By Jennifer Slattery, Crosswalk.com
We can’t live like a queen while prancing through the pig sty, and make no mistake, you and I are royalty of incredible value. Realizing this, living in this truth, changes everything—our behavior, perceptions and interactions. This reality necessarily leads to freedom, just as surely as failure to grasp this truth results in slavery.
Years ago, our family opened our home to a young woman who hadn’t a clue who she was.
She believed she held no worth outside of her looks and whatever attention she gained from boys. She received what she sought, at least, on a surface level. Her phone constantly lit up with messages from young men who spoke charming words in the moment, only to use her. And though her friends bathed her in compliments, her emptiness remained.
What might you have done, had you been me? Corrected or rebuked her? Assigned harsh consequences designed to scare her into acting appropriately?
That’s often how we respond, to others and ourselves, when we fail to live as God desires. And while I understand, as parents or teachers, sometimes we must apply the stern hand of discipline. But I also know, from experience and Scripture, true change goes much deeper.
I’m convinced Christianity is less about becoming and more about unveiling who we truly are; who we were created to be. It’s like, prior to Jesus, we’ve all suffered from a case of mistaken identity. We’ve allowed all the voices of the world to confuse and define us, leaving us insecure and bruised. But as we draw closer to Christ, He whispers to our hearts, “That, my child, is not who you are, who I created you to be. You’re mine. You’re loved, fully and eternally. A creature of inexpressible value, hand-crafted in My image, to shine as a beautiful reflection of me.”
In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness …” In the original Hebrew, “Let us make mankind as Our shadow …”
When my daughter was young, she loved making her shadow dance and jump. When she skipped, her shadow did as well. It twirled as fast or as slow as she did, remaining, forever connected to her, the form it represented. The greater the light, the stronger and more defined her shadow. Similarly, as the light dimmed, her shadow faded.
In other words, we discover our truest selves not by chasing after success, accolades, or approval. To the contrary. That will only blur our edges and distort our true beauty. We find ourselves in the One who loves us, knows us, and called us to forever shadow Him.
The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, understood this. When speaking to the ancient Ephesians he recognized heir behaviors and weaknesses, absolutely. But he saw their Christ-centered identity first. God their Father had called them out of the pig sty and to Himself. And lest they feel tempted to prance back to the muck they’d once danced in, Paul reminded them, emphatically, “That is not who you are!”
He told them they were God’s holy people (v. 1). They were far from lacking, for they were abundantly blessed. They weren’t rejected or cast aside. To the contrary, they were chosen by the supreme Creator Himself. They were to shake off the memories of every slimy pit they’d once fallen into, for God had declared them holy and blameless, redeemed and forgiven.
That was their true identity. Their challenge, then, was to learn to live in that reality. They needed to learn to live in grace as children of grace.
We do as well, because identity changes everything, and Christ paid much too high a price for you and I to ever go tiptoeing through the pig sties again.
So how do we do this? By allowing God to change the way we think until our thoughts mirror His, because His thoughts always lead us toward His love and truth. He always leads us toward the absolutely best versions of ourselves. May we never accept the cheap substitutes our world tries to force upon us ever again.
If you’re struggling to live anchored in your true identity, you might find my conversation with Grace Fox in my sixth podcast episode, Moving Past the Fear of Insignificance helpful. You can find it HERE.
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Thanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come alive and find the power and courage to live as He intended. That’s when we experience true and lasting freedom. This sixty-day devotional helps women reflect on God’s grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.
As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.