Tag Archives: encouragement

Identity Crisis

It wasn’t the “who am I” identity crisis occupying my life for the last month. I’m not sitting around contemplating where I fit in this world. No, I was truly having trouble actually proving who I was.

With my license about to expire, my goal was to renew it with a REAL ID. For those of you not familiar, this is a federally compliant version of your old driver’s license needed after Sept 30, 2020 to get on an airplane or to visit certain governmental buildings. There are strict federal laws governing each state: Anyone requesting a REAL ID needs to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt who they really are.

My problem was I let my passport expire. I read up on the items needed instead. One of them was a birth certificate. I searched my house for weeks trying to find a document I wasn’t even certain I had. Finally, I gave up and obtained a new one from the county where I was born.

As women, we also have to prove our name change for every driver’s license. So I packed up my marriage license, my birth certificate, social security card and proof of my address before heading out to the DMV. Yet, I was still rejected because I brought my marriage license not a certified copy of my marriage certificate. Never mind this was the very document I used years ago to change my driver’s license, my passport, my social security card, all my bank accounts – you get the idea. The DMV’s logic seemed circular to me, but I did all that in a pre-911 world when I guess the government was more lax about my identity.

I was upset leaving the DMV for not even thinking about obtaining a state issued copy of my marriage certificate. I didn’t think the bar would be so high to prove I am me. Despite this huge frustration, I also was thankful God knows who I am, he has welcomed me into his family and no matter how many names I have, he has only one for me: daughter.

Yes, I was in the midst of an identity crisis of biblical proportions, but also felt God giving me a lesson about who he is and who I was called to be – his! Scripture clearly conveys God’s heart for the poor, the oppressed, the orphaned and yes, the rejected. He treasures those of us who have been rejected and made a way to adopt us into the family of God. He never wants us thinking we are left out any longer. Daughters, heirs of God, don’t whine and beg; they pray and believe in God’s love, power and affection.

My identity is firmly established in the finished work of Christ on the cross. His overwhelming victory gives me a place at his table of grace. 1 Peter 2:9 remind us: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)

Approaching the clerk at the DMV, I was filled with anxiousness and fear of rejection. But when I approach the throne of God’s grace, I am assured of God’s welcome and loving embrace. I will always be his forever, no matter what. That thought leaves me speechless, but in a totally different way than I was at the DMV. My wordless response there was of anger and disappointment that I had failed to prove who I was. Accepting my identity in Christ leaves me speechless in humble, yet awe-inspiring gratitude.

As an heir of Christ, I have nothing to prove – not even who I am – and all of eternity to live out that identity.

Let Go of Failure! Move forward! Live boldly!

“What do you mean?” My voice quivered that morning and I’m sure my eyes had that deer in the headlights look. The customer service agent was patient as she explained once again. “You booked your flight for 9PM instead of 9AM.” Again, I just stared at her. Mistakes like this don’t happen to me. I’m careful, I’m cautious and I double check everything. Then I remembered – that night I spent hours searching for a low airfare. When this one popped up on my computer screen, its low price entranced me and I booked it. In my haste, I didn’t check the actual departure time.

A line of impatient customers formed in back of me while I held back tears. Fortunately, the customer service agent offered me a solution. She would check my luggage and put me on the wait list for the next flight. A glimmer of hope, which was immediately dashed when she said, “This is a popular destination. Most of today’s flights are overbooked. You still might not get out until 9PM. Good luck.”

Walking towards my gate, a torrent of tears flooded my face. I felt utterly defeated, stupid and shamed. I failed. Disgrace poked holes in my confidence. My tears grew stronger. How did I let this happen? How would I explain my failure to my friends who were expecting me at noon and not midnight?

Entering the waiting area, a torrent of wetness flowed down my face. I heard God whisper, “Let it go! Give it to me.” My heart answered, “I can’t, Lord. I’m trying to, but I can’t release my failure.” For a few minutes, I wrestled with God. I was so deeply engrossed in telling God how I couldn’t surrender this fiasco to him, I almost missed the gate agent calling my name over the intercom. Moments later, with a boarding pass in hand, I was still berating myself for this misstep. Yet the tears had subsided and I understood more fully why God was telling me to liberate my inadequacies.

This side of heaven, we will never have total victory, but we will have some. Each and every day, God is transforming you, changing you, remaking you in his image. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

My bigger mistake was not handing my failure over to the God who loved me enough to say “let it go.” In that airport, instead of crying, I should have handed my broken scars back to my heavenly Father. Let go of my insecurity and taken hold of my true identity as a child of God. Let go of my shame – of the feeling no one would love me just the way I am – and taken hold of the grace God was offering me.

When victory, even a small one like this, becomes yours, celebrate them! Don’t miss them as I almost did that day beating myself up for my failure. Seize the victories. Rejoice! Move forward and off of those self-deprecating thoughts. Don’t let failure overcome your heart – celebrate the times when victory is yours!

Celebrate the times when life hands you victory out of defeat.

Celebrate when you didn’t answer a curt word with one of your own.

Celebrate when you forgot the milk at the grocery store and didn’t call yourself a failure.

Celebrate when you didn’t yell at your kids or your husband for leaving their stuff cluttering the living room.

Celebrate the time taken just for you to gain perspective on the day rather than enter it feeling defeated, dragged down and disgusted.

Live boldly knowing God honors your progress and offers grace for the times you fall short.

Stop feeling you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not lucky enough, or just not enough, period. Let go of the feelings that sabotage your confidence, move forward into the arms of God and live courageously knowing God has taken hold of you. Then boldly celebrate all the small victories in your life.

The Opera Singer

When I was growing up, my dream was to be an opera star. I had musical talent and could hit all the right notes, so my dream wasn’t that far-fetched.

These days, though, I use my creative abilities in writing. My goal is to increase the joy, peace and happiness in the world, which is probably a bigger dream than becoming an opera star!

All the lessons learned while developing my voice have helped me throughout my life. It isn’t easy putting your best out there and having your voice coach criticize it. While the goal was always excellence and becoming a little better each week, the criticism still hurt. I wish I could say the switch to writing has changed all that, but it hasn’t. It is defeating to polish a piece and then have my critique group or an editor cut it to shreds.

No matter what your dream, here are some of the things I’ve learned while pursuing mine.

Criticism is a given. To get better, you have to accept risking failure. Gather a tribe of people who support your dream and listen to them. As both a singer and a writer, I’ve had to manage my self-talk, otherwise I would have abandoned all my dreams along the way. When someone outside of my inner circle offers criticism, I have to ask, “Is it valid?” If it is, I fix it! If it isn’t, I forget it. Don’t let someone else’s opinion of yourself keep you from fulfilling your dream.

Dreaming means risking failure. There were times in my singing when the notes weren’t always on key, or I mispronounced a word while singing in a foreign language or when I just didn’t have the right breath control. But to succeed means you must look failure right in the eye and tell it, “You will not have my dream!” Don’t let the fear of failure stop you in your tracks. God gave you this dream and if you let the fear of it hold you back, you’ll miss the fabulous adventure God has created just for you.

Some dreams might not come true. The hardest part of working towards a dream is knowing it might not come true. Sometimes our lives change so radically our dream evaporates or our dreams vanish because God has a much better one in mind. I’m not saying the death of our dreams doesn’t hurt. It does! However, if you hold onto a dream when God is directing you elsewhere, you’ll miss the shining new opportunity God has in store for you.

Always remember, God has something better coming for you.

Any age is just right for a dream. It’s easy to say I’m too young or I’m too old to live my dream. But those are lies.

Esther was probably just a teenager when she became a queen. Yet, she saved her people from destruction. Joshua was approximately 70 years old when he became the leader of the Israelites and led them into the Promised Land.

No matter what your age, you are never too old or too young to pursue whatever dream God sets in your heart. Who knows – maybe this your such a time as this (Esther 4:14) moment?

If you have a God-given dream in your heart, keep going. Passionately pursue it. The journey will have times when the going isn’t easy and sometimes your dream may have to change before you reach the end of your trek.

But I promise, in the end, it is always worth it.