The Beauty of an Accepted, Secure, Significant Heart

I have this thing about crumbs in my bed. I can always, always tell when someone has been eating in bed even when said person has swept the evidence of the crackers or peanuts or chips to the floor, I will feel it. It’s the only time in my life when I’ve felt like the Princess and the Pea. I will feel the crumb. It might be the only crumb, but it’s significant enough to keep me awake until I sweep it away.

Acceptance, Security, and Significance is the three legged stool that makes up our identity. My weakest “leg” is the one labeled significant.

I look at my little ol’ life and I see a stay at home mom who rarely gets regular showers, a crazy homeschooler who receives the stink eye way too often, a wanna be author with dreams of a book in your local bookstore. I have a kitchen sink that is never empty. I am raising dust bunnies. I have a bed that gets made fifty percent of the time.  The kitchen island is used to store clutter.  I look at my life and don’t see significance.

But my view is being transformed as I dive deeper into God’s idea of significance. It’s not about being noticed. It’s not having the kitchen sink empty. It’s not having a bed made with perfect corners or the blankets hanging evenly along the side (mine is quite crooked, thank-you very much). It’s not even having thousands of people read these words or buy my “some-day books”.

Significance is truly a going lower. A going smaller so God can go bigger. It’s about becoming less of me so more fruit that honors God can grow and be harvested for his purpose. It’s about realizing—deep within—that this life isn’t about how I position myself for success, but how I position myself to be used for God’s kingdom. In order to do that I must go lower and lower so he can be lifted higher and higher.

I must let go of the unspoken, yet very loud, expectations as a stay at home mom. A clean house? Perfect children? Harmonious marriage? Sometimes, but not always, and this is why my significance cannot be rooted in my role at stay at home mom.

I must release the pressure of the fishbowl that homeschooling becomes. Mid-year curriculum changes happen. Kids struggle—sometimes for days, months, or years.  Choices get made, paths are chosen that disappoint me, but these don’t affect my significance.

That dream? The one that involves words on a page and my name on the spine? My significance doesn’t change whether that dream simply stays this wonderful, glow-y kind of dream.  And the even more secret dream—of leading worship for a women’s conference, of leading tender hearts into the most precious presence of God? Guess what? My significance doesn’t change whether I’m leading 8 or 800.

My heart. My life. My innermost being is the most significant when placed in the tender hands of my most loving God to be shaped and molded for his purpose and position. Even when I’m feeling as though I’m not seen–as long as I stay a living, willing sacrifice– I know without a shadow of doubt that God looks at me and sees me as significant.

But it’s one thing to know this on a surface level, it’s a completely different to accept this on a heart level where it gets lived out on a daily, moment by moment level.

That’s why these final verses in the “Who I Am in Christ” mean so much and culminate the entire list and give us the clue on how to actually live out our acceptance, security, and significance.

“In whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” Ephesians 3:12 ESV

 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 ESV

It’s been well established that I cannot convince myself of my acceptance, security or significance. I cannot positive self-talk enough to break through the lies my heart struggles with. I’ve tried. The failure feeds the lies.

It’s only when I take my weakness to God that I find the strength I need to embrace the Truth of what he says about me.

Beloved.

Chosen.

Accepted.

Purposed.

Significant.

Special.

Priceless.

Receiving our identity in Christ happens the moment we receive Christ as our Savior, but living out our identity with him takes steps of faith and trusting him to rewrite some of our thought patterns.

It’s this process that makes our lives beautiful and colorful and oh so worth the wrestling. There’s nothing more beautiful than a women— who has never felt loved or chosen— then when her eyes light with the Holy Fire of God’s truth as it sinks into her heart and rewrites what her past has taught and told her. As the profound truth penetrates her heart, the strongholds fall and God rushes in and beauty is wrought from the rubble.

That’s what makes the journey towards living out our identity worth the struggle. It’s like the metamorphosis of a butterfly. Beauty unfurls. Beauty is you.

Embrace your identity in Christ. And if you struggle, that’s okay. The struggle is part of the journey. We know Someone who can help us navigate the journey and give us the faith, strength and power to live out our identity.

I’ve created a small gift for us to help us remember our identity in Christ. I call them our “Real ID” cards. There are nine small cards covering the details of our acceptance, security, and significance, and they are for us to cut apart and place in strategic areas: home, work, vehicle, or to give away. They are available as a free download by clicking through the link in the sidebar (desktop) or at the bottom of this post (mobile). If you are reading this through your email, please link through to my website and you’ll find it there.

Thank-you for journeying with me through this series.

I hope your heart has been changed for the better.

 

The Purpose of Significance

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I’m really good at being busy for the Lord.

And I know I’m not alone.

Many years ago, I was Women’s Ministry President, Children’s Ministry Director, and a Youth Sponsor—all at the same time. It was exhausting and in the midst of the busyness I realized I had forgotten how to sit at Jesus’ feet and just be.

So I finished out my term as Women’s Ministries president and declined reelection. I found a replacement for the Children’s Ministry and informed the youth pastor I could no longer be a sponsor.

I thought this “learning to be” would be easy, but it was not. I had looked to my roles and the spotlight as indicators of my significance, and with nothing to do, my heart panicked.

Identity is so much more than my roles, reputations, accomplishments, past, present, or future. Through faith I’m believing that I’m accepted and secure in Christ. Although there’s still an internal wrestling, especially on days when I’d rather give up and move to the wilds of Alaska, except for the snow thing and the dark days.

But this significance thing? I still don’t have it figured out. Significance and pride are so interwoven in my heart that it takes the grace of God to unwind. I’m writing and living from that tangled place.

The desire for significance is not an ungodly desire, but I make it ungodly when I chase after success in my roles, approval ratings, and reputation. Only God can fulfill my desire for significance and it’s only when I began exploring God’s definition of significance that I discovered three areas that, when combined together, make significance simple to understand.

Part 1 of significance is tied to our purpose and it’s only when we embrace our purpose— as defined by God— that we can grasp part 2 of our significance, which is our position:

Ephesians 2:6, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” NIV

1 Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?” NIV

2 Corinthians 5:17-21, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” NIV

I am God’s temple, but it’s not about me.

After I die to my own sins, God raises me up and seats me with Christ, not so I can lord it over people, but to serve.

God makes me a new creation and pours his grace over my life, not so I can be blessed, but so that I can effectively be his minister of reconciliation to a lost and dying world.

My purpose is tied to my position. I am not in this world for my own pleasure and happiness, although I have a great deal of things that make me happy and bring me pleasure, like sharing song and words and beauty, but ultimately I have been given a position that needs good fruit.

Our position as God’s ministers is to make him known and to reconcile the world to him. But we can’t do this if we don’t know him or understand our identity in him.

This is where I can scare myself into inaction because the gravity and responsibility of this position is weighty. It also explains why I sometimes flat out refuse to take the next steps in growth in my Christian walk.

All those years ago, God was calling me to let go of my positions so that I could sit at his feet and begin to understand the significance that he calls me to, but I was scared to obey. I liked being in charge and having “important” things to do. I wrestled with giving up my positions in the church because I was afraid of losing significance. What I gained out of the perceived loss of significance was the beginning of the journey to truly embracing my identity in Christ.

As I took the time to be in his presence rather than be busy in his church, my definition of significance was replaced with his. Bearing fruit and serving others through the ministry of reconciliation is a gift.

It’s a weighty gift because I know how hard it is to stay grafted to the vine and engaged with culture. I know that if I reject the position God has called me to be as his temple and as his minister, that the purpose of bearing good fruit is pointless.

There will be times when we’re tempted to find our significance in other things, we’ll misrepresent God to the world, and we’ll do and say things that are opposed to his holy righteousness. Our purpose and position can feel impossible to accomplish. But it is possible and we find the key to success in the final area of significance.

When we combine the three aspects of significance we will find that fulfilling our purpose and position is accomplishable.  Till next time.

Significance: what it is and what it’s not

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I’m a pretty boring fruit person—I like the basics, at least that’s what I buy on a regular basis. Ido  like mango, but my grocery doesn’t stock the kind I like.  I like kiwi fruit, but sometimes I forget to eat it. Have you ever felt a mushy kiwi? It’s kinda creepy.

If you looked in my fridge right now, you’d find one grapefruit and five apples. The apples aren’t crispy, which is to bad. I like them to crunch and squirt apple juice all over my chin, and they must have the perfect blend of tart and sweet. So maybe I’m not really a boring fruit person, but a picky fruit person. Some people would think so, but I just say I know what I like.

I’m glad God isn’t a picky fruit person. I don’t think he’d throw me away if I weren’t crispy like I do with my non-crispy apples. In my house, apples are not guaranteed security. In God’s house, I’m accepted, secure and significant.

I’m studying the verses surrounding my identity in Christ, and I’m finding out who God says I am. He says I’m chosen and not just once or twice, but over and over again. He says I’m secure in him and in today’s world, I need that security. You, too?

But significance? That’s a tough one because pride twists it into something ugly and sinful, rather than something beautiful and holy. Our hearts, my heart, yearns for significance, and I’ve looked for it in people, in approval, in my strength, in my independence, in my roles, in how well I do this marriage thing, and how well I mother my kids. The problem with that?

The pressure to perform squeezes me dry and I fail repeatedly. I’m hurt when I’m overlooked and not recognized, but then I feel guilty when I read Bible verses about humility and meekness. So I squelch this desire for significance, but it grows and comes out in ugly, arrogant ways.

There is the self-seeking, arrogant, all-about-me side to significance, which reveals a gaping hole in my heart that cannot be satisfied with anything but God.

My identity—my approval, my security, and my significance— is found in him. He placed this desire for significance in my heart so that I would gain a greater understanding of who I am in God. And God says I am significant.

I am significant. You are significant. Did you know that you and I are God’s workmanship? We are created for purposes prepared in advance for us to fulfill because we are significant players in God’s plan for mankind.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

I’m not created for myself. I am his. He longs for me to walk in his ways, not mine.  I’ve messed things up enough to know that my plans aren’t that great so I’m totally okay with his plans for my life. I’ve found that when I walk in his ways, my desire for “self-seeking significance” is traded for the real truth.

The real truth is that I’m significant because Jesus chooses me. Imagine! God chooses me. He chooses you. God chooses the educated and the uneducated. He chooses the wealthy and the poor. He chooses us because he made us, and he is waiting for us to respond to him. When I stop striving for self-defined significance, and I rest in the significance of Jesus’s choice, I am given two choices.

I can either receive it or reject it. I’ve done both. When I’m stuck in a place of perfection and insecurity, I reject his choosing me. I receive His truth when I give up perfection, insecurity, and disbelief. The belief that I have purpose in God’s plan and that I’m chosen by Jesus to bear fruit is intertwined and cannot be separated.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15:16

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Fruit bearing is impossible without abiding in Christ. We are either branches disconnected from the vine with fruit that rots from the inside out or we think we are the vine itself and the fruit we produce will look like fruit, but it’s a mirage.

Our significance comes when we receive God choosing us and planning for us to fulfill the works he has prepared for us. We don’t bring our resume. We don’t bring our list of accomplishments as a prerequisite for significance. We come with humble, wide hearts, and he receives us.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be good fruit. I don’t want someone to take fruit from my branch and be disappointed by the quality.  I accomplish good fruit bearing when I live my life wholly committed to His absolute, unswerving truth. This is my significance and it is yours. Will you receive it?

What Security Can Do For You

I’m well acquainted with insecurity. It’s been a companion to Perfect for much of my life, and it lies dormant for a time. Then something happens that wakens the sleeping giant and insecurity becomes a driving force in my life. I’ve learned the triggers that bring Perfect and Insecurity into my life. and I’m learning to deal with them in a healthy way. Ignoring them makes them worse because they want their voices to be heard, and if I don’t listen they scream louder for attention.

Not to sound crazy, but treating them in this way gives me an opportunity to speak God’s truth to them, aka myself, when those voices drown out the voice of God in my ear. I’ve let Insecurity win far too many times, but lately the battle is turning in favor of Security.

I’ve not been able to fight this fight on my own, though. It’s been God who has worked and shifted and transformed my life, but before He could truly bring transformation, I needed to allow the depth of my insecurity to be mined and all the pieces laid at Jesus’ feet. It was deep and wide with many twists and turns along the way, but He filtered through the tangle of lies and truth, and He straightened what needed straightening and threw out the lies that destroyed.

I’ve believed the lies that my identity was secure in what I did or didn’t do. But security is not in my success at loving others well, or how well I live out God’s precepts. My identity is secure in knowing that I am precious to God and that I belong to him.

Security also provides ways to live this life well. When security is allowed a place in my heart, I find that my self-control grows. On the other hand, Insecurity leads me to self-indulgence. When I feel insecure, I self-medicate through excess food and a couch potato life or through food restrictions and excess exercise.  Self-medication can happen through materialism, minimalism, and mommy-wars.

Insecurity drives our fear and security drives our self-control.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control,” 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

Insecurity will drive us to excess and extremism because insecurity tells us we’re not enough so we run around trying to fill the void with something, with anything. Security in Christ helps me to turn to him instead of food, exercise, minimalism, materialism, and mall hopping. Security is the key to self-control.

When Insecurity rages within me, I try to find security in my own efforts, but security in Christ means releasing the ‘in’ part of insecurity. It requires a laying aside of our thoughts and hearts being wrapped up in ourselves.

This is hard.

I make the most compromises in my Christian walk when insecurity is in control. Usually, when insecurity is running rampant in my heart it’s because I’m far more concerned about what someone else thinks than what God thinks. I’ll downplay my relationship with Jesus because I’m afraid of what you might think. Or I’ll laugh at a crude joke rather than standing for purity. Or I’ll add my two-sense to speculating why so and so is acting they way they are.

Security in Christ helps me be steadfast in my Christian life, because I remember 1 John 5:18,

“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

When I forget that I’ve been born of God—and if you’re not sure if you are or what that even means, let me know and I’ll share the good news with you—I grow insecure in my identity and easily fall into old sin habits that were left behind when the old me died and the new me was raised to life in Christ.

And the new me? She sets her mind and heart on Christ. It’s when my focus is on Christ and his will for me that I’m fully able to serve and love others without the fear that I’m going to fail or make it all about me.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory,” Colossians 3:1-4 ESV

When Insecurity stops by for a surprise visit, I invite it in for coffee and listen to its concerns. I look at the circumstances that perhaps triggered its visit. Sometimes it’s an unresolved argument or a recent failure.  Sometimes it’s because I don’t like my hair or my shirt. But mostly, insecurity is a response to the uncertainty in life.

God uses my insecurity to point me to him and it’s then that he reminds me of where my security lies: in him, in his love, in his goodness, and in his strength.

We are secure in him.

how to trade your insecurity for lasting security

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Who am I? Who are you? The easy answer can be found on the ID we each carry around in our wallets, but the deeper answer is more difficult to flesh out. I know at my core I struggle with my identity. I look at myself in the mirror and see a woman staring back at me, but what I see are the hurts and beliefs that I wrestle everyday with because my life–this life–is about God and how he wants me to live not about the effects of my youth that created this uneasy sense of wondering ‘who am I?’

For the last few weeks I’ve challenged my own self-perceptions, sense of belonging and confidence within the context of God’s word and I hope you’ve been challenged as well. Today begins a tackling of another subject–one I’d rather avoid if I’m being completely honest, but needing to address: Security.

My security is not found in my ability to perform because I’ve learned that performance and abilities can fail.  My security is not in my reputation even though my reputation is important.  My security is not in the type of family I come from, my heritage, or my pocketbook, which is a relief because I’m a melting pot of nationalities and my pocket book is usually empty.

The temptation to place my security in temporal things is strong because these are things I can see and gauge and prove to myself that I’m worth something. It’s the compare and contrast thing we do with each other: ‘How am I better than so and so and how am I worse than so and so?’ and so my security rises and lowers based on where the comparison needle lands.

But it’s exhausting, you know? When my security is placed in my own ability or in someone else’s ability, I weave and bob on a floating log in an uncertain river. I go under gasping for breath and come up soaked and shivering, but still clinging to the things that I think will provide my security: performance, people, and pocket money.

I’m learning through mistakes and moments of humility that security has nothing to do with me or with you, but God himself.

What he says about me is more important than how I feel about myself. He says that in Christ, I am chosen, adopted, rescued, complete, and given access to him. This doesn’t change based on the day when I have it all together and I’m rocking the day or the day when I have one giant fail after another.

He says I’m secure in him and this doesn’t change if I have a poor performance, disappoint people, or lost my pocket money. He is the ultimate in security. But how do we begin transferring our misplacement of security in ourselves, and other people to the King of kings and Lord of lords?

It’s allowing three key truths to take root in our heart and allowed to grow.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Satan loves nothing more than to throw my sin in my face and remind me of the shame of it. God says that since I am in Christ Jesus then I’m set free from my sin and I am free to live by him and for him. My security is in knowing that I’m free from the law of sin and death and set free in the law of the Spirit of life.

Life is hard. It just is. There’s pain, cancer, miscarriages, stillborns, death of a loved one, divorce, abuse, or addictions. And sometimes the hard is something we have to face every day and sometimes it’s a memory that lives as though it is our present. Somedays it’s hard to look past our pain to see the possibilities of what is.

And what is is this: you love God, respond to his call and he works things together for good. This concept only works when we frame it with our love and response to what God is wanting to do with our junk. My security lies in trusting God that he will turn my pain into beauty.  I have to look at pain or fear or whatever in the eye and trust God with it and as he works in my heart, my insecurity is traded for security.

To understand the depth of God’s love for us can be one of the greatest obstacles to our security in Christ. Our hearts are prone to cynicism. Our minds towards doubt. We want proof and too often life proves that love is expendable. So to wrap our minds around the concept that nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus can feel impossible.

 But what if we tried? What if you and I declared that no matter what happens tomorrow at that doctor’s appointment that we will still believe God loves us? What if you and I declared that no matter who wins the presidential election that we will not be separated from the love of God? What if you and I declared that no matter how much pain we are currently experiencing in our private lives that God’s love is still deep and wide?

What would our acceptance of God’s love look like if we separated our circumstances from God’s love for us? It would look a lot like security.

confidence or confident?

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Acceptance.

It’s what I long for, and it’s what you long for. I also withhold it from others and myself and so do you.

I’ve been wrestling with my acceptance in Christ because there’s a part I play in it as well: I have to accept what God says.

I can read his truth and his words, but if I don’t believe them, I’m still lost. There’s a difference between knowing truth and believing truth and it’s hard to believe the truth about acceptance.

When I refuse to accept the truth that God says I am set free from darkness, I stumble and fall even though light is nearby. When I refuse to accept redemption, I abdicate my inheritance of forgiveness. When I refuse to accept completeness in Christ, I give up confidence.

I once confessed my insecurity to a close friend and she sat open-mouthed and dared me to deny my statement. I couldn’t and she couldn’t believe it.

I’m good at playing the confident woman, but I shake in my boots and hide behind a smile and a sparkle. I don’t see what my friend sees. I see a messy-haired, scared little girl hoping to be accepted, but believing she won’t be and so I pretend. I pretend I’m full of confidence.  I pretend I know what I’m doing. But inside? On the inside I’m afraid you will find out the truth and reject me.

God gives me opportunity after opportunity to strip my confident façade away and fully embrace his acceptance of me because it is only when I rest in his acceptance of me that I am truly confident.

Confident that I’ve been rescued, redeemed, chosen, and given access to the throne room of God. Confidence based in my own ability is shaky and will crumble. It has crumbled. Each time I’m publicly humbled–whether it’s through an editing mistake in a published piece, or my vocals cracking as I lead worship, or singing the wrong lyric at the wrong time–I’m given the opportunity to understand what it’s like to be confident in him.

This past Sunday, as I led worship, I cued the band and the tech team to section three of our opening song. They did their part, but I didn’t. I sang something entirely different. The smiles and laughter in the tech team cued me of my screw up. While the band played their way through my fumbling, I smiled my way through, course corrected, and kept the focus on God.

A few years ago, I would have spent the afternoon berating myself over my ineptness-turning the focus on myself-rather than rejoicing in the ability to learn a lesson in humility and glory.

God doesn’t want to embarrass me, but if I’m prideful in an area, I will be humbled. My confidence should never be placed in my abilities because my abilities are not because of me, but in spite of me. My abilities are gifts from God to be used for him for his people. They have nothing to do with me. They are for his glory.

My confidence is directly related to how well I accept that God accepts me. When I don’t feel accepted, when I feel I’ve disappointed God, either over something little or that thing, like perfect, that keeps cropping up in my life, I reject myself, assuming that God rejects me as well.

I couldn’t be more wrong. He doesn’t reject. He accepts.

Our confidence for living this God-life is directly related to our embracing God’s acceptance of us.

If we embraced this truth, we would confidently leave our old lives behind and embrace the new. We would truly understand amazing grace that’s set our hearts free. We would love without strings. We would confidently walk in the forgiveness God offers rather than in the condemnation we offer ourselves.

Could you imagine the effect you would have in your life if you walked confidently into every situation confident not in your ability to perform, but confident that no matter what others think of you or what you think of yourself that God calls you accepted?

There just might be a revolution.

There would be a revolution in our churches because it wouldn’t be about us, but it would be about following the Holy Spirit wherever he leads.

Our homes and society would revolutionize themselves because our love for each other would flow from the belief that we’re accepted fully and completely by God. We would give our best knowing that God is pleased when we accept and love each other.

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 ESV

“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” Colossians 2:9-10 ESV

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Confidence is directly related to our belief in God’s acceptance of us. We might struggle with accepting ourselves with all our flaws and mistakes, but God doesn’t. He offers us rescue, redemption, forgiveness, completeness, and access to the throne of God because he accepts us. This is who you are in Christ: accepted beloved one.

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I write to encourage you that you can experience a vibrant, transformative relationship with God even if your past or your shame tells you otherwise. God invites you upward and onward, will you join me? You'll receive weekly devotionals straight to your inbox. By subscribing you'll receive my 7-Day Devotional, Kicking Perfect, as a thank-you gift from me!

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