I’m back to the beginning again.
It’s funny – sometimes I think I’ve got it all figured out.
I write these posts, I journal, I speak, I talk with friends – and sometimes, I feel like I’ve solved everything. Like I have all the answers, and that maybe, this time, I’ll really have control of my life.
Ironically, however, I think I’ve got it all covered and then I struggle again.
I write about true identity being found in Christ and yet I find myself playing the comparison game, over and over.
I write about hope in pain, and soon after I find myself, once again, stumbling in the darkness, losing faith in any light.
I write about living in grace and the very next day I battle overwhelming guilt and shame.
And here’s the kicker – all this leads to is more guilt.
There’s a whisper in my head, reminiscent of the Serpent in Genesis 3, saying, “Did God really say His grace covered everything?”
“Did God really say that your worth was found in Him alone, and that you cannot improve upon that because it’s already perfect?”
“Did God really say that hope and joy are unconditional?”
“Did God really say He’d lead you through your life, no matter what you’re going through?”
Yes. Yes, He did say those things. And they’re promises.
I found myself restless and worn thin today, stressing over something that didn’t really matter but affected every part of me so immensely – I got so caught up in my accomplishments, my achievements (or lack thereof), my feelings of inadequacy that I couldn’t see straight.
I once thought that self-affirmations were the place in which to find my sufficiency. Instead of tormenting myself with thoughts of, “You’re not enough, and look at all the times you’ve failed,” I’d counter it with, “Look at how fast you completed that course!” and “Look at how many people read that blog post you wrote!” and “Wow, listen to all those compliments.”
And strangely enough…I’d give myself that pat on the back and still feel miserably inadequate.
But I figured out why.
The things I’ve done, my accomplishments – they’re not forever. As soon as I place my identity in something impermanent, I set myself up for disappointment.
The key to adequacy, then, is not affirming myself in the things I’ve done, but in what Christ has done for me. Finding my identity in His perfection, not my effort.
It’s taken me so long to accept this truth, and to be honest, I’m still learning this day after day.
Again and again do I have to look at my failure and say, “This does not define me. The Cross of Christ does.”
It’s hard. I feel it.
But the beauty of this faith we share is that we serve a God who is so, incredibly patient with us.
He wants us to learn and grow.
And He loves us, in the midst of our messes, our misconceptions, our struggles.
And He offers us His hand to go through this complicated life. He gives us His Spirit to guide us, His Word to instruct us, and the body of Christ, the church, to encourage us.
We’ll still have our troubles. And sometimes, we’ll have to go back to the beginning over and over and repeat the things we know to be true:
I am loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
I am a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I am forgiven (Ephesians 4:32).
I bear the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
None of these things are of my own doing, which is what makes them all so radically beautiful. My identity is higher, greater, vaster than anything I could ever manufacture on my own.
Yes, I have to remind myself of this often. For some reason, it’s not easy for my stubborn mind to fully grasp.
But God is patient, and He is loving, and even in my struggles and yours – He is here with us.
And every single, painstaking time we need to go back to the basics, and remind ourselves of Truth, He comes with us, guiding us along. For His promises are everlasting and He is faithful.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”