This past Sunday, I was asked if I would take 7-10 minutes and share what God has been doing in my life at Church. I have to admit I was nervous. I don’t get many opportunities to address people in this fashion – especially a personal fashion. When I found out that I would be sharing, I took a lot of time to consider how I was going to approach this service. Here is what I basically shared with the Church with a few extra thoughts along the way.
Have you ever taken a picture that, after you took it, you showed off to all of your friends? We are always so eager to share the pictures that come out beautiful with others. We rarely show off the pictures that have our thumb in the way or are blurry. Those are the pictures we would rather delete from our cameras. We have that luxury now in the digital era to remove a picture from our memory disk and save room for that next National Geographic photo.
I think we do the same thing in our lives. We have some great snapshots of our life that we love to share with other people. They make us look good after all. They are pictures of beauty. Meanwhile, we have these snapshots of our life that we would rarely show to anyone else. They embarrass us. They are pictures that make us look as those we are a failure. The only problem though is that we are unable to remove these snapshots from our mental disk. They are forever etched into our craniums and often rear their ugly head when we are less than prepared to deal with them. Since deleting these snapshots are a no go, we attempt to store them away in a private album that collects dust in the back of our minds – at least that is what we hope. I have come to realize though the mix of good snapshots, along with the bad snapshots might not be such a bad thing after all. At least, that is what I am learning.
I have a lot of great snapshots I could share with you:
I was adopted when I was a baby. I lived through a heart surgery that I was not supposed to live through. Confessing Jesus as Lord when I was 9-years-old. I joined a marching band and played the drums. I had my first kiss, which was awkward at first. I didn’t know how the nose and the lips worked together. Being apart of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Going to Bible College. Meeting great friends. Finding a great home church.
These are great snapshots of my life. Though only a few, I would never have a problem showing you these snapshots. They are beautiful. I have other snapshots though that I would struggle to show you:
Finding out I was a rape baby when I was 12. Hating God. Wondering why all of my friends were getting married while I was still single. Dealing with sins that included but are not limited to: lying, anger, and lust. Then there were the times of feeling abandoned, times like I wanted to give up. I would never show you those snapshots of my life because they are ugly times in my life. They are messy. As I said though, both the good and the bad snapshots of our life are mixed together and I think perhaps that is a good thing.
For me, these snapshots make up my identity. They show – for better or for worse –this is who I am. I am learning to accept my identity though. It hasn’t been easy but I am getting there. That is why I am so glad that I am in a faith community like the one I am in. The friendships I have found there are powerful and awesome. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Embracing my identity is hard. I think that is one of life’s biggest challenges. This is what I have come to learn about this identity though recently: Sharing our snapshots is important. It helps us to be more of ourselves than someone else. Also, our identity can oftentimes be compared to a Polaroid photograph. It can take a little while for it to come into focus. Sometimes we have to take a small step and watch as God takes what is not so clear and adds light to our identity. I think the reason we often struggle with our identity is that we are never willing to wait for God to bring it into focus. We are so consumed with now that we often miss out on the image we are supposed to see.
In closing, I would just like to say that our snapshots continue to take. We can’t shut off the camera. Even if we were to gather all the snapshots of our life, we should never fully see the fullness of who we are through them. There are also the snapshots others have taken along the way that are essential to our journey in knowing who we are. They are valuable. That is why I find it so hard to understand God. We only have snapshots of who He is through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. We can’t and will never have a full image of who Christ is. What we have though is more than enough for us to handle.
I am not a rape baby. I am not a waiter at a restaurant. Those things do not adequately show who I am. I am a child of God. This is where my identity lies. He adopted me – He chose me because He loves me to death – literally. Being adopted has shown me that I have a loving family that cares and being adopted shows me that, for whatever reason, I am God’s.
I encourage those of you who read my site to embrace your identity and to share your snapshots with others. Allow the snapshots that are beautiful to be shown with the snapshots that are not so beautiful. Allow people to see who you are through the snapshots of your life. Embrace your identity and journey with me. Let’s struggle together and pray for one another in hopes that we will come to a place where the snapshots of our lives and our identities meet. In it we will find clarity and fulfillment through Christ. This is who I am. This is my identity. Care to share yours?