2 Corinthians 5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun”. (NLT)
One of my deepest personal struggles is my identity. If you know me personally, and know my heart, you would also know that I’m open about my real life and real struggle. At an early age, starting in junior high, I began to experience emotional struggle unlike anything I’d ever known. I was what you could call a “late bloomer”. Around the age of 13, my closest friends began experiencing physical maturity changes, that come with the normal hormonal growth and adolescent development. Instead of physically maturing like the rest of my peers, I did not develop on the same time table.
As my peers were developing around me, I felt like the same chubby, high-pitched voice, underdeveloped outcast. For several years I was a target for mockery and teasing until I finally hit my physical growth stride at the age of 18. When I turned 18 and entered my senior year of high school, my physical body finally began to change. I however, emotionally remained the same tormented, 13 year old, little boy from years of emotional scarring. The most surprising aspect about all of this, is how these experiences have affected my adult life. Now, at the age of 32, I occasionally see myself as a chubby, overlooked, inadequate 7th grader. I am staggered at the battle that I sometimes still face. At times, I’m reminded of words of hurt and insecurity that got written on my heart during my adolescence.
I bring this to light because these experiences are coming full circle, and I am now starting to see myself the way the Lord sees me. I know I’m not the only person who battles insecurity, poor self esteem, or identity issues. None of us are unique in the fact that we all have a personal area of struggle. Because we are emotional creatures with emotional attachments, we all have the ability to carry the pain and baggage from many years ago. If at a young age we buy into the lies of the enemy, and start believing that we are “overlooked” or “undesirable”, we end up living as if it were reality. When we don’t know that we are loved, we doubt the very nature of who we are or our very purpose.
The more I read the Bible, I notice how emphatic it is about our “Identity in Christ”. There are numerous passages of scripture that speak about God’s love, and how He truly feels about us. (1 John 3:1-“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are”. Psalm 103:13- “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him”). The love God has for me, and way God feels about me doesn’t always make sense to my natural mind. I’m finally learning to trust and believe what HE says about me, even if I don’t necessarily feel it.
A turning point for me in my struggle of identity and insecurity has been the birth of my son. I am finally realizing so much about the Father’s heart and his unconditional love. Just the other day as we had just at down at a nice restaurant, my son soiled his pants; filling the inside of his clothing up to his neck, down both legs, into his shoes and running down the side of the high chair. As I carried him into the bathroom to clean him, he began to cry and fuss, which made the situation that much more difficult. Inside the bathroom stall cleaning my son from head to toe, the Lord began to speak to my heart. In that moment, I started to understand the Love of God in a way that I’d not yet known.
Even though my little boy was covered from head to toe in a soiled mess; unhappy and fussing, my heart was still so full of love for him. I realized there is simply nothing that my little boy can do to lessen my love for him, or even change the way I feel about him. My love for my son is never conditioned on his behavior, mood or attitude. God spoke to my heart saying, “Ryan, you get poopy and fussy just like this, however, the feeling you have in your heart for your son is the same way I feel about you”! Right there in the bathroom stall, I began to cry; receiving such a simple yet profound revelation about God’s unconditional love. It gave me a freedom I’d not yet known.
I say all of this to encourage you. If you are like me, and you struggle with feeling adequate and desirable, or you don’t feel like God loves you, I want you to know that He does. The only reason I can even talk about this is because I am starting to know it for myself! I’m starting to understand that before anything else, I am His son. Each day for me is still a war; a war for my thoughts and emotions; a war for my attitude; a war for my time, energy and focus. Because I am human, my flesh is strong, and I still don’t have it all together. Praise God that He does have it all together, and the He walks with us through difficult seasons!
I believe that the only way we can live lives of true
Verses: Romans 8:38, Philippians 1:6
PRAYER: Father, please reveal your heart and passion for me. I need to know that you love me! I cant go on without knowing that you love me. Whatever you have to do in my life to heal me from my past, please do it! I surrender and submit all my life’s desires to you. I just want to know you! I want to know your love! I want to live in freedom! Please do whatever it takes to break through the hard layers of my life. Set me free, and show me who I am really am! I love you Lord with all my heart and I believe what you say about me, even if I don’t emotionally feel it. You are God, and I trust you! Thank you father for loving me without condition!