Identity

If you’ve read this blog for very long at all you probably have a good idea of my identity. I’m the rebel child, equal parts stubborn and inquisitive. The scrapper tom-girl  who loves adventures. I like beauty too,  just the weathered kind.  But there’s something on the matter of my identity that I’m struggling with. Last night I tried and failed to summarize it; this morning I came across this which, though it is different from my story, comes close to capturing what I was aiming for. That word, survivor. It’s not too far off. The Eye of the Tiger does up my heart rate. But let me see if I can focus the problem closer. I want to be strong and tough, and a touch sassy. I reach for “a force to be reckoned with”, and I like the idea of being the loner girl who follows through on her threats. But that’s not Biblical, is it?

There lies the problem. I know, I know, you can be stubborn for the right reasons, and you can rebel against wrong. In fact, I do use those traits to that end, but not always. Not even usually.  That is not to say that I am the girl I described above. I’ve realized lately how few people take me seriously, and how many see me as the ‘good girl’, which, if I’m honest, is not who I want to be. But what is and what I wish was is not relevant because we all know that thoughts can be sin, and that persona isn’t even in line with the Bible for guys, let alone girls.

“So”, you say, “easy fix, just change your aim.” But it’s not that simple. See, this is where my stubborn side kicks in. As I said I don’t want  to be the good girl, and I’m wrestling with that. Because as much as I don’t want to be the good girl I do want to follow God. I do want to be able to be used for His purposes. I love God, and I want to please Him. Love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control…a number of the fruit of the Spirit are not in my goal. It hurts. I don’t want to be torn down so God can rebuild something wonderful. I like my mental image of myself. Do you know how hard it is to say “Your will be done…Not your will but thine”? So that’s where I am right now. There’s the honest, vulnerable picture folks. My question is, where are you?

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Categories: Journey Prologues., My Life, rants | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Identity

  1. Nastya Andreyevna

    …..but wait a minute, what does “good girl” even mean? What ARE the fruits of the spirit, really?

    I think sometimes we get our own definitions/popularly accepted definitions mixed up with the true thing.

    I’ve struggled a lot with this too. I automatically associate “good girl” with a calm young woman in a gingham gown. Sitting on a quiet porch in a rocking chair. With a sunflower in her lap. Maybe she’s knitting. She’s perfect, she never crosses any lines, and she is incredibly boring.

    If that’s what goodness is, I don’t want it.

    What do you think goodness really is? Or patience or love or gentleness? Do you think the true definition has room for Joan of Arc and the apostle Peter and Frodo and Eowyn?

    • True, true, but I don’t really care if I’m a good girl (I hope I made that clear); I just want to be a Godly girl. I think some of my ambitions don’t line up with the Bible.

      I think goodness is ultimately God, but humanly it is what flows out of a love for God, and a God centeredness. There is room in the true definition for strong people. The ones you mentioned were all human (ok, so some were hobbits and whatever Eowyn is, but my point is that they made mistakes.), and they were all striving for something outside of themselves. I want to be that, but I don’t want to be a rebel for my own reasons. The reasons need to be right. There is a time to turn the other cheek. I hope that makes sense.

      • For what it’s worth, I think your clarification makes sense. More than that, it was very well said. “I think goodness is ultimately God, but humanly it is what flows out of a love for God, and a God centeredness.” Yes, absolutely. I don’t know if it can be put better.

  2. Where am I at? I guess struggling at a cross roads where hypocrisy and lack of trust meet, where all that is self is found false and wanting.

    But enough about me.

    I agree with the caution Nastya gives, (“good” is so often distorted) but between the article and the song you reference I think I understand the problem you are trying to express.

    If I were to restate it, (correctly, I hope,) the problem you see is that you are trying to be a “self-made” person. Yes, and so are the rest of us, rebellious sinners that we are. You are trying to define yourself, whether it be as a “survivor” or in some other sense as one who rages against the dying of the light, and does not go gentle into that good night. What troubles you is that you realize you should not be trying to fashion your own identity in line with what appeals to yourself. Instead, as Christians we are all called to take on the identity that we have in Christ. That identity is not self-exalting or flesh pleasing.

    That is a good observation, and to that degree I think your self-critique is accurate. But the critique is accurate more because of the heart attitude you have pointed out in yourself than because of the particular attributes you highlight. The attitude of being self-made, and fashioning one’s own identity could also be expressed in dependence upon others (rather than independence) bland acceptance (rather than stubborn inquisitiveness) and being a people pleaser (rather than a rebel). A person seeking to fashion their own identity in opposite fashion from your desires would still be equally wrong.

    In fact, anyone trying to become a self-made person faces the same sin, no matter what attritubtes they exalt in their desired identity. The same sin remains: Not resting in the identity provided in Christ.

    Here I would point out that making your self-fashioning identity to be a “good girl” rather than some other preference is no better, and no less a sin. If becoming a “good girl” becomes your goal, then you are seeking to become someone who doesn’t need the Ragamuffin gospel. (Yes, I am reading the book currently.) You can’t become a “good girl” and if you ever think you’ve reached that self-made identity it is then you have bought a bunch of lies.

    You will always be a bad girl resting in God’s grace, seeking to live to please him by his grace working in you. It is all grace.

    What you should seek is not to be a “good” girl or a “bad” girl, but a girl living like Christ. Jesus, who rested in his Father, trusted his Father, and always sought to please his Father. So yes, you need to give up your goals and identity aims for yourself, and accept from God the fashioning and identity He has for you however much it is not in sync with the persona you always imagined for yourself. So must (or ought) we all to do. It is dying to the flesh, dying to self.

    But you may find that when you look back in years to come there is more of the spunky, adventersome, curious, and stubborn girl in the person God is calling you to be than you at first imagined–it is simply that when surrendered to His grace those things take on a different coloring, a different hue. At first we think it is so much not us, but as we slowly wipe off the grime of life from the mirror of our selves that our hearts start to beat a little faster as we find the face coming into view which at first seemed so much not us begins to look more like us than we ever imagined we could be, or hoped to be.

    As a Christian we should not seek to become the person we think want to be, but neither should we seek to become the person other people think we should be. Instead, we should seek to become the person God is calling us to be–and as much as that may not be the person our flesh wants to be, it so often is not the person other people think we should be, either. And, I would say, so often who that person we should be is not very clear in the details when we start out. The growing starts by resting in God, and seeking Him in His grace. He takes care of the rest. In time. In his good time.

    Most, if not all, of the attributes you listed in your post could be seen in either a positive or negative way. What can be negatively called stubbornness could also be a determination to follow after God. Willful independence from one view might but an unswerving alliegance to God and not man from another view. Nobody should think that being made more spiritually perfect makes them less subject to character criticisms from those around them. After all, Jesus was called a son of Belzebub.

    Also, God has made people to be different and being made more like him does not mean being made more uniform with every other person. We are not all eyes or hands. Your particular personality type is not (in itself) the problem, and the solution is not for you to become carbon copies of other “good girls” (whoever they might be.) The problem is your personality (mine, everyones) not being in subjection to God. So, yes, as you say, that invovles a tearing down, and we don’t want it, and it hurts. But may God give us grace, and may our aim always be Christ, and nothing less, our joy Christ in us, and nothing else, and our identity Christ shining in us and nothing more.

    You have to give up your identity. But, you know what? When God gives it back it isn’t ruined or destroyed–it is fixed and made perfect, more perfect than we could imagine. We need to give our identity up because instead of us plinking away with our hammer and chisel to fashion our own pathetic image-idol of ourselves, we need to hand over the hammer and chisel to God so he can fashion an image from us which is a glorious reflection of Him. He made you the first time as the rebel child, equal parts stubborn and inquisitive, the scrapper tom-girl who loves adventures. When He remakes you it is not to throw out all that you were, but to refine it in the fire so that the scrapper tom-girl comes out with all those things purified as they should be truly expressed.

    That, I hope, is something encouraging as you prepare to jump into the smelting furnace, and brace yourself to submit to the hammer and chisel of the Master Artisian. Might that we all find such encouragment.

    • A self-made person…that is a good way to put it. Your point that any kind of self-made person is sinful is correct. That’s definitely something to think about. Though, it doesn’t let me off the hook at all. 😉

      And yes, you struck my realization, or at least the thing I’ve been trying to ignore- that the point is to be like Jesus and die to self. That is SO much easier said than done, isn’t it? But I’m trying. It’s easier some times and harder others. I fail more one week and less the next; there is no pattern, and sometimes I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere.

      Sometimes I don’t want to be who God wants me to be. I don’t want to have to be weak to showcase His strength. Being helpless scares me. I agree that the attributes I listed can go both ways (I tried to highlight that in the post), what I was trying to say is that I’m taking them the wrong way, which is obviously bad. I’m trying to deal with that.

      I know in my head that I will come out of the fire better than I could have made myself, and I’m desperately trying to turn that into heart knowledge. I don’t know that I’m making much progress though. It’s so much easier to find problems than fix them, but thanks anyways for the encouragement.

      • Being helpless scares me, too, and I know it isn’t good because it shows my lack of trust in the One who holds me.

        This life is a struggle, but in the midst of the struggle it is important to remember that God is the one working all good things in our lives. That is our hope when the battles seem so uncertain. I’m currently reading though Isaiah and thought I’d share a few passages the touch on this idea, and which I found deeply encouraging.

        Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. (Isaiah 26:12)

        This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15)

        I pray that God would cause that truth to bear rich fruit in my life, and yours too.

  3. wowsy, someone writes long comments. 😉 (I’m his sister, so I guess I’m allowed to say such things, lol!)

    I found your post very interesting to read, because it’s this mix of seeing something the same as myself, but different. You say who you are–the scrapper tom-girl who loves adventures–and I hear myself say, “I always wished I was that.” Survivor. Strong, tough, and a bit sassy. Yeah. A force to be reckoned with, yes.

    But I’m totally not. People tell me I’m too nice and I need to stick up for myself more and I’m always trying to make everyone happy, please everyone. And you say you don’t want to be a good girl, and I can’t admit to not wanting to be a “good girl”. . .so how do I square up imagining myself to be that tough-as-nails, street-wise girl, and wanting to making everyone happy?

    Mostly, I just don’t want to hurt. And I imagine if I was tough-as-nails, I wouldn’t hurt, right? So it’s very, very appealing. I get busted up often enough I can’t even understand Hanan’s comment that anyone could be a survivor. (Although I do get Hanan’s point. Jesus didn’t “survive” the cross. First he died [doesn’t seem to count as surviving], and then he rose again in conquering victory–much more than just “surviving.” It’s just that the shell of being a survivor seems like a safe place to be.)

    • True, true, he’ll just have to tolerate my less than long answers since I’m trying to respond to certain other lengthy expositions of his.

      I feel like I can relate to you too. I want to be a force to be reckoned with, and sometimes I feel like I am, but other times I’m just another good girl trying to be. Someone told me that I was too nice to hit them the other day. I tell you, that frustrated me. If you ever find out how to square up the two identities let me know. I will say though that all of the street wise girls I’ve known were the ones that were hurting the most.

  4. Nastya, I don’t really know what a good girl is, either (although Jesus’ comment of “why do you call me Good? There is only One who is Good” comes to mind), but I think it’s funny how we form our own pictures. My image of “good girl” always seems to be more along the Mother Teresa line, the never-ending never-wearying toil for those than need grace, hospitality and love. Super-women who take care of everyone. I don’t think my good girl image is any healthier than yours, lol!

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