Monday, September 12, 2005

Identity

About four years ago when I was working with my church’s youth group, I was asked to speak at a retreat put on by high school girls. They asked me to speak about identity. I remember thinking that was an ironic topic for me to be talking about at the time because that was something I was struggling deeply with myself. It ended up that I didn’t get a chance to speak but I ran across my notes the other day and it got me thinking.

The following is a conglomeration of those notes and some things I have since learned. Some of this gets into my thoughts and my heart and I will admit I was a bit hesitant about putting it out there. It is one thing to share this with a group of high school girls but it’s a whole other thing to put it out there for the world to read. I’m being vulnerable because I think it’s an important topic so it’s worth it to me.

Who am I?

That question haunts my thoughts. And when it seems I’ve found the answers, moments of doubt and confusion throw off all my security in who I think I am.

This world is primed and ready to provide all kinds of answers to who we are. In fact, for girls it is almost too easy to get caught in the identity buffet trap, to look out to this world to find something to answer that question, to fill that desire.

I will admit that I’ve gone to the identity buffet too many times and tried too many of the options. Oh there are some that don’t look good at all (much like the macaroni and cheese with the ham chunks – not appealing), but there are many things that catch my attention and I think that they will appease that hunger inside of me. The problem with the buffet is that you never leave happy. You keep going back to try something new because each one leaves you unsatisfied. With so many options nothing seems to be the perfect thing.

That’s how this world is with identity. There are so many options, so many choices, and yet nothing in this world will satisfy you. That’s why this world offers identity as a buffet. Since nothing will be the all consuming one, you have to try a little bit of everything and yet you still come up empty.

Oh and I’ve done my share of sampling. Hmm, let’s see: intelligence, beauty, image, talents, friendships, relationships, and so many more. That’s the way the game goes, I keep trying different things, they keep coming up short and I am left feeling empty and moving on to the next thing. I could share with you so many stories of how I’ve tried to form my identity from something this world offers, and I will admit I’ve even tried to form it from things that are considered Christian. That becomes a big problem because then I can’t understand why my identity isn’t complete when I’m filling it with all the Christian things, good things, and yet they are just still things.

A few years ago I was in a place of really searching for who I was. I will fully admit I felt lost and vacant. There was emptiness inside of me that I really hadn’t ever felt before and it ached.

I was at a point when the bareness of those things that I had placed my identity in was coming to light and I was quickly left with nothing to form my identity from. The heart of the issue was that I wanted to be loved by someone. I wanted to feel special and cared for and claimed. This was and is the desire of my heart.

See my heart knew that the type of love I was looking for wouldn’t and couldn’t come from a person on this earth. My need was too great for any one person to fill. It was a moment when my heart really cried out to the Lord for an answer.

The following is really just a dictation of my thoughts at that moment. I apologize in advance for the length, for the lack of punctuation, and the lack of complete sentences but I don’t want to edit it for fear that I will change the truth that unfolded to me at that time. Again this is me being vulnerable so bear with me as I lay out a bit of my heart.

The plight of the loved
How often is it that we don’t realize God’s love for us, His utter desire to know us, to have us know Him? This world, our lives, all of it was for Him to share His perfect love with something. As we desire so much to be loved, He desire so much to love, and we were chosen for that love.

Out of all creation, out of all people, out of all that we will never know that is, He chose us, He chose me, to love with His immeasurable love. He desired our hearts before time. He loved us perfectly before we even were. And when we did not love him in return, He continued to love and continued to pursue us, even to His death.

And while that can seem so far away, and so long ago, and so separated from us no, here in the situations we are in, in the pain we have, He knew out face on that day, He saw our hearts on that cross, and I know he spoke our names in His heart as he took our pain, took our burden as an act of love. It wasn’t an act of power, it wasn’t a show of His authority, it was an act of love. A love so great that we will never fully know the depth of it on this earth.

And He continues to pursue us. From our first breath, He is there loving us, caring for us, searching out our heart, calling our name, desiring for us to return His love. And the awful thing is we usually don’t. We don’t know how to love Him in return. We don’t know how to even believe His love. We doubt, we question, we feel unworthy and we are fed a lie that we aren’t worthy, that He doesn’t love us. And we begin to believe it and we listen to that voice more than the one that is telling us He does love, He does love us, and He continues to love us even when we don’t love Him back.

We search through our lives to find that love, find that acceptance, find that peace and knowledge of feeling that we are found in pleasure, and we never find it in this world. We find glimpses of it and we hold on to those and then they fade away and we convince ourselves that it can’t be there, that love cannot be that strong, that forgiving, that accepting, that real. It is a hope that will never be fulfilled.

But God continues to love us through this and He continues to pursue us with a vengeance that we cannot understand. He has already claimed our heart His won and He will not let anything take us away from Him. And all of this because He loves us and He always will.

My heart never quite understood that. I knew God as my Lord, I knew him as my Savior, I even could see him as my Father, but I never really considered Him as my Love and that He considered me as His love.

His love has no conditions. Do we really understand what that means? There is no way to know it until you feel His love when you feel so far away from Him. When you see yourself for who the world paints you as. When you have listened to the lies of the devil and believed the worst he can say about you.

And yet, you still hear the voice of your Maker, your Creator, the One who desires you more than you desire Him. Who reaches out to you when you have turned your back on Him. The One who promises to never leave and when you think He has, He is there with that incomprehensible love to call you back to His arms. Where you belong. Where you find all those things that your heart longs for in Him, and Him alone. In His love.



So back to the original question.

Who we are? What is my identity?

This is a hard truth to come to terms with. It’s something I struggle with the moment I wake each morning. It is something I will struggle with each day of my life. But it is a good struggle, a worthy one. It makes me lift my eyes up past myself to Him.

Where does our identity in fact lie, but in our Creator’s eyes, in His hands that formed us, in His heart that loves us even with everything that we are. Our identity is in Him. Our identity is Him.

Mercy Me has a song called Spoken For. I will admit I forgot all about it until Steve put it up on his site. The moment I heard the words again I began to cry. Not out of despair but out of hope, out of thankfulness, out of love.

Take this world from me
I don’t need it anymore
I am finally free
My heart is spoken for

Oh, and I praise You
Oh, and I worship You

Covered by a love divine

Child of the risen Lord
To hear You say, “This one’s Mine,”
My heart is spoken for

Now I have a peace

That I’ve never known before
I find myself complete
My heart is spoken for
By the power of the cross
You’ve taken what was lost
And made it fully Yours
And I have been redeemed
By You who spoke to me
Now I am spoken for

23 Comments:

Blogger Holly said...

Beautiful. Thanks for Sharing Katie! I look forward to getting together with you sometime soon

Holly

9/12/2005 1:36 PM  
Blogger Sydney said...

Wow... I have to come back and read this again, so i will be back!

9/12/2005 1:40 PM  
Blogger steve said...

can i just say AMEN

That was perfect

9/12/2005 2:15 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Holly - thanks and me too.

Syd - come back.

Steve - yes and thank you.

9/12/2005 2:20 PM  
Blogger Amstaff Mom said...

K-T,

We talked a bit about this the other day, how I so admire you in your strength. So many look to others to fill the void of love that only comes from the unconditional love of the Savior.

I was eating a Golden Delicious apple when I started reading your post and I realized half way through it that I had stopped chewing. This was such a true and real post. And most of all, it came from your heart. This quote really spoke to me, "He knew out face on that day, He saw our hearts on that cross, and I know he spoke our names in His heart as he took our pain, took our burden as an act of love." It reminded me of one of the scenes in the Passion of the Christ, when it just HIT me how much He truly loved me.

I realize how many times I've listened to the lies that He couldn't really love me, a sinner.

I am still learning that my true identity is that I am the daughter of the Savior.

Right now, as I type this, Third Day is on the radio.

This is my story,
This is my song,
Praising my Savior,
All the day long.

9/12/2005 2:47 PM  
Blogger Cav said...

I think the key to living a life of christian growth is to realize this is not my life per se, but His. Thus you gain your idenity.

I hope you had a nice weekend. :)

9/12/2005 2:48 PM  
Blogger Cav said...

blessed assurance....ahh...

if i every get hitched, I think I like that song.

9/12/2005 2:49 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

JCol - finish the apple. No really, thanks for your encouragement. Strength is not a word I might choose for myself, I am all to aware of my weakness. I'm glad that this truth touched you, it makes it worth it to be vulnerable and real.

You are a blessed daughter of the Savior and He loves you beyond what you can know.

We're all learning, I do it everyday.

9/12/2005 2:52 PM  
Blogger Amstaff Mom said...

You're the best, K-T.

The best.

And the apple is all gone now.

Geez Louise! ufqqopxw!

9/12/2005 3:10 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

And that, my friend, is why I will always feel restless... until I am home and I can experience His Love first hand. This post rocked on so many levels. I don't even know where to begin. I liked the rambling of thoughts that were unaltered. I liked the honesty and humility as you laid those thoughts out there... I liked how it reminded me that He Loves me. I like how it defines who you are as much as it defines who I am.

Thanks! ...perfect post for a Monday.

dqvaowvh

9/12/2005 3:22 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Cav - thanks I did.

9/12/2005 4:23 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Ben - me too on the restless part, and thanks for the kind words. You do make me smile. Maybe I should have saved this for Friday so I would end on a high. I'm thinking that the rest of my posts this week will not meet with such compliments.

9/12/2005 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You looked fantastic today. Nice legs.

9/12/2005 5:26 PM  
Blogger Eddo said...

"It makes me lift my eyes up past myself to Him." I love this line.

Beautiful post KT.

9/12/2005 8:44 PM  
Blogger Eddo said...

oooh, an anonymous secret admirer?

9/12/2005 8:45 PM  
Blogger Cav said...

K, I read this again and it hits home. You def have the gift of Godly discernment and wisdom.

I love the fact that he continues to "pursue us".

9/12/2005 11:26 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Eddie - Thank you and I have NO IDEA who anon is.

Cav - Thank you also, I appreaciate the kind words. I love that He continues to pursue us, because I have a tendency to run away some times.

9/13/2005 8:42 AM  
Blogger jes said...

kt, i love all the paragraphs. they helped me get through this LONG post. not that i mind the long post. i just need the paragraphs to help me stay on track. ADD, and all.

you know, i'm continually amazed at your depth, kt. that sounds awful considering we were roommates, twice. and even more awful considering you are one of my closest friends.

i think that identity is something that we all struggle with at some time or another. i know that i certainly have. when i worked with the high school ministry, i know that my girls did. when i went to china, even the women that i spoke with there struggled with it.

know that you weren't, aren't, alone. and yet i feel that i need to apologize because i don't recall this struggle of yours at that time, and it makes my heart saddened that i wasn't there for you at that time.

you, my friend, are absolutely precious to me. know that.

9/13/2005 8:53 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

KT- and YOU were wowing at ME?! Wow back, sister! You know, it's funny, because just this past Sunday I taught my young adult group's bible study, and it was about finding your unique individuality in Christ. This is such an important topic, and when we lose ourselves in the cares of this world, the best and most important thing we can do, like you said, is to lift our eyes up past ourselves to Him.

Katie- you have such an amazing spirit, and seem to have a unique identity all your own. It's so easy to feel like we blend in, but with God, our individuality will inevitably shine through. (Almost went on a tangent there lol)

Thank you for sharing your heart with us. It was absolutely beautiful, and so very true. And I should add: I too, at the point you talked about our savior on the cross, also was brought back to "The Passion". So very powerful Katie, thank you.

9/13/2005 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I was wondering does any one know what album of Third Day’s “blessed assurance” is on… I heard it on the radio lots and in Belfast at summer madness and stuff. I’d really love to buy the album its on but don’t know which one its on.

1/23/2006 1:31 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

hey anon, I just googled it and it seems like there was a compilation album called Next Door Savior with Third Day singing Blessed Assurance. I don't know about this CD but hope that helps

1/23/2006 1:35 PM  
Blogger Shine said...

Hi I was wondering does any one know what album of Third Day’s “blessed assurance” is on… I heard it on the radio lots and in Belfast at summer madness and stuff. I’d really love to buy the album its on but don’t know which one its on.

1/23/2006 1:40 PM  
Blogger Shine said...

thank you so much thats great. i'll go look for it

1/23/2006 1:42 PM  

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