Grief & Joy Can Coexist

While I suffered the darkest years of chronic pain, I learned a lot about grief, about loss. It was hard to live inside a day experiencing so much physical pain. I hung up my dreams and resigned myself to a short life. I let my broken body rule my emotions. I grieved in the wrong way — without God. I forsook joy though I had every reason to know it. I became bitter and let physical pain wipe out gratitude.

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We have all been there in one way or another. We have lamented without God, and in the long process of heartache, we forget the joy we have in Him. Somewhere along the way, I learned that grief and joy can coexist. I can feel both.

THANKFUL: Identity Crisis Solved

Years ago, I would have stolen someone else’s identity if I could have. Why?

Because I didn’t love myself and hated who I was.Identity-in-Christ1

Being me was never good enough or even “ok.”

I wanted so desperately to be told who I was. Why?

Because I didn’t know. I didn’t know what that looked like.

I had no concept of anything such as an “identity.”

So, I learned to rely on and took in too often the opinions of others (that were not Godly opinions and full of blessings). I became who I needed to be for those people in order to say I had an identity or because it brought attention to me that I desired so deeply.

  • If I needed to deny things I liked in order to fit in- ok!
  • If I needed to give and give until I had nothing else to give – ok!
  • If I needed to be the used and abused – ok! Sign me up!
  • If I thought it (whatever it was) would make people (especially men) love me – I was all in.

 

So, in order to get an identity – I did what I knew best at the time.

I decided in my own strength, that I would fix the situation.

Have you ever done that? Tried to take care of a situation yourself and failed.

Looking back on my life (Before Christ), I can see patterns and behaviors that screamed “I don’t know who I am and whoever this person is that I am – I hate her!” I overdid and under did things. I overdid to get recognition and under did because I didn’t want to overdo it and then “be too much to handle.” There was no balance.

The pain of rejection still hurt at times. I tried so hard to work for what I called “acceptance” and unconditional love by doing anything necessary.

Unconditional love and acceptance  can only come from God.

With everything, it’s not what you do, but your reason behind it.

I didn’t understand that. My reasons for doing a lot of things had been wrapped up in pride and brokenness of heart. (Anytime you make decisions as a result of a broken heart, it will always leave you more empty than you were before.) One of my favorite teachers often says, You can take that one to the emotional bank.

No group, no job, no organization, no nothing can accept me nor you like Christ. No person can give you your identity, purpose, and unconditional love.  It took me a long time to know that that’s the role of Christ and the authority belongs to Him. He was the one who formed us in the womb!

Thinking of times I wanted “in” to a group or a special relationship – yet wasn’t selected or “chosen” often haunted me.

What’s wrong with me? Why don’t they want me? Why won’t they love me?

My self-esteem was so low. I didn’t like the way I looked or dressed.  I often asked God, “Why did you make me like this if no one was going to like me or love me?” I felt like Romans 9:20-21 that says,

“But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

I wonder if any of you have you ever met people who, at times, come across as though their identity is wrapped up in someone or something, like a job or their status in a group? As though it made them? These people take offense at the simplest thing when they feel ignored and can demand that people respect them. These people often feel mistreated, overlooked, and are often on the defensive (and paranoid if you will, as if someone is out to get them (and most of the time, they are not.)  These people (who are deeply insecure), sometimes, believe they can only get respect by constantly reminding people that they are in charge or in control. It makes them feel important. When I meet people like this, I wonder… “Who gave you your identity? Surely it’s not in this job, this person, this thing, etc.”

These people spend a lot of time waiting for someone or something to give them a purpose that God has already given them…if they seek Him.

The bottom line is that we can’t force people to love us the way we need to be loved. We can’t force people to see the beauty and value in us. If we tried to do that, we would be let down and angry all the time.  (That was my issue)

We can’t even force Christ to love us.

As a result of God’s love for us and our love for Him, we will show compassion and do works on this Earth, but those works alone can’t save us or make Him love us more or less. We can’t sweet talk Him into loving us, but He does, even in our sin. Then, He delivers us from our sin.

Who wouldn’t want a love like that?

Who wouldn’t want someone like that to give us our identity?

I know I would want it. What about you?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8

Set free in Christ,
Katrina