I have been pondering the last ten years of my life for a few days now. So much water under the bridge. So many things learned. So many things hurt and so many things healed. I am not the same person. People have come and gone. Money has come and gone. Jesus has always been there, a steady in my unsteady. I can count on my faithful Father. He has never forsaken or abandoned me, and He never will!
I know some of you reading this may have experienced a roller coaster ride these last 10 years as well. You may or may not know Jesus. You may not think there is any hope for you. Some of you may have even been forsaken or abandoned, like me, by someone who you thought loved you. I can tell you these things hurt but they are not the end of life for us. I can tell you that on the other side of pain there is healing and joy. I can tell you that healing is not easy, but it is so very worth it. I can tell you that letting Jesus deal with the dark places of our hearts and the things we don’t want people to see is no walk in the park, however, I would not trade His deep and complete healing and restoration for anything else in this world. There is nothing or no one that compares to it! Looking back over these last 10 years and having to admit mistakes and repent has not been easy either. I have seen aspects of my heart and character I don’t like and don’t want. I still have some things and people I want to reconcile with - I know Jesus will give me the opportunity. I know He will redeem time. Did you know He redeems time? (Joel 2:25) Those of you who think you are out of time – that is not necessarily true. Jesus never leaves us where he found us. He never leaves us the same. He changes those He knows for the best! He takes us out of darkness and places us into great light! (1 Peter 2:9b)
I want to address identity in discussing my thoughts of the past decade. Every evil or bad thing that has happened to you does not get to define you, unless you let it. Bad decisions or behavior you aren’t proud of doesn’t get to define you either, again, unless you let them. I have been (note I said have been) a people-pleaser, lost in what others will think of me if I didn’t keep them happy – all the while looking for acceptance and to feel good enough in my relationships. This people-pleasing mind set and the lies that fueled it, made me the perfect choice for an abuser and other men who, because of their own pain, were less than ideal and who certainly did not love me as Christ (in fact they didn’t know how to love me). I have been a mega spender (a spending addict), spending myself into oblivion to fill a hole only Jesus could fill. I have eaten myself to well over 200 lbs. at least twice in the last 20 years (a food addict), again to fill a hole only Jesus could fill. I am here to tell you that the only person on or off this planet that can completely complete you is Jesus Christ – there is no substitute. He is the only one who can give you an identity that will heal you and not hurt you. All of Elizabeth’s other identities – “people-pleaser”, “the not good enough woman”, “fat girl”, and “spendaholic because I can” were lies. They kept me in bondage to myself and others and had me spinning my wheels for 20 plus years! I was ineffective in many ways and not exactly a danger to evil because it had me right where it wanted me – floundering like a dying fish out of water. I’ve had health problems. I’ve been in physical danger and financial danger because of these identities. I had walked in some of these identities longer than a decade. How’s that for your health? The simple truth is there is no health in lies or identities that don’t come from Jesus. Who am I now? I am His daughter, His delightful one in whom there is no fault found. I am good enough because He is. I am accepted because He made me and accepted me long before I knew Him. I do not have to spend or eat my way to love, I am loveable because He already loves me and has since before I was born! If the One who made me loves me, accepts me, and finds me good enough and without fault then what other opinion counts? No other opinion counts, not even one I’d falsely have of myself. I can be effective now in ministry and in life without all the identity chains weighing me down. I am now quite dangerous to evil and will continue to be so. I have joy I’ve never had! I will never go back to that bondage, not ever! I thank Him every day for healing me! As He is, so am I! (1 John 4:17)
Do you see what I’m getting at here? How we see ourselves and who and what we let identify us is everything! I have seen this play out these past ten years and then some. You can’t escape this reality! I have seen it play out for good or bad in others and myself. My late husband is dead because identity issues killed him. He did not know how much he was loved! He did not even know who he was! Do not be deceived! Identity issues can kill you, literally! Identity issues are at the root of all things painful - whether the pain is inflicted by us or done to us by someone else. In pain, we believe lies. In healing, we find out who we really are and lies and identity issues have no hold on us! In healing, we get to be free; free of expectations, standards, other’s opinions, and most of all free from evil and pain!
As you ponder your last ten years, ask yourself these questions: who or what is attempting to define me? Who or what have I let define me wrongly? Who or what defines me rightly? You might be surprised by the answers. Have you been believing lies? You aren’t a bad person if you have believed lies. We can choose to believe truth while we live! We can change while we live! We can be free while we live! Don’t you want to be free? Don’t you want to be healed? How long will you serve pain and hurt? How long do you want to be subject to identities that aren’t true about you? The answers to these questions are between you and God. I can tell you this; He longs to know you, comfort you and heal you. He longs to set you free as he has done for me! I am looking forward to the next 10 years! There is nowhere to go but up! I want you to look forward to your next ten years with hope! I want you to be free! I want you to know my faithful Father too! With much love, Elizabeth