As a young woman I struggled for many years not knowing my identity. I lived with addictions, self-destructive behavior, and low-self esteem. After a radical conversion where I was spared from a life-endangering situation, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
I found a great church home where I felt loved and accepted. I became a passionate believer; excited to share my faith with everyone I met. I enrolled in Bible School, went into full-time ministry, did missions and outreach work.
I came into the faith still not sure of my identity, so I looked to other church people to try to figure out who I was supposed to be. I found the more I served and accomplished things for God the more important I felt. My identity became wrapped up in what I did for God: accomplishments, titles, and positions.
The truth is my identity wasn’t in being but it was in doing, which created insecurity and competitiveness in my life. <<Click to Tweet
I kept doing more and more to gain approval from others, and my life became out of balance. I found myself in burnout and deeply depressed because I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. I wanted to be this perfect Christian woman/minister, but I had to come to the reality that first, this person doesn’t exist; and second, trying to be something other than the person God made me was making me miserable.
I found and began to meditate on the scripture 1 John 4:17, which says that as Jesus is so are we in this world. I started to look to Jesus for my identity. As Jesus walked the earth He was authentic and free and He never was ruled by people’s opinion of Him. The religious elite hated Him for that because they were trapped behind their masks and facades. However, real people were drawn to Him and followed Him, and their lives were changed forever.
I finally took some time to breathe. And the more I got to know my Lord Jesus, the more I realized that He saw me with eyes of grace. In this season, I really began to get a deeper revelation of His abundant supply of grace and the gift of righteousness in Christ.
I came to the place where I knew I would never be happy wearing a facade and I would never fulfill my God-given destiny trying to be like anyone else or trying to gain others’ approval.
I spent a season just receiving Jesus’ unconditional love. It was a season of physical rest, a season of delving into resources on supernatural rest, soaking in God’s presence, and being led by the Spirit into the “God thing” and not the “good thing.” In time, I began to transform into someone who was relaxed in her own skin and who was secure in her identity in Christ.
As children of God, when we cultivate our relationship with our Lord in prayer and meditation on His Word, we will care less and less what others think about us; and we will stop trying to win people’s approval. We will come to a place where we really enjoy who we are, and find that nothing compares to who God has called us to be and what He has called us to do.
I truly believe that as we become authentic people at the core of our being without striving and stress, we will enter God’s supernatural rest. In His rest we find peace that transcends understanding and the joy that is our strength. Misery may love company, but joy is contagious.
The more we settle into who God has made us to be, the more we will become joyful people of purpose who desire to see others living authentic and free as well.
Malika Cox is from Oklahoma City. She writes a daily blog Flourish at Flourish.tv. She is the author of "Glow from the Inside Out" Bible study and leads a community gardens social enterprise project in OKC, The Harvest Gardens. She is currently at Regent University working on her Masters Degree in Practical Theology and also working on her next book "Back to The Garden: Secrets from Eden."
photo credit: ApertureVenture