Finding My Identity

On Tuesday, I asked you to read a post about identity rupture to better understand me and where I come from. Here’s a snippet (but the full post is so much better!):

Today, Take Root defines Identity Rupture as abrupt, extreme changes in the following:

Autobiographical facts about the child’s life, such as name, date of birth, place of birth, names of family members…

Environmental factors in the child’s life; the people, places and things with which the child is familiar…

The expected and acceptable behaviors…

This happened to me when I was four, when my mother took me from my father. I would like to point out, however, that this also happened again when I was twelve and was taken away from my mother. She was taken to prison, and I was introduced to my dad, his (new-to-me) wife, and my brother. Even though my autobiographical details reverted back to the legal truth, they still changed. Obviously my environmental factors changed; I moved from Oklahoma City to the Dallas area, and into a new house with people I didn’t know or trust. And as is natural any time one moves from living with one family to another, the expectations and standards for acceptable behaviors changed.

While my being “found” ended the period of my life of official “abduction,” it was very similar to being abducted again. The same thing basically happened to me twice, in the practical implications and in the way it made me feel. Thus, my identity was this sort of fluid para-reality; I didn’t really know who I was, but I was also very frustrated about other people not truly knowing who I was. I still struggle with this sometimes, when I let the enemy run away with my insecurities.

It doesn’t matter if I go by Angie or Ang or A.J. or Amy or Angela. It doesn’t matter which last name I had in which grade, or whether I had a middle name or what it was. It doesn’t matter whether my birthday was in August or October. It doesn’t matter who I pretended to be when I was told to pretend, or who I pretended to be when I felt like I had to pretend just to keep my heart safe. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is the truth.

Who am I?

I am unique and treasured and purposefully created.

Psalm 139:13-16
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

I am intimately known.

Psalm 139:1-4
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

I am loved.

1 John 3:1
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

I am part of a heavenly and holy family.

Galatians 3:26-27
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

I am intended for future glory, for His glory, for eternity.

Colossians 3:3-4
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

I am made new, so that I might be an ambassador for Him.

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.

What about you? Do you know who you are? What is your story? You see, I firmly believe that all of our lives either go one way or the other. They either further God’s kingdom or the enemy’s. Everyone has hard times; everyone has hurt. But what do you do with it?

I love the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. There’s not space for me to explain it all here, but he had a really dysfunctional family that did awful things to him. And in the end, he repaid them by saving their lives during a severe famine, and even by comforting them when they were afraid of retribution for their sin. Here’s what he said to those who had hurt him so profoundly:

Genesis 50:20
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Now that is the kind of person I want to be. I want that kind of perspective. The enemy worked much evil against him, and Joseph suffered for years and years as a result. Still, he chose to stay faithful and open to God, even in the most hopeless of circumstances. He refused to be bitter. Because of that, years later, Joseph was promoted (out of unjust slavery and imprisonment) to a very powerful political position that he would have never, ever had available to him if his brothers hadn’t hurt him. Many lives were saved through his godly leadership, and his character had become so much like God’s that he was able to naturally respond in love and grace to the very people who had acted so selfishly and evilly against him in the past.

The lesson:  God is in control all the time. The enemy means it for evil, but God means it for good. Joseph chose good, and many were blessed.

In a small way, that is what I hope for my story. That by sharing it, you will see Him. That you will see in my life that although the enemy meant to destroy me, God meant to teach me more about Himself. That God wooed me even as a little girl, teaching me of His mercies in the dark and scary times. That He whispered His love. That you might even hear His whispers as I tell you my story. That you will come to know that through the hurt and the sorrow, He is there. And that now, years later, I am beginning to see the good. I can see little glimpses of the “why” of it all. That my story, just like yours, is a story of glory. Of His glory.

So take the time to find His glory in your story — allow Him to turn your mourning into dancing — and then tell people! You never know who might be saved because you had the courage to be vulnerable and share your brokenness.

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