant to drive you to someone much bigger than you, who is able to accomplish much greater things in your life. 

In the years ahead, I want to view my days not as simply a means to an end, but a journey to lean in to, to learn from and to enjoy. I dare you to not meditate on what lies behind but rather on what lies ahead, squinting into the brightness of your future with a peaceful assurance that you will greet it with a smile.

Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honor of being called by God in Christ. –Philippians 3:12-14 (PHILLIPS)

 

When You're Starting a New Season

All of us crave new seasons in life. Whether out of boredom, unrest or struggles, the idea of starting fresh appeases the restlessness inside of our hearts. But one of the questions is, what do we do in a new season once we have it?

These past five months have been COMPLETELY new for me: getting married to my best friend, working full-time with my new husband two offices away, learning to cook, clean, host, and manage our money for two. I understood all of this would happen once I got married, but I guess I had this idea that when we said “I Do” that magic fairy dust would fall on us from above and suddenly, I would be fully able to carry out the duties of a wife… without struggling.

I quickly started to see that I was wrong.

New seasons are exciting but they also can feel daunting and we’re often left wondering if we really have what it takes after all. Everything seems so new and foreign and suddenly, the life you once lived is not the life you live anymore. I begin to wonder if I really took full advantage of my previous season and sometimes wish I could translate back in time to better prepare myself for this season and then translate back. But I have to believe that if God brought me to this place, no matter how scary it may seem, I can handle it and not just handle it, but thrive in it.

It’s in moments like these, when we are faced with something so beyond ourselves, that we must run to a God that is so much bigger than us. Take heart in knowing that He did not bring you to where you are so you could fail, but so that you would turn to Him and draw from his strength and power.

In Ephesians 1, Paul shares, what has been for me, the very strength I draw from in this new and unfamiliar season: 

I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! All this energy issues from Christ…

Ephesians 1:18-20 MSG

Endless energy, boundless strength… yeah, I could use a little more of that please!

And notice that it says, “All this energy issues from Christ…” When I lean into Christ and his finished work, I not only have access to His strength, but boundless strength, not only His energy, but endless energy. He truly is a God of more than enough!

Whatever new season you find yourself in, embrace it not as an opportunity for you to fail, but an opportunity for God to show Himself mighty in your life. It’s really just another chance for Him to reveal to you how good He is and another chance for you, as his beloved daughter, to run into His arms and remember whose you are. So lift that head up, pop those shoulders back and strut through this season knowing that you are exactly where you need to be. It won’t be long till your next season will come and you’ll wonder what you were so afraid of.

Write this season well :)

xxo,

Jess