"No one gets to tell you who you are,” she leaned in and whispered. I let out a laugh. All of my life I’ve been told who I should and shouldn’t be. Shy. Too sensitive. Quiet. Forgetful.
There were years I tried to define myself through a platform, and other years when I hid as much of myself as I could. There were years where the voices overpowered the soft and gentle voice of my Creator.
“You should be [this].”
“You need to change [this].”
"God wants you to do [this]."
As believers, I think we often trade truth for a lie. We believe the words that friends, family, coworkers, and even strangers name us. I don’t discredit the power of words, people can easily convince us of our identity by constantly reminding us of who they think we should be. At the root of sin and our idolatry lies the struggle for righteousness and identity. I strongly believe that our words towards one another should be life-giving, and redolent of the One who calls us son and daughter. We tend to become what we’re called. Call a young boy a gentleman, and you can see his posture change.
Growing up, my identity was that of an orphan – unsure, untrusting, overwhelmed, and abandoned. When your identity is based upon what other people think of you, how other people have sinned against you, and isn’t rooted in what God says you are, you constantly feel discouraged and defeated. A citizen is someone who feels freed from making a name for themselves, because they rest in God’s true love for them. A citizen is someone who knows they are forgiven and totally accepted. They are able to take risks, even to fail, because they trust less in themselves and more in Jesus.
I’ve learned that for those who are weary and burdened by religious rules and expectations, Jesus promises rest and deliverance.
I’ve had people tell me over and over again to “walk in authority”. It took me months to realize that to achieve this “walk”, I only needed to pursue the heart of God. To “walk in authority” means to walk in a manner worthy of the calling that I’ve received. It means to walk in boldness and the unwavering trust that God is who He says He is, He does what He says He will do, and I am who He says I am… because He is a good God and He is a faithful God. A citizen remembers who they’ve been named by the One who matters most, and decides that no one else gets to deem them anything that doesn’t coincide.
Eli is a barista/nanny/hand letterer/dabbler in most things. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas, but if you know her, you know that she is likely to be in another state or country each time you hear from her. Her favorite conversation starter is, “What breaks your heart?” She strongly believes that the life of the local church is best expressed through how it loves.