Hello everyone! I know I’ve been talking a lot about identity lately. I can’t emphasize how important this is for human beings, to know who we are and who we are not!
Today I want to talk about the deserts of life and identity. Our deserts are meant to refine us. They are places of temptation, pain, trauma, and want. They are places where we overcome such things. Deserts are the places Jesus meets us because he has already been there before us (Matthew 4:1-11). He uses our deserts to heal us and to deliver us from the very temptation, pain, trauma and want he experienced himself (Hosea 2:14 and Matthew 4:1-2, John 19:16-42). They are meant to be necessary pass-through points to the new, good things in our lives. They are not meant to be the place you park yourself and pitch your tent (nor does Jesus desire that you pitch your tent and stay). Deserts are dry and unforgiving. If you stay in your desert, you will dry up and die emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. There is no relief in the desert. Your desert must not become your identity as Jesus’ experience in his desert did not become his!
Now to the all-important question, are you accepting your desert as your identity? This can be a tricky question to answer. How exactly do we know we are accepting our desert as our identity? I think we have to ask more questions to get to the answers. I know this may not seem ideal, but it will really help us examine where we are in our lives and in our hearts. Allow me to offer a few questions/thought statements to help you determine if you are camping in your desert (your pain, trauma, and temptations) and letting it define who you are:
1) This is how I feel, and this is all there is therefore, I must accept it.
The problem with this line of thinking is it negates your choices and any possibility of change from you or anyone else. This thinking also elevates your pain and your feelings far above anything else, as if they were gods. It tells you that you have to accept your current situation and feelings, there is no other way. Please don’t misunderstand me. We have to sit with pain and feelings to deal with them and to heal. We have to recognize they are there. What we don’t do is allow them to be “all there is.” I can assure you coming from a place of pain and lots of scrambled feelings and emotions, pain is not all there is to this life. Emotions are fickle at best and change on a dime. No matter what has happened to us in this life, we still get to choose. We don’t have to blindly accept anything, anyone, or any identity. Don’t sit in this lonely desert. Jesus has so much more to offer you and you have much to offer the world.
2) Is there something or someone I haven’t grieved that is beyond my control?
We have to grieve and let go. Whatever it was, it wasn’t our fault. We didn’t choose this situation. We didn’t cause it. We can’t change it. We can’t change who caused our grief. We can’t change the situation that caused our grief. We must stop waiting on apologies we will never get and justice that may or may not come. You have a full life to live, don’t get held over in the desert because you didn’t grieve a person, place, situation, or thing. Grief is okay and it’s okay for you to process that grief so you can let go and live! Jesus grieved (John 11:35). I did this very thing as well. If Jesus and I can grieve, so can you.
3) “Well, this is just who I am.” or “This is just how it is in my family.”
Refer to thought statement #1 please. Also, if you being you is hurting you or other people, you need to rethink whether that is “just who you need to be.” You are not your family. You are not your dad or your mom or your grandpa or grandma. You are your own sentient being with your own brain, emotions, and thoughts. You get to choose. Again, don’t misunderstand me. I realize we all have struggles and issues within ourselves and our families. My point is, that does not have to be who or what you identify with when it comes to you. Don’t use these copouts to avoid dealing with your trauma, pain, and temptations that harm you and others. This may seem like an easy line of thinking, but it will hurt you far more than it will help you. You can only use these excuses for so long before people will decide they simply don’t want to deal with you because of none other than you. That again, is a lonely place to be.
Please hear my heart for you! I want you to be free! Lonely desert dwelling is not what God had or has in store for you. His plans are good for you because He is good, and they include community, freedom, and complete healing. I will leave you with one of my favorite verses about His plans and you:
Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Now, pack that tent and follow Jesus out of the desert! The time has come.