The Truth of My Identity

9:58 AMHeather

The other day over lunch, my friend Lauren and I flitted around various topics, and landed in a conversation about the television show Who Do You Think You Are?  I was relaying to her one particular episode where Brooke Shields uncovered a fascinating and extensive royal lineage on her dad's side.  All of her life, she knew little about this side of her family.  She had no connection there.  She had no idea. And it bothered her.

As her episode unwound, she discovered her true identity.  It humbled and overwhelmed her.  She could not believe it. She was actually a descendant of multiple historical figures--kings and queens from several countries, whose names and stories are familiar.  She had no idea that she had a royal lineage of epic proportions.

I think that is part of why I like that show so much.  It gives you a chance to see celebrities as real people.  Just like us.  People who have hurts and questions and unresolved family concerns.  People who want to know where they came from and to whom they belong.

Don't we all wrestle with that to some degree?  Who we are really? To whom do we belong?  Where are we accepted and brought in and loved?  

As I'm reading the book When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch, I'm trying to digest every little nugget of wisdom. And it's a lot.  So I can only read a few paragraphs at a a time. Then I have to stop and chew on the insights.  Like the day I stopped at the phrase "leaky love tank."  Welch talks about how so many of us walk around like leaky love tanks.  We just never feel full.  
Woundedness and disappointment puncture our sense of being loved and accepted.  We go around expecting people to fix it, to repair the punctures and then fill the tanks within us.

Except for one problem.

People can never actually fulfill our expectations.  And as we go around, hungry and begging to be filled by others, we enlarge the people in our lives.  We make them big.  Because they are who we expect to fill us.  All the while, this tendency to enlarge the role of people in our lives is shrinking God.  It's boxing him in and misplacing his position in our lives by elevating the opinions of others.

We are like the celebrity looking for answers about who we are and where we came from and where we can form our identities and feel that we belong and are fulfilled.  

And all the while, this process is making idols of others and shrinking God into a tiny little space in the back of our lives.  He's a filler.  Like the back up pitcher, warming up but never actually being brought into the game.

This is what I thought of this morning as I read Luke 8:19-21.

Now Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near to him because of the crowd. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you."  He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."

I read this over several times and saw myself like the questioning celebrity whose story unfolds during the hour long show.  All the while that I am walking around full of questions and wanting to know where I belong, the answers are actually easy to discover.

Because this passage tells me all I need to know about who I am. These verses should humble and overwhelm me, like someone who sees their family tree for the first time and suddenly every little sense of being abandoned or unimportant or aimless or lonely comes into focus.  The leaky love tank is filled to overflowing.  
And not just because they see for the first time to whom they are related and from where they become.

But because that family actually welcomes them in and throws out the welcome mat and says sit at the table and live here and be loved.  Where maybe they've spent holidays and long hours all alone, with no invitation, they are now embraced and welcomed and a member of the family. Like an orphan child suddenly brought into the loving and important family from whence they came. Removed from the streets and a life with little hope.  It's all changed.  Because they now belong. They aren't alone anymore. They have a father and siblings and they can settle in to their true home.

When did I cease to be amazed that this is exactly what Jesus did for me? When did I wander away, aimlessly looking for purpose and belonging, like someone with amnesia who has no idea they are actually part of a prestigious family?  When did I trade this incredible truth for the counterfeit and dysfunctional substitute family of people who always fall short?  When did I make how others approve or fill me more important than the fact that I have been brought into the family of God?

That Jesus is the Son of God.  And he came to rescue me, to claim me.  That he would dare to count me as his mother or brothers--as one of his own.  That he would wipe the dirt from my face and the filth of who I've been and say, "Welcome home."  

All of this makes me think of the families I've worked with over the years in adoption.  The ones who cry and beg and plead for their children and are willing to jump through any hoops necessary to bring them home.  To claim them from an orphanage.  To do whatever it takes to travel halfway around the world and hold that child in their arms and let them know they have a forever family. To look into those eyes full of pain and sadness and abandonment and say, "I am your mom!  This is your dad.  We are taking you home."

What if that child kept wandering away?  Kept crying all day long about wanting to belong and to have a family?  Kept walking through everyday like the orphan they used to be, dressed in the worn and tattered clothes they used to have, refusing to put on the clean and beautiful clothes their forever family has for them?  What if that child stood in the yard, outside the house, bemoaning and grumbling about their hunger and thirst and their status, refusing to come sit at the table and simply be embraced and loved and having their needs met?


Yet, that's who I am.  I am the one who cries and moans and grumbles about belonging and walking around like a leaky love tank. 

Ignoring the incredible fact that I've already been welcomed.  The cost has already been paid and the details already arranged and every "t" has been crossed and every "i" has been dotted--at a very great price--to give me a place in God's family.

Who do I think I am?

Well, I am actually a child of the King.  I am actually a daughter with a Heavenly Father who is my Abba.  I have been welcomed into the family of God and my identity and worth must be secured there alone.  And I must regain the proper perspective of who I really am. That I am nothing and lost on my own.  But I have been brought in from the cold.  And the fact that Jesus calls me his very own should humble me to complete surrender.

May it be.  May I just be awed at the fact that I am clothed in his righteousness and a place has been set for me at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.  

I am his.  

Lord, help me to be rightly humbled by that fact. Overwhelmed by my true lineage. Ever aware of the place that I belong.

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