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Identity Lost

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Picture it. I, like many of you, have somewhere to be five minutes ago. Being the intentional planner that I am, I laid out everyone’s clothes the night before to ensure efficiency in the morning. When the kids arose, I had a complete, whole food breakfast waiting. I even had my quiet time before they woke up. The birds chirping in harmony with the sunrise was the perfect compliment to my study.

But then it happened. My first child came down the stairs complaining of a stomachache. I began to tend to them as the next one stumbled down the stairs complaining that the shirt I laid out is too small. I put the aching child aside to help the other find a shirt that fits.

As I made the dreaded trek upstairs, I suddenly hear glass shattering from the plate that was holding the hot breakfast I so purposely prepared. By the time I eventually head out the door, I realize I’m missing more than just my peace from the early morning.

“My purse, where is my purse?”

Luckily, I find it quickly enough. But as I scrounge through receipts, out dated lipsticks, and half-chewed packets of gum, I realize something’s missing.

“Where’s my ID?” I hurriedly sputter out, trying not to raise my voice. I know I can’t drive without it. In fact, there’s not much on my to-do list that I can do without it.

Sadly, many of us have lost more than our personal identification. Our very souls seem to be wandering around searching for who we are while we unknowingly go about our daily activities. And as a modern woman, I struggle with letting what I do tell me who I am. I convince myself that I’m somehow supposed to master the art of plate spinning — serving up the role of wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, and fulfilled co-worker. Said simply, I confuse my “who” with my “do.”

If I am what I do, then I am nothing more than my Facebook profile description:

I am a happily married, Jesus lovin’, passionately living, community building, ministry serving, Freelance writing, cloth diapering, marathon running, super food eating, breastfeeding, DREAMER of a momma!”

Godly, socially conscious, talented, selfless, and healthy wife and mother rounds out a pretty whole person, don’t your think? I sound like superwoman herself! Just to be clear, I conveniently left off Type A, easily irritated, particular, hot tempered, impulsive, opinionated, strong willed, rebellious, and stubborn. Still want to trade capes? I didn’t think so.

In my own personal search for identity, I turned over every rock possible to “find myself.” And that search left me with more than grime and dirt under my fingernails.

In high school, I looked for myself in the approval of others and based a lot of my identity on my appearance. I aimed to have a petite waist size and the perfect tan to coincide with my ever-so-short cheerleading skirt. Socioeconomic restraints and my love for Little Debbie snack cakes kept this goal from consistently being achieved. However, this is something I still have to be conscious of today. Wearing heels and a cute top doesn’t define who I am.

Not knowing who I was also caused me to go along with peer pressure most of the time, which meant being in relationships that weren’t healthy. I dated a boy that proved to be quite the delinquent and although I never approved of his ways, I didn’t know myself well enough to leave. This relationship became very destructive and lead to a lot of hurtful scarring in my personal life. Deep down, I knew something wasn’t right but I wasn’t sure what. God protected me, though, and I was unable to find my identity in that relationship.

In college, I was even more lost than before. My previous experiences had done a number on my self-esteem and I found myself in and out of even more dangerous situations. I dabbled in drugs and gave myself to any hope of acceptance. I clearly remember crying out for so much more than these temporary fixes could offer me. Fortunately, God would not allow me to find my find my identity in euphoric experiences or broken promises.

Entering marriage, I still had a lot of hurts but had experienced many years of healing and getting to know my Savior. I was starting to learn that my identity was in Christ. As I got to know Him better, I began to know myself better. Each moment spent with Him revealed the better parts of me that were hidden under the dysfunction of my earlier years.

However, I began to look for my identity in my marriage. I tried to fulfill the role of what I thought a wife was supposed to be. Somehow, I lost myself along the way and wasted many years not seeking out the things that I enjoyed. My husband didn’t ask me to do this. I simply just didn’t know who I was. I spent a lot of time discounting my likes and looked to his interests to find my own. I was looking for my identity in him.

It was at this time that we began working in ministry. I once again fell into the trap of looking for my identity in what I did. I worked tirelessly to help others understand who they were in Christ. The irony was that I still didn’t know who I was. God allowed me to help a lot of people despite that, but I was still searching.

As I’ve journeyed into my 30’s, hide-and-seek has been replaced with discovery of who God says I am in Him. This learning curve I’m traveling on doesn’t seem to have a final destination and after trying to steady myself onto every good and bad thing out there, I think I’m finally starting to get a grasp on my identity. It is in Christ alone.

Galatians 2:20 states, “For I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives inside of me.” What does this practically look like? I’m not really sure, but I think it means that I need to continually devour the pages of Scripture for more revelation of who my Creator says I am. I, after all, am not unlike anyone else. God created all of us for a purpose and that purpose is to bring glory to Him. I strive to look for ways to bring honor to Him in my everyday endeavors, constantly allowing the Holy Spirit to assess my motives and rebuke me when necessary.

Sometimes my old self tries to resurrect itself. And when my old life is knocking at the door, crying to get back in, I remind myself that unless these invading thoughts resemble Christ’s, then they are not my own. I have to put on the mind of Christ “and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:5). As I practice this discipline, I can more easily solve the mystery of these identity thieves and lock them out for good. I will no longer allow my identity to be stolen.

And when I serve in ministry, attend small group, go for a long run, or prepare a healthy meal for my loved ones, I have to ask myself the hard questions: Am I finding my identity in these things? On good days, I’m reassured that I’m not. And when I fall, I realize that is God’s grace keeping me from once again looking for my identity in empty temporal things.

“I found it,” I hear my voice echo out in the now empty room. I adjust the diaper bag as it slides off of my shoulder and grab the papers I need off of the side table. As I attempt to open the door with my free hand, I mentally check off my to-do list for the day. I slide in the car, juggling all of my items in tow.

I breathe a sigh of relief and mutter a prayer. I ask God to help me remember that I am complete in Him and that this day’s decisions, good and bad, don’t determine who I am. Whether they are participating in a Bible study, writing an article, reacting in anger, speaking before I think, or running a marathon, my identity is not based on what I do.

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Karin Hume is a Mississippi girl healing from the wounds of life while hoping to inspire others to do the same. She lives with her visionary husband Brian, aspiring journalist, teenage son Tayler, and rockstar toddler Chase. When she isn't chauffeuring or potty training, she enjoys having coffee dates with friends, creating recipes out of whole foods, running, cycling, and Yoga. Writing is not only her passion but an outlet God has used to transform her life. She blogs at allpointswhole.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Identity Lost

by Karin Hume time to read: 6 min
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