Monday, November 5, 2012

identity. crisis.

the sermon on sunday at church talked about despair that comes about when we worship anything other than God. and there i was, wearing my brightly colored sweater, sinking into a dark despair. i had felt it creep in these last few weeks after i became physically unable to keep up with our busy schedule. i have been sprinting, sprinting, sprinting, ever since penelope was born. i know that because i have always wanted to go back to "before penelope"when it wasn't busy (except i'd want penelope there, even in these fantasies of pre-penelope days).

that might not make sense to you.

but for me it makes perfect sense. somehow, 18 months ago, i stopped saying no and started saying yes to everything. i would think, it's good to sacrifice my own needs for the needs of others. that's in the bible after all.  and i'm helping people. who will do all of this if i don't?

and that's where it got gross. a nasty little bud growing in my heart saying that God needs me.
the God who came to serve and NOT TO BE SERVED, needs me.
the God who is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, since he himself gives life and breath and everything... needs me right? to do his work! there's a lot to be done, God!

and so there i sat in church on sunday listening to the same sermon they preach every sunday, to flee from idols. and i wanted to cry. under my bright sweater, i had a whole jacket full of little idols i worshipped. the god of self sufficiency. the god of being needed. the god of busyness, to the point where i don't know who i am if i'm not doing something for others and for God.

who am i if i am not needed like that?

identity. crisis.

and so for a month now i've been learning how to rest. we've been learning, me and nato. we don't know how to rest. it sounds so silly to say that out loud. but i'm looking at nato and he's looking at me and we're thinking, how'd we get here and what in the world do we do with us? 
it's very awkward to cry in a restaurant and say that across a table to your best friend.
i'm having a hard time knowing who i am right now. 

as i've asked myself about my value, i have been weary with despair. weary even in my resting because i am now stuck looking at myself asking God where my value is. i have heard lies and listened to them. i believed them whole heartedly and have let them wash over me every night as i try to go to sleep.
and truly, i am in the dark. alone. it's just me and God and i have nothing to bring him but a bag of trash.

God will you love me even though this is all i have to offer you?
i am asking, are you good?

this is what it is to be human and in need of a savior. to be at the end of oneself, at the bottom with no place to look but up.
and seeing what i have to offer God-- this trash-- presents to me an immense amount of hope.

praise God that it is not on my own merit that he saved me. praise God that he sees me through the lens of the blood of Jesus Christ. my sister, audrey, said it best. praise God that my identity is not in how good of a mother i am. 

yes, i thought. or wife. or friend. or daughter. or sister. or employee. or artist. or whatever.

i am perfect when He sees me. and the truth is, that i have nothing to bring to God.
BUT He has everything to bring to me.
life. and freedom. burdens lifted.
and it feels like relief, but it looks like light shooting into the darkness where i've lived for so long.

the opposite of despair is actually death. death to working to make myself right before God. death to being needed by God to do anything for Him. death to living for others and death to idols that pretend to offer freedom but enslave me.

believe with me that God does not need you. believe that you need God. you need him in the worst way. believe today that you are nothing apart from Him! everything that you have built to give yourself a name...everything that you have done to make people believe a certain way about you. your reputation is nothing when holiness shines on it.

it's very freeing to be nothing without God.

when we see the greatness of our sin, we see the greatness of our need for the cross. and although it is tempting for us to wallow in shame, God made it so that there is no condemnation in christ. the cross bears it for us. he died for you and me in the heaps of trash we live in.

the gospel is real.
and it offers real rest.

i feel like i can breath again.


58 comments:

  1. im smiling really big at you.
    here in my extremely loud (from all the anti flood air blowers) kitchen.
    this was a good post.
    you definitely belong to God.
    trashy or not ;)

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    1. shauna. as i read this, i yelled EXTREMELY LOUD in that part of the sentence. hahaha.
      anyways, promise you won't forget about me in hawaii. you better have guest quarters for strangers. that you met on the inter web.

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  2. I love your blog and your honesty, you make me laugh and you inspire me... Thanks for sharing! My husband and I are in that place of rest, for me it is a struggle to rest and wait I am of the background that you Do, where he is more relaxed, but I am learning to allow the Spirit of God to move in me where He will show himself to me and I will wait but still serving Him. A friend of mine sent this to me and it resonated with me... "many receive Christ in theory but deny Him in practice" Also religion makes you self conscious and grace makes you God conscious so grace is the end of you and the beginning of God. Where you look is where you go. Conviction changes people not knowledge. The Holy spirit convicts not peoples judgment.

    I just felt like sharing that it speaks volumes to me, maybe you can use some of it too, I know I need to remember His Grace, His Love!":)

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    1. love this. i always come to the comments to get some more jesus inspiration, and you did not dissappoint! 'grace is the end of you and the beginning of God' - yes!

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  3. I hear you on this. This morning I was going over the notes from your session at the Influence Conference & you made the statement "We are in active pursuit of what our heart worships." That has resonated with me so strongly. Mostly in the area of your post today, being busy. serving God. because God needs me. there is so much to do (for Him). making it an idol. thanks once again for being transparent. allowing truth to be spoken.

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    1. boy was i preaching the gospel to myself that day! lol.

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  4. I never comment on here but love reading. i came from emilys blog and both quickly became faves after i started. this is exactly what i have been going through recently so thanks so much for writing. it is hard to carry on sometimes and was ESPECIALLY hard when i faced that im nOT good no matter what "good" i do. thanks for being vulnerable and honest always! and funny. can't forget about being funny!

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    1. dude, stop keeping your words to yourself. :) you are an encouragement.

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  5. you are amazing! thank you...i needed that!!

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  6. i feel like i can breathe again too. thank you. we are too much alike. it's so refreshing to read truth in the blogsphere. by far, it is few and far between.

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  7. not sure if my obscenely long comment just went through or what.
    the main point i mean to make is,
    i love this and you very much.
    praise god for helping you breathe again.
    and thanks, i needed this xo

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    1. dang it! what was your long comment?!

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  8. I never thought of that: how being busy {even when you're doing things for your church, in the name of service} can in and of itself become an idol. Love this post ...

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    1. ya, it's weird how we manipulate good things into gross things. humans!

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  9. is crying in restaurants awkward??? oh crap. isn't it hilarious how there are moments where we think 'yeah i got this'..and God's all 'ummm. no you don't . this journey's a marathon yo. the learning don't quit.' God sometimes speaks hipster and it's weird.

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    1. why do i always think i'm the sh*t?? ahahahaha. that should have been my title.

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  10. Oh Jami, you have it so right. Amazing how once again you've put into words what so many of us feel but don't always know how to express. We are dead without him, and alive only through him and by his Spirit. How can we take any credit for that? Who am I? I am His, first and foremost. His treasured possession. What grace.

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    1. grace is my friend lately. it's so good.

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    2. amen. such a dear dear friend.

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  11. i completely struggle with this too.
    written about it a few times on my blog.
    why do i feel like i need to be everything to everyone?
    doesn't God asks me to step out of my comfort zone?
    doesn't that mean being busy like crazy and 'serving' others?
    at least that's what my measly brain tells me often.
    what am i if i'm not doing everything that's put in front of me?
    especially 'churchy' stuff!
    oh man.
    i needed this.
    thank you.
    xo

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  12. I love reading your blog every morning! everything you say is so relevant in my life..you are like my personal life coach. Seriously, even your post about firmoo.com, I clicked on your blog 15 seconds after I submitted my order for free glasses, and there was your post free glasses...very weird, but very cool!

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    1. boom! we're meant to be inter web friends.

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  13. these Truths are absolutely FREEING.
    xo

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  14. Ah, this reminds me of a verse I JUST came across last night. I can't remember where it's found, but it basically says God doesn't want our sacrifices or burnt offerings. He wants our broken, despairing hearts. All we must do is humble ourselves, as you have done. All the busywork and hoops to jump through are completely manmade. SO very freeing! Thank you so much for sharing yourself so honestly and unabashedly!! :)

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  15. I just found your blog (via The Handmade Home), and it is so incredibly beautiful! I love how real you are, and your love for God and passion for doing his work comes through with every word you write. Thank you!

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    1. you're so sweet. thanks for your encouraging words. and handmade home is glorious huh?

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  16. LOVE this - thank you for your transparency! So thankful for our God!!

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  17. thank you Jami. this is so good!

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  18. This is so beautifully and truthfully written. As a pregnant momma of four under four already (two foster children) I've come to grips with exactly what you're discussing. Nothing without Him.:)

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    1. it just takes so much for me to realize that sometimes! why am i so stubborn?! :)

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  19. duuude...thank you so much for sharing this.

    God has been revealing this EXACT thing to me lately. i've been a christian for 25 years and i'm just now understanding these truths.

    i could have written this post myself it so accurately conveys where i'm at right now. thank you for openly and honestly sharing your faith journey with all of us.

    for me, your posts are always a must read. i see jesus, not jami when i read them :)

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    1. boom. your last line makes me smile. take me out of the picture b/c i'm a little nutty. ha.

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  20. Amen and amen. Love you friend.

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  21. Amen and amen. Love you friend.

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  22. duuude. thank you so much for sharing this today. this is exactly what God has been revealing to me lately.

    i've been a believer for 25 years and have not understood the truth that HE DOESN'T NEED ME. i need him and there's NOTHING i bring to the table.

    you captured it perfectly when you said, "it feels like relief, but it looks like light shooting into the darkness where i've lived for so long"

    i'm so thankful that even though i'm a dumb sheep, i have a good shepherd who loves me.

    thank you for sharing your faith journey with all of us. i'm a regular reader although i don't comment because my iphone won't let me comment on blogger blogs :(

    your posts are always a must read for me :)

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    1. well thanks for taking the time to comment. your words are so encouraging. i love the picture of the good shepherd.

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  23. This is awesome. Coincidentally I was ugly crying in a restaurant last night. The kind were you have to blow your nose every couple seconds just so you can keep breathing. I also choked, literally came really close to getting the heimlich maneuver (and I don't know how to spell that so that's my best guess because I'm being too lazy to google) all because I had a similar problem. I was thinking that God needed me to pretend I have it all together since I'm a pastors wife. But reality is I'm not a stepford pastors wife or mom or anything else. So yeah I'm right there with you sister.
    Love you friend

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    1. ohhhh you make me laugh. you're my favorite.

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  24. We are currently in bible school as a family, and learning some of these tough lessons. wowza. there's something to be said for really seeing the scum that we are in light of God's holiness, and then allowing HIM to fill fill fill and fill us again with Him.
    loved your honest words, sweet lady. i found your space here the other day, and read for an entire afternoon. so much vulnerability and wisdom flowing out of your words, and i was so blessed.
    xo

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    1. we need him constantly to fill us. so so so true.

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  25. Wow, your honesty is admirable. The Lord is faithful to the end. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it...thank you for sharing.

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  26. every time. seriously, every.time. you write about things, it's exactly what i need to hear. i've been dealing w/ a ton of anxiety & fear & despair & dread lately, and have felt that filling my time with helping others and church are going to make it all better. He continually shows me all i need is Him, but i forget (or doubt), like literally seconds later. thanks for making me see again that no amount of food banks, churches, bible studies, books, volunteering, spiritual advisors, diet changes, etc are going to make me look 'good' in His eyes. i already look good to him, he doesn't need me, but i desperately need Him and His Grace.

    xoxo

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  27. Thank you, Jami. I just told someone today I had stepped away from serving in the community because I was caught up in Jesus + serving, when I should only be caught up in Jesus. Serving him is important, but my motives are...trashy? :) Seeking God, praying with my ladies, and waiting for his opportunities (instead of filling every need I see) is where I'm at. Waiting on him is a good place.

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  28. I think God brings you to places when we need it most...and tonight He brought me here. Two years ago, my husband was medevacced home from Afghanistan. It has forever changed my life (as well as his and my children). I can totally relate to wishing for life to be less busy. My life has never been busier. I keep wishing for before Afghanistan when life was simple. I had a handle on things. Anyways...this speaks volumes to me right now. It is not what I can do...it is me letting go of this craziness that I am holding on to and letting God have this. This is a work in progress...and I am sure I will be reminded of this time and time again.

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  29. This is SUCH a beautiful post. I can relate. What is the point of being so BUSY if you can't ENJOY the blessings that God is sharing with you? I've had to ask myself that a LOT lately. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. totally. it;s kind of ...stupid! but i'm like that sometimes. (most of the time!)

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  30. amen & amen.
    i needed this.
    right this very second.
    whoa.

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  31. Your dark and messy posts are the ones that speak to me the most...thanks for sharing. It is nice to know I am not the only one crying in restaurants.

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  32. I love reading your blog. This post is on point. Thank you, thank you. :)

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  33. I love reading your blog. This post was on point. Thank you, thank you. :)

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  34. LIKE! LIKE! LIKE! WHERE'S THE "LIKE" BUTTON?

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  35. LIKE! LIKE! LIKE! WHERE'S THE "LIKE" BUTTON?

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  36. I can SO identify with this struggle. Thank you Jami!
    "under my bright sweater, i had a whole jacket full of little idols i worshipped."
    And it is a daily tearing down of these high places. Again and again coming back to Jesus saying, "It's all you!!"
    The freedom in dying to me & all my stuff is beautiful. That is where the chains fall off.

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