Identity Crisis? Call it what you will.

Contributor: Emmarie Moon

I’ve been hearing a lot about identity the last couple of months and really felt a continuous nudge to write about it. What is identity? The word itself means the qualities, beliefs, etc. that make a person/group different from others; who someone is. Everyone has an identity. As you get older, the sense you have of who you are becomes stronger and more in depth. Children might say they are a daughter/son, student, classmate, teammate and friend. As we get older, we start to broaden our views of who are, including our job, car, spouse, kids, even personality traits. These are all good things to associate with, but are not where identity comes from.

You may be wondering why on earth I’m writing this blog if I’m just going to rip your sense of who you are right out from under you. Don’t worry, I’ll give it back. But it might look a little different.The end of my junior year/ beginning of senior year of high school, I started to have an identity crisis. The sport that I was really good at suddenly became more competitive for me as talented underclassmen came into the spotlight. Everyone I knew started asking me where I was going to college and what I was doing with the rest of my life-and I had no idea yet. I got swept away by letting society tell me who I was, what i had to become and the qualities I needed to have in order to be successful; to be someone in this world.

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I got swept away by letting society tell me who I was, what i had to become and the qualities I needed to have in order to be successful; to be someone in this world.

It was then i asked the question: where is God? I knew Him my entire life, I knew He was good, I knew He had my back, but I couldn’t feel him. I didn’t feel fulfilled.  I started frantically searching for places to squeeze my identity into – people I could relate to and a person I could strive to be like. Even after reading every cliche quote about who you are, nothing made me feel significant enough. See, that’s the thing about this world. Everything that seems fulfilling suddenly isn’t when you’re not the smartest, the fastest, the best singer, the strongest, the kindest or the best at speaking  anymore.I finally reached out to one of my youth group leaders who told me to start reading in Ephesians chapter 1. If you’re like me, I read it three times and was still confused as to what was going on.

To sum up most of the section, the Message version says in verses 11-12 “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.” If you’re interested in the rest of the verse, see the message version of Ephesians chapter 1 as a whole.The benefit of putting our identity in Christ is that it never fails. While we get old, or our  talents fade, or trends move on, the foundation of God’s love is timeless. It seems to me that people especially in my age group have poor self image. I think this is because as humans we try to put our identity in our looks, talents, job, income, children, spouse – places it was never meant to be. Sometimes it just takes God slapping you in the face saying, “Be still and know that I am God.” ~Psalm 46:10So what is the difference between my identity before and my identity now? Nothing. My identity in Christ has always been there, but now I know what it is. I am a child of God. I am loved, I am sought after, I was chosen and God has a plan for my life. And no matter what happens in the world around me, those qualities will never change.

Gold – Britt Nicole

Listen to the words of this song and be encouraged. God’s love makes you worth more than gold. Don’t try to find your value in what you can do or what you look like. True beauty is in the truth of the scripture!

“Gold”

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh oh

You were walking on the moon, now you’re feeling low
What they said wasn’t true, you’re beautiful
Sticks and stones break your bones, I know what you’re feeling
Words like those won’t steal your glow, you’re one in a million

This, this is for all the girls, boys all over the world
Whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
So hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine
From the inside out it shows, you’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold, you’re gold)
You’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold, you’re gold)

When everybody keeps score, afraid you’re gonna lose
Just ignore they don’t know the real you
All the rain in the sky can’t put out your fire
Of all the stars out tonight, you shine brighter

This, this is for all the girls, boys all over the world
Whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
So hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine
From the inside out it shows, you’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold, you’re gold)
You’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold, you’re gold)

So don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not loved
And don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not enough
Yeah there are days that we all feel like we’re messed up
But the truth is that we’re all diamonds in the rough

So don’t be ashamed to wear your crown
You’re a king you’re a queen inside and out
You glow like the moon, you shine like the stars
This is for you, wherever you are

Oh, oh, yeah, yeah, oh, oh,
You’re gold

This, this is for all the girls, boys all over the world
Whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
(So hold your head) So hold your head up high,
It’s your time to shine
From the inside out it shows, you’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold, you’re gold)
You’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold you’re gold)

So don’t be ashamed to wear your crown
You’re a king you’re a queen inside and out

Real or Fake: Photoshop in Real Life

Those glossy images on magazine covers…. long legs, thin torsos, sun-kissed skin tone.

I wouldn’t call them “fake”. But I wouldn’t call them”real” either.

After all, the photoshopped photos of Jessica Simpson are, in fact, Jessica Simpson. But it’s not reaaallly her. It’s not reaallly real. It’s not down to earth. Authentic. Genuine.

Which is why Cindy Crawford, a famous actress, is quoted as saying. . . “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

So ask yourself. Do you care more about being picture perfect? Or showing this world who YOU truly are?

I know what God would want. He created YOU. Not the airbrushed, filtered version of yourself. He created the real, down to earth, authentic, genuine you.

Psalms 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Make-up or no make-up? That’s not the question.

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Alright, ladies, admit it. We’ve all had those days. The ones where we wake up in the morning, feeling pretty good about ourselves, and then, we look in the mirror. And we see it, the red, ominous dot on the center of our face, the zit.

Well my wedding day was one of those days. No amount of airbrushed make up or a side swept bang could cover up the giant blemish marking the most important day of my life.

Everyone told me I’d grow out of it. The oily skin I had when I was younger would give my skin a healthy glow when I grew up… but I turned 22 years old to find myself a grown married woman who still battles the not-so-beautiful marks on my face. Not exactly the skin that Proactive promised me.

I still spend money on face scrubs, more money on name brand lotions for sensitive skin, and even more money on makeup to cover up the zits when those products don’t work. It’s a seemingly hopeless cycle of covering up what’s underneath.

And, it makes me question, what else do I try to cover up? How often do I try to present the best version myself? Am I trying to be someone else rather than being who I truly am?

I wish I could say that someday we’d get over it, that adults do not obsess about their appearance. But anyone who has a grandmother knows that she still spends an hour curling her hair and applying lipstick for the morning church service. Women want to be beautiful.

And the glossy magazine covers don’t help. We thumb through page after page of long legs, thin torsos, and sun-kissed skin as we wait for our spot in the grocery line, wishing we looked like someone else. Teenagers want to look like Sarah Hyland, middle age women want Jennifer Aniston’s body, senior citizens want Meryl Streep’s timeless beauty, and almost every woman envies Beyonce’s curves.

But the perfect images we see give us a delusional version of reality. I wouldn’t call those images “fake”. But I wouldn’t call them “real” either. After all, the photoshopped photos of Kim Kardashian are, in fact, Kim Kardashian. But it’s not really her. It’s not really real. It’s not down to earth, authentic, genuine.

I bet even the stars wish they looked like the pictures they see of themselves. Cindy Crawford, an ‘80s actress, is famously quoted as saying “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

So ask yourself. Do you care more about being picture perfect? Or showing this world who YOU truly are?

I know what God would want. He created you. Not the airbrushed, filtered version of yourself. He created the real, down to earth, authentic, genuine you.

Psalms 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Now, don’t get ahead of yourself. It seems that the counter cultural reaction to all of the Botox injections and fake baked skin would be a complete rejection of everything and anything that enhances our beauty.

But Paul’s warning in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 against women with braided hair and jewelry was never meant to discourage women from being beautiful, it was meant to discourage women from being a distraction.

It isn’t wrong for me to enhance my God given beauty, wear make-up or cover up my zits in the morning. In fact, I recommend it. But it’s wrong if those things become a distraction. When I become dependent on my appearance for my confidence then I’ve neglected one of the first truths that God’s Word revealed about human beings in the very first chapter of Genesis.

We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

Our identity isn’t in our appearance. It is in Him. When we find our confidence in what we look like, we freak out. Because, no matter how pretty you are or how pretty you think that you are, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have one of “those” days. If we find our confidence in what we look like, we’ll be disappointed.

But, when we find our confidence in who God is, we’ll never be disappointed. If we realize that his plan for our life is bigger than a bad hair day or a zit on our face, we don’t have to freak out over our outward appearance.

Even on a day as important as your wedding day, you can look at the big picture and realize that something as insignificant as a zit doesn’t matter at all. I confidently marched down that wedding aisle toward the man that I loved, knowing he would love me the same.

This is the type of security and confidence we find in Christ. Because the truth is, you are more than your weight. You are more than your popularity. You are more than your beauty. You are His.

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break your bones…. but words will hurt too.”

You’re fat.

I don’t like you.

You’re ugly.

Your’e dumb.

It’s amazing how hurtful words can be when we put our confidence in what people think.

[Insert the big BUT (with one “t”) here]

BUT You are more than your weight.

BUT You are more than your popularity.

BUT You are more than your beauty.

BUT You are more than your brains.

You are His.

Girls are picked at, made fun of, and sometimes put down just for being a girl. Watch this video and be reminded that God created you to be powerful, confident, and brave.

What Makes You Feel Beautiful?

It’s not up to someone else to decide if we’re beautiful.

This group of ladies discuss what makes them feel beautiful. And it’s not what you’d think.

It’s not their hair.

It’s not their skin.

Or their waistline.

Beauty is about more than what they look like. They feel most beautiful when they make others feel beautiful.

Making a deep connection.

Looking through the eyes of a loved one.

Fulfilling the purpose God gave them.

What we do says so much more about who we are than what we look like. 

Dear Brokenhearted

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Dear Brokenhearted,

You are not alone.

We have all been betrayed, abandoned, or wounded by someone we love. Some offenses are greater than others, but we all are familiar with the ache of heartbreak. The low, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as the person you thought you knew chooses to stop caring.

Hope dies, and your heart cries, “This is not the way things are supposed to be!”

And, you’re right, it isn’t.

We serve a God who is love (1 John 4:8), and what He designed was good, very good (Genesis 1:31). Heartbreak wasn’t a part of the original design but a product of the fall. It’s a fervent reminder that this is not our home.

The person that broke your heart, their lives are affected by sin just like yours is. It doesn’t give them a Get Out of Jail Free Card for their behavior or their inability to protect and treasure your heart, but it’s merely the reality of living in a broken world. People are going to disappoint you. In fact, although you may not want to hear it, I guarantee you disappointed them too.  This is because we are all constantly in a battle against our selfish flesh, struggling to die to self so that He may become greater (John 3:30), and so we can actually love the way we are called to (1 Corinthians 13:4-13). The sad truth is that often our hearts get caught in the cross fire of someone’s struggle to die to self. This does not make the person bad. This definitely doesn’t give you the right to hate them. It merely makes them human just like you.

You may have been disappointed by someone, they may have changed, but you have a Heavenly Father that is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and He promises that nothing in all creation can separate you from His love (Romans 8:38-19).

God loves you. He also loves the person that broke your heart.

You have a choice to do the same. Although often it is necessary to distance yourself from a friend, boyfriend, or family member after a heartbreak, you can still choose to honor them by not gossiping or smack talking about them. They are a beloved child of God, made in His image, and therefore your tongue should respect them as such (James 3:8-10). It’s not easy, but it’s right. God is just, your difficult choice to do what is right in spite of your pain will not go unnoticed. (Galatians 6:7-10).

So my dear brokenhearted this is not just about your pain. It never is. You have a choice. You will either become a victim of your circumstance and allow it to define you, or you will allow it to refine you.

Romans 5:3-5 tells us, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

You can either listen to the voices that will trap you in a cycle of self pity, feelings of unworthiness, and distaste towards the one that caused your pain, or you can choose to allow God to define and refine who you are. He says you are loved (John 3:16). He says you are His child (1 John 3:1). He says you are radiant (Matthew 5:14). He says you are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). And even in your weakness He says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

My dear brokenhearted friend, I am sorry. I’m sorry that you had to experience this, and I don’t want to make light of your pain. Trust me, I understand. All I want is for you to see there is more than this moment. God desires more for you than your broken state, and He’s ready to help you overcome it.

So, take a little time. Eat the ice-cream. Cry the tears. Mourn the loss.

But.

Don’t let it define you. Allow God to refine you.

The Power of the “Like”

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Popularity.

Aka – the favor of the general public….or something that used to be measured by whether or not you were offered an invitation to sit at the cool girl’s table at lunch.

But today we often judge our social status by the number of likes our latest post on Facebook or Instagram receives.

We’ve all done it. Posted a picture or updated a status only to check our computers or phones every five minutes to see if anyone has liked it yet. Once the first person likes it there is an instant relief at being accepted. Someone thinks I’m as cool as I want them too!

BUT…it’s followed almost immediately by the desire for another and another and another person’s approval. Especially if your friend has posted something at the same time as you OR something similar. Then it becomes an all-out war to see who is more “liked”.

This vicious cycle will repeat itself: two, five, twenty, maybe fifty times a day. The “Like” button has dangerous power over us that we don’t really want to acknowledge, but we know it’s there. We fear no being accepted. We fear not having peoples favor. We fear we are unlikable.

The Bible has something awesome to say about this, and I think that you’ll agree with me when I say that it’s pretty right on.

Proverbs 29:25 (GNB) “It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord you are safe.”

When we place our value in what others think of us it is dangerous. Flat out. It gives people power they are not equipped to manage well. In the case of social media it’s not only what they say that concerns us but also what they don’t say. It’s not so much the fear of someone writing “Woah, that’s a horrible picture,” but the lack of “likes” that has us trying to find the perfect filter for our latest Instagram.

But God is so faithful. Not only does He take the time to point out to us that placing value in what others think is dangerous, but He tells us “Hey, trust in Me and you are safe.”

The definition of safe is: to feel protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; to be secure, protected, shielded, sheltered, guarded, and out of harm’s way.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful! I mean seriously, in a world where every part of your appearance, wit, humor, intelligence, and experiences are on display for the world to see who doesn’t want to feel safe?

I’m not saying to not participate in social media. It can be an awesome tool when used properly! It’s fun! It keeps you connected! I’m just suggesting that next time you post something be conscious. Choose to find your identity wrapped safely in the arms of your Heavenly Father. Know whose you are. You don’t need the acceptance and approval of the masses or even of one. That is not where your identity lies.

Placing your value in the hands of people is risky business, but placing it in God’s hands will never disappoint. You will always be safe.

Bruno Mars Wishes he had Chosen Purity?

Bruno Mars Purity

In a beautiful, yet little known track called If I knew, off of his latest album, Bruno Mars sings:

“I wouldn’t have done all the things that I have done/If I knew one day you’d come.”

The entire song is about how when he meets the woman of his dreams, he wishes he could give her “all of the innocence” that she gives to him. I encourage you to give the song a listen; don’t worry, it’s relatively short…

The first time I heard this song, I was shocked that a secular artist would admit that sexual immorality is not a wise long-term move. You see, purity is not just a Christian thing that we do because we are “good kids”, and we want to keep our parents happy.

God encourages purity because He loves us, and He knows there is no way we will ever regret choosing purity. Yet there are countless ways the lack of purity can bring about devastation. In my 24 years of life, I have never met anyone who says they wish they hadn’t saved themselves and their hearts for marriage. I have however met a tragic number of those who, like Bruno Mars, wish they had been wise enough to choose purity from the start.

Truth is, most of us have a strong desire to be married someday, a beautiful and God-given desire. The song greatly emphasizes how Bruno wouldn’t have done the immoral things he had done if he knew one day she’d come. If we desire marriage and are seeking after God, there is an incredibly good chance we will one day have that special someone come into our lives…after all, God is a big fan of marriage, He did create it.

Let’s not wind up with regrets like Bruno Mars where he is pleading with his dream girl to believe him that he would do it differently if he could. For me, that is a conversation I’d rather never have to have, and I hope you agree.

So ladies, instead of living 100% in the now and making impulsive decisions like many of our friends and celebrity icons. Let’s start thinking about the future. Let’s focus on when we someday meet that handsome man who we will want to give everything to on our wedding day and every day thereafter, and let’s make choices that will make our lives as joyous and baggage free as they can possibly be. In reference to what a Godly wife looks like, in Proverbs 31:12 it says, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  Let’s start living intentionally today so we can be a blessing to that man we may meet tomorrow…or 10 years from now.

Guest Columnist: Laura Coulier