After a bit of a refreshing, much-needed break, I’m back again. I’ve taken the past few weeks to breathe, to refresh, to learn and grow and visit my friends, and reflect on life.
A while ago, I wrote a post called When Your Soul is Longing to Be Enough, and to this day, it’s one of my favorites. I want to continue on with that theme, with a new and different take on it – one that’s even more freeing.
For years, I’ve inwardly wrestled with feeling adequate, good enough, complete.
When people would tell me, “Oh, you’re so good at _____,” I’d brush it off, mentally tell myself they didn’t know what they were saying, ignore the compliment and continue to believe that I wasn’t good enough. Not as a person, or as a performer.
As I got older, and understood my faith a little more, I would hear it said, “You are complete in Christ! You are new and pure in Him, and that is where your identity lies.”
And I grasped onto that belief, holding it firmly, afraid it’d slip away. Because some nights, curled up in bed with my journal in my lap and pen in my hand, crying out to God, I’d begin to disbelieve again.
There was this dichotomy in my mind, this separation between who I was in Christ, and how I performed – how I really and truly saw myself.
At church on Sunday and while doing my devotions in the mornings, I’d be inspired to live out my life in this newness, this beautiful identity.
But then I’d try and live my life, and I’d see my failures, my weaknesses, my procrastination, my ugly perfectionism, my mistakes, my inadequacies, my doubts.
And to think God valued me, in my sin? That I understood. I understood that my sin – my shame, ugliness, all of that – I understood that Christ paid for that. Perhaps it was because I never fully grasped the gravity of sin; I’m not entirely sure. As for sin, that was covered in my mind –
yet I drew the line when it came to believing that God accepted me in my frailty.
I believed that my identity – my grades, and work, and friends, and hobbies, and all my failures in all those areas – I believed they were all on me. If I failed in them, there was something wrong with me.
But one thing I didn’t think about for the longest time was this verse, about God’s strength being more than enough for my inadequacies.
2 Corinthians 12:9
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
I always, for years, clung to this verse. I quoted it and wrote it down and memorized it and told other people about how God’s grace was sufficient for them.
But I never internalized it. I never listened to the verse for me. I never understood that my weakness – my poor grades, my bad habits, my recurrent failings – they could be used in my life to show of something greater: grace.
“And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
Somehow, so many of us fall into believing that Christ died for our sin, but not our mistakes. Yet the beauty of His sacrifice for us is that He didn’t just die to scrub us clean, but to restore our souls.
Mistakes, failures, inadequacies, accidents – these all arise from the nature of this world, a fallen one. They arise because sin has permeated the fabric of the universe, rotting it from the inside out, poisoning it with evil and immorality and iniquity.
But Jesus changed things.
Newness in Christ, fullness and value, that all was given to us by what He did on the cross for us.
He erased our debt, and gifted His holy and perfect identity to us. He loves us, and likes us, and delights in us.
To be honest, that’s hard for me to fully grasp. My Creator…delights in me? He calls me beautiful? He sees my failures, and yet gives me His strength? He forgives my sin, though there is much of it? He gives me hope and peace, at my lowest points?
To truly think like this, to see our identity as one we find in Christ alone, and not in our achievements at all, whatsoever – it’s baffling at times. Attempting to apply this truth to our lives often is perplexing – how does the goodness of Christ pertain to the fact that I was late for work, and said all the wrong things, and failed that exam I studied so hard for?
Identity is this: that our shortcomings do not define us. The perfection of Jesus does.
Who I am is more than what I do.
Who I become is more than just my hard work I put into being a nice person.
Who I am is wrapped up in the essence of Christ Himself – the very One who died to restore the world, to reconcile it to His Father, as it was before the fall. To reach our hearts and make them new, to call us His own, to love and adopt us and make us sinners pure.
We all still fail. We do. We make messes and twist things into ugly jumbles of mistakes and shortcomings.
But who we are is more than that.
We have the righteousness and goodness of Christ in us, in every single way.
2 Corinthians 5:21
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
We are the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
We are new creations in Christ.
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
We have new life because of Christ, and Christ alone.
Maybe you’ll still struggle from time to time, as I do every now and again, with making this fullness and newness tangible. But in order for growth to happen, there must be some sort of struggle. Friend, let us struggle to fight for truth in identity, and meaning, and purpose.
Now that you’ve heard my story, I want to hear yours. What have you struggled with, and how have you overcome it? And what has God been doing in your life lately?