About 6 months ago when I was driving home from work, I gave the car in front of me a “love tap” while getting off the exit ramp. After making sure that the family in the car I bumped were okay, the police were notified of the accident so a report could be filed. The officer who responded asked what happened and I took full responsibility. Even though it was not purposeful, it was my fault. In the grand scheme of life, this was a minor inconvenience. That is, until 2 more patrol cars showed up with their lights flashing and they blocked me in. I thought it was odd, but that it must have been a slow night for 3 patrol cars to respond to an under 5 mph fender bender. One of the officers approached and asked my name while looking at my drivers license. I resisted the urge to respond in sarcasm, and simply stated my name; which ironically matched that on my license (I can be sarcastic now). Anyway, he shined his flashlight in my face and said, “No, you’re not her.”. I responded indignantly, “Yes, I am!”. He then explained to me that there was another woman in town with the same name who had a warrant out for her arrest for aggravated assault, fraud and burglary. Again, I responded indignantly; but this time I said “No, I am absolutely not her!”. Thankfully, the officer who knew the other woman came in person to confirm my identity. Although he didn’t know who I was, he knew who I was not.
I have noticed since that scenario of mistaken identity happens a lot. Many times those around me think that I’m someone I’m not. For example, I’m not a mind reader, I rarely have everything under control, I don’t always have the answer, I’m not strong and I am most definitely not perfect. None of that means I’m a horrible person, but it does mean that I’m painfully human. In my head I get that. But I also struggle with a feeling of being “less than” or “not good enough” when my weaknesses manifest by hurting someone around me. For me, causing someone else pain; intentional or not; leads me to question if my identity is really what I think it is. Have I somehow made a mistake in believing that I am a child of God and that He is changing and growing me? After all, if I was truly a Christian I would never offend or hurt anyone … right?
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
I was reminded in this scripture that my belief and acceptance of Christ is what has given me the privilege to become a child of God. As a Christian this is one of the first truths we are introduced to. I believe this to be true, and it is foundational in my faith. Somehow, I have missed learning how to live in this freedom. There is always a gnawing within me to do better, to not fail, don’t let anyone down and above all else, I need to always have actions and thoughts that are filled with peace, love and self-less motives. To do anything else is missing the mark. How many times have I said, “I didn’t have a very Christian response in that situation.”? Even if I’m not condemning myself, I can quickly be put in my place by someone else pointing out that my behavior wasn’t “Christian”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we live sloppy lives with no regard to holiness. What I am realizing in my walk is that instead of beating myself up and living in fear of being kicked out of the family, I need to focus on the truth that I am part of the family.
When I take my children to the doctor, I am automatically the person who is responsible for any cost incurred. There isn’t a questionnaire asking if their behavior has been without blemish, or if they have obeyed without complaint or rebellion. Regardless of what they have or haven’t learned yet, I take on the responsibility of caring for them. It’s not something I’m forced into doing. They don’t have to earn my love and compassion. Granted, there are times that they feel like I’m punishing them unfairly, or that I’m mean because I have reprimanded them. Their view of our relationship comes from a very different perspective, with a limited amount of life experience. I’m not a perfect parent, but my heart toward wanting the best for them is sincere. I don’t want my children to live in fear of being exiled from our family even if their choices or actions were incorrect. If I have the capacity to love my children that deeply, how much more does God love me?
There are going to be times when who we are; especially our identity as a child of God; will be questioned by others. John was asked repeatedly who he was, (John 1:19, 1:21, 1:22 & 1:25) as was Jesus (John 1:46, 2:18, 2:20). Neither were shaken in their identity because of others disbelief. They understood who their Father was, and what their calling was. They weren’t consumed with the next big promotion or possession. Even the stigma of being from the wrong zip code (John 1:46) was not a deterrent. Even receiving affirmation (John 1:34-34 & 1:46) didn’t alter their course.
I’m known by God. Every hidden thought, selfish motive and embraced sin. There isn’t anything that I do that shocks Him. So, if He decided to choose me, I don’t need to impose self-condemnation or receive judgement from others. By spending time in those thoughts, I am too busy looking at my failures to see where God is leading me in this moment, in turn diminishing His influence in my life. If correction is needed, He will provide it (John 2:14). If faith is needed, He will provide it (John 1:50). In the same way, He provides our identity … if we truly receive Him.Read Day 1 Devotion by Scott