As I dig at the stale brownie remnants stuck in the corner of the dish, an unsettling ghost rises like deja vu. Back in my childhood home, I had a stomach of anxiety. Fear followed me like a dark and knowing shadow. In the unlit night, in those traitorous years, I would try to enjoy the small bits of sweetness that strung sparsely across time.
My aproned mother with well-weathered hands stirring the rich shade of cocoa. Wooden spoon guiding the thick batter from side-to-side, smearing thick chocolate up the sides of the glass bowl. Scraping the sides with a silicone spatula, batter pouring slowing into a dish like the one before me now. Bake at 350 and savor the sweetened tongue of a sickening teenage sweet tooth. He stared at my mouth with every overindulgent bite of the warm brownie that ended up souring in my stomach.
"If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me." - Matthew 10:38,39
John 3:30 says that He must increase, so I must decrease.
We are all born into the world searching for our identity. As children, we look to our parents to tell us who we are, as adolescents we look to our peers, and as adults, we have either settled into ourselves comfortably, or are still restlessly searching.
Being born under the law of sin, we begin our life identifying with Adam. Being fallen, we are subject to a law that claims us as a slave, with God being our master. Slavery exists outside of relationship. It is isolating, and leaves us in a posture of striving and working without rest. Our souls are very much in need of acceptance, and our walk is wearying because we will never find it.
It's different when we meet Jesus. He presents us with another identity - our true and original form hidden WITH and IN Christ himself. The place where he calls us to him, for the very sake of relationship, for the revealing of our identity.
My name has two definitions, both of which seem like an overreach to me - "secure" and "motherly." I spent a lot of time restlessly seeking where my heart should settle, what skin I should claim, and felt very lost most of my life. And although I AM a mother, feeling motherly is entirely different. I struggle with feeling gentle and nurturing, pleasant for that matter.
I kept being led to Hosea 2:14-23 which says "I will make the valley of trouble into a gateway of hope...you will call me Ishi (husband) and no longer my Baal (master)...on that day I will make a covenant and enable the people to rest SECURELY...I will take you to be my wife."
Intimacy with Christ transfers me from a slave to a wife. From isolation to relationship. From lost to found. Relationship with Christ leads me to security because I not only find him, but myself tucked under His arm for safe keeping. The one who created and breathed his breath into me, was unveiling my true self right before me. I was a new creation.
After steeping in this for a few days, I closed my eyes and I saw such a powerful image. I saw myself anointing Jesus' feet, wiping my tears with my hair. I thought of the woman who did the same for Jesus and how her identity was so wrapped up in what the Pharisees thought of her. Yet, she craved intimacy with Christ over her reputation, and sat with the Lord. The Pharisees said "IF Jesus were a true prophet, he would know who he was touching." And that was just it, he DID know who she was, where her heart was when NO ONE else did. All the Pharisees knew was her misidentification, her stigma, her actions, her sin. Jesus, he knew her heart. She chose in that moment NOT to go by who she was told she was, or what she thought of herself, but how God identified her, and she was publicly set free by God's gracious acceptance. Her destiny could be fulfilled because she allowed Jesus' love to radically redefine her.
We all have this same opportunity, the same invitation. If you want to find yourself, stop looking in all of the broken and wounded corners of the world. Look to him, let yourself decrease, and I promise that you will find yourself in him.
Meditate: What labels have you subscribed to? What does God say about those definitions? Journal and keep before you what HE thinks of you, and do not settle for anything less. When feelings of inferiority and insecurity begin to rise, do not entertain them. Rebuke every high and lofty argument that comes against the knowledge of God. Refuse to meditate on your shortcomings, but rather His strengths.
Express gratitude: for having the ability to come to him, for the uncovering of lies, and for the acceptance, love and protection of your identity hidden in Him.