Recently, I have felt lead to speak into the space of our identity in Christ. Perhaps this is because I have struggled so much with my identity throughout the years. I’m not sure. I think this passion began to develop when my husband and I were looking for a scripture verse for our thirtieth birthday tattoos. We wanted something that spoke to both of us and to where we felt Christ had brought us in our lives. We landed on 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain”. When I read that verse five years ago, I knew it was my life verse. It spoke so strongly to me. I had no idea at that time, though, that it would end up being the verse that I would base my entire ministry around.
I loved this verse instantaneously, but the longer I have sat with it and meditated on it, I think what speaks to me so much about it is actually the verse before it. Paul prefaces 15:10 by saying, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God”. So, he doesn’t say, “I am who I am, and who I am is awesome and worthy”. He says, “I’m the biggest screw up of all, and I am so unworthy, but it is by the grace of God that I am who I am now in Christ”. And then, he concludes the statement by saying, “and I will honor that grace by working for Christ and proclaiming His fame. His grace toward me will not be in vain”.
I think the message of this verse is so prevalent in our culture today. We have this tendency to let the American Dream, our parents’ expectations, our friends judgement, and a multitude of other things, cloud out God’s expectations and will for us. Worse than that, we don’t realize that’s what’s happening. We fool ourselves into thinking that the dreams, expectations, and pressures of others are God’s expectations because typically they are not bad things. In fact, they are really good things, so God probably wants them for us too. However, just because things are good, does not mean that they are God’s best for us. They could be, but I think we should at least stop and consider if they are.
Let me give you an example of this. A few years into our marriage, my husband and I bought a house. At which time, I immediately began to seek to fill the house with children through foster care…because that’s what you do. You get married, get a house, and have kids. I never stopped to seek God’s will for my life when it came to children. I just assumed that’s what He would want for me. After all, isn’t that what He wants for everyone? Through a series of events, God interceded to show me that, at least, at that point in our life, that was not His will for us. And you know what, after I really stopped to consider it, I realized that having kids was not really a desire of my heart. I was just going through the motions of what I thought I should do. Now, before you write me off completely, I am not saying that you should not have kids or that there is anything wrong with having kids. For most people, that is the right decision. However we can’t assume that it is God’s will for everyone, no matter what people expect of us.
Part of the beauty of God’s creation is that there is diversity. My identity in Christ does not include being a mother, and that is okay. It’s also okay if your identity does include motherhood. We can allow ourselves the freedom to be exactly who God created us to be in Christ and by His grace. The most wonderful part is that, when we do that for ourselves, we also give other people the freedom to be exactly who God created them to be. We don’t have to meet anyone’s expectations for our lives, except for God’s. We don’t have to fit any mold that we might feel pressured by society to succumb to. We have the freedom in Christ to be exactly who He created us to be, nothing more and nothing less.
It’s really a freeing realization. At times, it will mean letting others down. The decisions that go against the norm will not always be popular, and people will be disappointed, but as long as we are seeking God’s approval and following His will, we will never have to be disappointed in our decisions. Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest that, “If we do a thing from a sense of duty, we are putting up a standard in competition with Jesus Christ”. Nothing should compete with Jesus Christ, not even good things that aren’t His best for us. Erwin McManus in Unleashed adds, “We need to find the courage and freedom to be ourselves. We need to let ourselves become the unique individuals that God created us to be. We need to stop trying to be what everyone else wants us to be and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks.” This need to please others above pleasing our God is an epidemic among Christians in our country, but you don’t have to fall victim to it. Decide now that you will seek God and His will above all else, even if it means disappointing those closest to you or not meeting others’ expectations.
However, we know that we will fail at this, because we are human. We will let the expectations of others change who we are. We will misrepresent Christ and the core of our identity. And when we do, we can trust in God’s grace to pick us up, dust us off, and remind us Whose we truly are. Afterall, if He could do it for Paul, He can do it for us.
Amber has a heart for sharing God’s love and encouraging others to find their full identity in Christ, giving them the courage to be exactly who God created them to be. She does this through her daily life working with young people (youth and college age) and through her blog http://bythegraceofgodiam.com/. She is married to her best friend. In addition to helping her husband with the Student Ministry at her church and blogging, she enjoys teaching a sign language class and running a tutoring program at their church. She is a huge Sci-fi nerd, board game junkie, and grandma hobby-ist (crochet, knitting, cross-stitching) who frequents coffee shops way more than is healthy and believes life is better when socks are colorful and fun. She loves reading and binging Netflix. She’s also a huge Potterhead. She lives in Albuquerque with her husband and her two Beagles. You can follow her by subscribing to her blog or following her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ByTheGraceOfGodIAm/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/bythegraceofgodiam.