Do you find it difficult to walk in the freedom of your identity? Are you continuing to struggle in the same area or with similar aspects of life? A huge obstacle to living radically different in the present is the way in which people or things have named us in the past. When we are able to uncover what has formed and shaped us we are able to separate fact from fiction and claim our God-given name.
Some time ago I was praying and as I was talking to Him I was saying things like…I just want to know what to do…I just want to do the right thing…I just want to pursue right passion…
…I just don’t want to disappoint you…and before those last words left my lips, I heard deep within my soul, “Why do you think you’re disappointing me?”
I soon began to notice that when I was praying I’d often say, “I just don’t want to disappoint you.”
One morning a familiar verse struck me in a new way. “…-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39 NLT
Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God…nothing? Even if I make a wrong choice? Even if I don’t do what is right?
God pressed that scripture deep within me and it started to rub up against my worry about disappointing Him. Despite what I know, what I have heard, even what I believe…somewhere deep inside me, I am convinced that I have to do the right thing…I’ve got to follow the rules because if I don’t …if I don’t make the right choice…if I don’t pursue the right passion, I will lose His love.
You see, at one point I was named the rebel. For many years I was known for my rebellious behavior and I was told clearly and repeatedly by loving parents that if I would just follow the rules, all would be well with my family. The way that it could all be fixed was to just do what’s expected. Be the rule follower.
I was taught that rule following gets you more privileges, earns you more love and respect, makes you more valuable, and keeps everyone happy.
That “naming” shaped my relationship with God. I better get it right….everything right. Don’t screw up…don’t choose something unless you are 100% absolutely sure it’s the right thing…or else…
You’ll disappoint Him
And if you disappoint Him, He’ll stop loving you
And if He stops loving you, you’ll be left out
No life with Him
No longer a part of the family
No longer covered by His grace
Wow! I had no idea that was lingering beneath the surface and was an obstacle to receiving God’s love and living in His grace.
Our call to live radically different goes against the rules of the culture, sometimes even against the rules of the church. As we follow God’s plan based on our unique design and desires, feathers will be ruffled, expectations will be unmet, someone is bound to be unhappy. That’s when we need to hold on to God for dear life and claim the name that He has given us.
In her book The Dream of You, Jo Saxton unpacks this idea of identity and naming. (If you want to explore more with her you can find The Dream of You at Amazon or your favorite bookstore). She takes this discovery one step further and encourages us to ask God for a new name…a true name. Perhaps your God-given name is forgiven, chosen, loved, precious, holy, victorious. Whatever it may be, remember that you are who GOD says you are.
If you are finding it difficult to walk in your identity and suspect that something has named you and is creating an obstacle, spend some time with God and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you who or what has named you in the past and to show you how it is forming and shaping your present. Find a trusted friend to process with to help you recognize recurring patterns and to separate fact from fiction. Then, ask God to reveal to you a new name, your true name.
Choose to live from that place. Because when you live and lead from your true identity, it changes everything.