Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Identity & Value <-- (I sound like a girl!)

Please do not feel pressured to read this. I'm so bad at being brief that I haven't written for a long time. It's easier for me to write a lengthy journal entry than a 1-paragraph blog. But, since a couple people have asked me what's been going on with me, I thought I'd give them a quick glimpse into some of my thoughts. This came from a journal entry I wrote last night...

Identity is an odd thing. It's a word that's used a lot in conjunction with the word "finding." "She finds her identity in her looks"..."He finds his identity in his mechanical skills." I guess what we mean by identity is value. We're actually saying, "She seeks value in looking good"..."He seeks to be valuable by being a skillful mechanic." And of course, ever since Jr. High Sunday School it's been drilled into my head that as a Christian I ought to "find my identity in Christ," that is, to seek meaning and value in relationship to him. Easier said than done.

Even when I think I'm following after the Lord's leading I quickly begin to seek personal worth in the "peripherals" of life. I feel like I'm a more worthwhile person when I'm being self-disciplined in my Scripture reading and prayer time, or when I'm spending lots of time connecting with students and pouring my heart into them. It's even easy for me to seek value ("find my identity in") my relationships with people: being a good friend, being someone people enjoy hanging out with, etc.

None of these things are bad, I don't think. But tonight I heard the Spirit's gentle voice calling my heart, beckoning me to draw near to God. To walk with him, even as I work with youth and hang out with friends.

It's kind of weird, you know. There is no one like God; I have no other relationship that is the same. I don't know why he sees value in me...but HE DOES!! :-) If I were not valuable to him, I would have no value. My value comes from the fact that HE (the Maker and Sustainer of Life) values me.

So, if my value lies in him, then to feel valuable, content and fulfilled it makes sense that I would want to remain near him, to consciously interact with him frequently throughout the day. But for some reason, I'm a peripheral junkie. I've allowed myself to become addicted to the [albeit lesser] "high" of being a dedicated youth leader, an enjoyable friend, or an attractive woman. (I'm not saying that I am all these things, only that I often work toward these things as if they would make me more valuable.)

So this life--this life that's been granted me, this job where I have been placed, these people God has put into my life--this life is from God. And since I'm a finite human, he understands (and expects?? maybe even is pleased by??) my involvement in the activities and relationships which make up life. But I must remember that it is not those things that make me valuable. That's good, because those things are not eternal. I could lose my job working with youth and still have value to God. I could betray my friends and he would still love me. I could always be ranked the least attractive person in the room and I would still be just as precious to him. I could get in a car accident tomorrow and spend the rest of my life laying in a bed, disfigured, drooling all over myself, unable to recognize my friends and family, and I would still be valuable to God. Because the only true, inherent worth that I can claim is that I am loved by God.

So, Kristi, it's okay to throw yourself into ministry and relationships, as long as you don't get confused and begin to believe that your value is contingent upon your performance. (Isn't that great that I'm not less valuable on the nights when the sermon stinks, or I'm not a very supportive friend, or when I gain a lb. instead of losing it!) The trick then, must be to walk through life with God, letting him affirm my value in my relationship with him. And as my heart grows more in tune with his, I may find myself being more like him in the way that I minister to students and love my friends.

Lord, help me not to be drawn into the lies of the world that tell me that what matters about me is how I look or what I can do. Give me a balanced perspective of myself, so that I can be comfortable being the person you made me, serving in the place you placed me. Help my heart to be more aligned with yours. I want to walk with you each day--not so that spiritual disciplines make me feel good, but so that I am relating to you and allowing you to teach me, mold me, grow me and guide me each day of this life you have given.