*Note: This weekend, I went, with other youth leaders and over 47 kids on a retreat. The kids were shown what it meant to belong to God. To know who they are, in their own, individual identity. I was assigned a cabin of amazing High School girls. Throughout the weekend, we would gather together after a session taught by either Jake, J.J. or Tim, and discuss what we heard, how they felt, and what it meant for each of them in her life. Below is a letter I wrote them, posted it where they could see (and will give it to each girl in a printed form). I post it here, for them as well. And to even remind myself.
Coming off a weekend where we learned about identity, it has me thinking more on the subject.
In our small groups, talking through the discussion questions, my girls bravely shared thoughts about what it means to live in identity – both in the world (others’ labeling of our identity) and in our faith (who we are in Christ, through God’s eyes).
My sweet girls, all varying in age and experience…first of all, I want to thank you for your courage to speak when you did, and generosity to listen to others. I was overjoyed in spirit and heart to pray with you, hear your opinions, be asked questions from your own heart, and to merely spend time with you this weekend. I want to share with you a bit more, as we step into a week of “normal day-to-day”, for I don’t want to lose the truth we learned through Jake, J.J. and Tim this weekend – and through each other.
You are treasures. Did you know that? Deuteronomy tells us that when you declare that the LORD (Abba – “Daddy”) is your God, He then declares you as His precious treasure. Deuteronomy was speaking to the people of Israel, God’s chosen country and people. Yet through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we (who would be known as Gentiles, since we are not Jewish by birth) were shown all the love and protection and promises that God made previously. The grace of the cross was extended to us!! Knowing that amazing fact, we can take ownership of the promise and name in Deuteronomy, as God’s very named treasure. Read Deut. 26:17-18 as proof of this.
Treasure is used numerous times throughout God’s word. First, to name us and His, then to describe the beautiful knowledge of God Himself, and of Christ, and further as an outpouring of worship from us – naming our Father as our treasure. It’s a beautiful relationship.
Take that identity dear ones. Own it. Let it warm you and connect you to your Maker.
I’ll leave you with my own personal understanding of identity. I did not share much of my point of view, except when asked (which I loved!). Yet I know how sharing journeys can give us such a better understanding for our own.
I did share that I’m still finding home in my own God-declared identity. As the very daughter of a King (read Psalm 45:10-11), you and even I are everything wonderful, and nothing undesirable in the eyes of He who matters most. Yet the Enemy lurks, waiting to cause me to forget this truth. Satan’s greatest desire for those who follow Christ is to make them ineffective for His use, by heaping lies on us about our identity (for one thing) and our capabilities for God’s use of us. So when you or I are tempted to listen to the lies, or to live in the insecurity of what others think of us over what God thinks of us (remember our talks!), I pray with all my heart that we run – fast – into the arms of truth instead.
If I hear the lies instead…if I stayed in insecurity…then the times when I’m met with a sarcastic comment, or the times where I notice how foolish I am by the silly things I say or the weird things I do (which, by the way, are quirks of my personality that were never hated by He who made me, just by me who can’t cope with being “different”) I can be swallowed up in insecurity instead of swimming freely in Love. This generous love is given to me every day, regardless of my mistakes or the opinions of others.
I’ll say it again, as I said it by the swings on our last day – it is more beautiful to live in the knowledge that our identity is in Christ, than to constantly try to please people around us. These people are imperfect, just like us. They make mistakes just as we do. Wouldn’t it feel so much better to know that the very same “Daddy” who IS perfect, who MADE us and KNEW everything about us even before we were born (since He created the World, remember?)…this very same loving King already sees us as worth everything. We don’t have to perform for him. We don’t have to be afraid to do what is right in His presence – when we do we find freedom like we never expected. We don’t have to wonder or worry that if we say the wrong thing at the wrong time, or do the wrong thing, or seem needy, or let fear cause us to lash out, or anything else you can think of to God, that He’ll turn His back on us. It cannot happen! It never will. Reread and remember Romans 8:38-39. Nothing can separate us from His love. Take security in that. Take ownership of that identity – it is yours to wear boldly.
Thank you so very much, for sharing your hearts with me this weekend. Do not forget what I said about being available. I will be so bold as to speak for others now. Jake, Kristine, Kristin, Natalie, J.J., Tim, Micah, Kerri, Missy, Ara – all of your youth leaders are here for you. ANYTHING you need to talk about, ask about, confide about…we are each here for that. And what I personally said about anytime, any hour, any day – remains true. Know that. I loved praying with you, hearing your prayers, hearing the requests. I continue to lift those up.
Be secure, feel safe, have full confidence – for you are protected, adopted, an ambassador, loved…and so much more by God. You are HIS.