Finding Who I am amongst All the Girls I’ve Been

Hanging on the wall in my bedroom is a photo from my wedding 9 ½ years ago. In the picture, my husband and I are running forward in our wedding garb. I love it because I feel like it was hugely symbolic for us running forward into the future together. And yet…I feel a separation from that girl in the wedding dress. Who was she? She had no idea about wonderful and terrible things lay ahead. There’s now nearly a decade standing between me and newlywed me.

Sarah Clews Identity

Good changes—I believe I’m more confident now and less judgmental. Bad changes—I’m more fearful and have turned into a bit of a pessimist. My strong opinions at the time and the friends that played a huge role in my life a decade ago, have shifted so dramatically. I am myself—I couldn’t be who I am now without that girl from almost 10 years ago, but even when I look back at things I wrote years ago, I’m surprised at myself.

I’ve enjoyed this quote from L.M. Montgomery’s third “Anne of the Island” book.

“Aunt Jamesina shook her head. ‘Well, I hope so, Anne. I do hope so, because I love her. But I can’t understand her—she beats me. She isn’t like any of the girls I ever knew, or any of the girls I was myself.’

‘How many girls were you, Aunt Jimsie?” [Anne speaking]

‘About half a dozen, my dear.’ ”

Have you ever felt like you’ve been half a dozen people? As people I knew from college are coming up on 30, I’ve seen a lot of posts describing the many life events over the last 8-10 years. We become who we need to be at the time, who others need us to be. Who I am now?

Identity Sarah Clews

The only part of my identity that hasn’t changed is this thread that has anchored me in spite of passing time: I am a Child of God. It’s who I am, and it’s with God that I always know where I belong. I love this lyrics from Lauren Daigle’s song “You Say.”

“…I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe…”

Whatever happens in decades to come, whatever joys and griefs are to come, whatever gets pruned away, one thing will always be true about my identityI am a child of God.

 


Sarah Clews HeadshotSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.

 

 

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He Told Me I was a Mistake; God said Otherwise

It was spoken over me like a puncture in my lungs, letting all the air out and causing me to gasp for breath. “I regret marrying you. This was the worst mistake of my life.” We’d been married for three weeks by the first time I heard those words spoken to me and it was far from the last. I was 19 when I first heard that spoken over me: Our marriage was a mistake. I was a mistake.

I was only a teenager, one who still was figuring out what my identity was and more importantly, who was the foundation of my identity and where my identity was rooted. Yet there I stood, amidst trying to sort it all out and suddenly I was being shaken. Vigorously.

Everything I thought I had established of who I was, stood feebly by while being threatened. I was a daughter, a sister, a friend to a melting pot of genres in school, a “good person”, a rule follower, a Christian, an A-student, a fun-loving girl who was playful and adventurous, and had just shortly before, proudly added “wife” to that list. I had a whole lot of security within that list and was feeling pretty comfortable with what I deemed as my identity.

Identity Kayla Anderson (1)

That comfort was quickly being challenged as the one who was the closest to me, the one who was meant to be my protector and fight for me started adding more words than I ever had thought to include in that list: controlling, the crazy one, not as pretty as the girls online, a terrible wife… a mistake.

It wasn’t more than a quick breath after I learned of his unfaithfulness in our marriage, that I started adding more of my own words to the list: fat, ugly, not good enough, undeserving, worthless, a used piece of trash tossed to the side. Just like that, my identity (or what I believed my identity to be) had morphed into something unrecognizable.

As our marriage crumbled and I was left to try to pick up the leftover pieces of my life, I started sorting through that list. Was I really fat and ugly? Was I really the one who was crazy? Was it actually my fault that he was unfaithful to me? And God, God, am I really worthless?! Will anyone else ever want me?! I had heard “worthless” and believed it for so long that I really had begun to accept and project it over my life.

It had so far seeped into my own list of my identity that as I sat in my parents’ back yard that late summer afternoon as our marriage broke, I began to weep as I talked to my mom about where my life was at. As I told her I didn’t want to get divorced because I had always committed to being a faithful wife but simultaneously felt so worthless and that my marriage was so far beyond repair and that there was nothing I could do to help it. I still so distinctly remember the words coming out of my mouth between sobs, dropped heavy as lead from the weight of my despair, “Mom, I feel so helpless, so isolated and so worthless that I don’t know what to do to get out of this mess and don’t know how to make my life better. . . I’ve thought a lot about just taking my own life to end it all.”

Within a couple days of that conversation, I was moved into my parents’ house and my ex-husband and I started the divorce process. In so many late nights sitting alone in the room of my childhood home, crying to God, to my Redeemer, I prayed and asked Him to redeem my identity. “God, what is left of me? Who do you say I am?”

One night, so late that it had now become the wee hours of the morning, I cried out, pleading, “God! Show me I have worth!” I so desperately needed God to repair the broken identity that had for so long been spoken over me and that I had started to believe about myself. I reached over to grab the Bible nearest to me, which was The Message (paraphrased version). I flipped it open and looked down. My eyes stopped on Luke 1:28. Right there, right in the dark of the long painful night-turned-morning, my eyes caught this verse. Like the wind being put right back into my lungs and my puncture wound being healed in a moment, my breath filled with life again as I read,

 

“Good morning!

You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,

Beautiful inside and out!

God be with you.”

 

As I read and took those words of life in, I could feel myself begin to heal and transform right there,  as I cried to God to come in and redeem – to remind me of His truth about my identity.

Kayla Anderson Identity (1).png

 

I’m beautiful. Beautiful inside and out. God is with me. I am a child of God. I am full of worth – I’ve been bought with a price. I am secure. I am loved. I am redeemed.

Thank you, Lord, for who you say that I am. Thank you for the secure identity found in you.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

Finding God’s HiddenTreasures in Our Identity

I am beginning many new things these days, and they each require introducing myself to new people. However, these new circumstances come with the added advantage of written introductions rather than off-the-cuff, meet-someone-in-the-store type.

You’d think it would be easy! Part of the difficulty is that the forums where I’m introducing myself are all looking at character traits, values, and what-makes-you-tick, rather than roles I have or jobs I’ve done.

Identity Kimberley Mulder

But every time I concentrate on finding the elusive adjectives or identifiers I could claim as my own, I am stymied. What are they? What comes to mind immediately are the accomplishments, certifications, and jobs I have poured my efforts into. It is so much easier to list off a litany of achievements or positions rather than delve into the depths of why I did those things or with what attitude.

I find that I literally have forgotten my character traits! Who am I? What do I believe about myself? About God making me? It takes excavation, intention, and input from my inner circle to unearth them again.

But truly, regardless of what we do, it IS what we believe about ourselves, God, and the world around us, that drives the accomplishments and informs the way we achieve them. Our characters are the bedrock, and this is why Jesus was always addressing character. He shapes and sharpens us.

If we remain on the surface, continually defining ourselves by our latest success, then we are caught in a never-ending marathon to go further, do more, and continually prove ourselves. Each success glows for as long as the latest tweet goes live, and off we go racing for the next accolade; for if we don’t, we will fade into the background, into nothing. Michelle deRusha writes:

“When we’re deep in hustle-produce-achieve mode, we’re more apt to lose sight of our true self – the person created by and beloved by God. Rather than resting in the knowledge of who we are at the center of our heart, mind and soul, we find ourselves scrambling to define and identify ourselves by what we do.”

Kimberley Mulder Identity.png

We want, and God wants, the work we do and the life we live to be an expression of overflow from who he created us to be. He has uniquely made each and every one of us.

I encourage you to consider: How has God uniquely made you? What makes you tick? Look at your values and inspirations, look at adjectives and character traits instead of accomplishments. Study the identity statements in the Bible first and foremost. Get to know yourself as Jesus knows you. Pick up David Benner’s book The Gift of Being Yourself, or pre-order Michelle DeRusha’s new one, True You for some guidance in the deep work of understanding yourself.

If you want your work, your life, to be an overflow of your heart, then allow God to unearth the treasures he’s placed in your character and personality. Let Jesus identify your identity!


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Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Who am I?

Author: Karly Grant

One thing that never ceases to amaze me (although I shouldn’t be surprised by it) is how when there’s something I’m supposed to hear or learn, God uses several different people and situations to teach me. He reminds me of that thing and makes it abundantly clear that I need to listen to what He has to say. Well, folks, it’s happened yet again. Over the last couple of weeks, the words in Psalm 139 have played this role. I’ve heard them in podcasts, sermons, and even Instagram stories. On sleepless nights when I need these words to seemingly random Facebook posts, I’ve been dwelling on, proclaiming, and praying over these words more times than I can count as God consistently lays them across my path.

While dwelling on the theme of identity, I was almost instantly reminded of something that I wrote a while back and knew that I needed to find it. After a little perusing, I found a note that I had posted on Facebook a decade ago. Guess what passage I’d included at the end? That’s right, Psalm  139.

I have edited the note a bit, but the message remains the same. I pray you are blessed and see how perfectly God created you in His image through these words.

Who Am I?

I am Karly Grant.

Possibly one day that will change.

I long for the day when I meet the man that God has for me to spend the rest of my life with, the man whose name I will take.

Who is He? When will God reveal His plan? What is His timing?

I long for that relationship, that companionship, that connection that can only be found in a marriage lived out by God’s design.

I long for the day when my husband and I will raise children: teach them God’s love, teach them to ride a bike, teach them to swim, teach them…

I long to hear their laughter, their tears, to play with them, pray with them, and comfort them.

I long for a family of my own.

I long to be a wife and a mother through the joys and the pain.

Someday, I may have this, but even if not, God is still good.

Karly Grant Identity

I am Karly Grant.

Who am I?

I am a follower of Christ.

I am created in the image of my God and live to bring Him glory.

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. He has rescued me from an eternity in hell. For that alone, I owe Him my everything, so why don’t I give it?

I strive to follow Him, to live a life after the example that He gave.

By His grace alone, I have come a long way.

I have been so blessed.

My life has drastically changed.

I know this, yet still, I wander.

Still, I fail, yet even when I fail, He is still there, still holding on to me.

I am His child. He never lets go.

I strive to live a life that is pleasing to Him,

Strive to let his light and love pour out of me and onto others.

I want to be like Him: love like Him, live like Him, serve like Him, pray like Him, bless like Him, follow Him.

I am a follower of Christ

Who am I?

I am many people, yet only one. I have many names, yet I am one person.

I am a child of God

I am a daughter

I am a sister

I am a friend

I am a prayer partner

I am forgiven

I am a co-worker

I am a worshiper

I am a witness

I am a shoulder to cry on

I am a ball of laughter

I am God’s chosen one

I am a woman

So, who am I?

I am many different people,

but most of all I am exactly who God has made me to be!

Identity Karly Gant

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
 behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
For you formed my inward parts;
 you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
 How vast is the sum of them!
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
 Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139: 1-4, 13-17, 23-24 (ESV)

Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption.

Finding Identity Through Faith

I stared at my reflection in the mirror.  The image that stared back was different than the one other people seemed to see.  Inside, behind those eyes, was more…so much more.   I knew I was plain.  The world had made that perfectly clear, but the problem wasn’t my reflection so much as my inability to self- identify.

Over the years I had heard over and over again that our identity was found in Christ Jesus; that purpose came from living for God and bringing him honor.  I didn’t doubt it.  But that wasn’t the problem either.  My problem was that I didn’t know who I was, or at least I didn’t know how to explain who I was, even to myself.

Identity Jacqi Kambish (3).png

 

My friends could describe themselves in ways I could not.  I never had favorites.  “Favorite” is a term I’ve adopted to describe my current loves, but I don’t have true favorites.  I don’t have a favorite color, a favorite animal, a favorite book, a favorite band, movie, author, subject, food…I don’t have favorites.  I might as well try to pick a favorite star in the sky!  On any given day I may say my favorite color is crimson red, or purple, or yellow.  I might tell you that I love pizza best, or taquitos, or baked potatoes.  I might tell you my preferred creature is a ladybug or a turtle. It’s possible I could tell you that my favorite hobby is painting, snowboarding, reading, drinking coffee, or perhaps writing. I might tell you that what I like best is being with people…except for when I need to be alone.

I can’t tell you what I am specifically passionate about either.  If you ask me what my passions are, I am overcome with the endless number of possible answers, but what I can tell you is that…

I don’t know.

Deep inside is, actually, an eclectic love of many things.  I don’t know what I am most passionate about, but I’d be excited to talk with you about black holes, the lifespan of a turtle, the fact that ladybugs are opportunists, the law of gravity, puppy training, and Jesus (to name a few things.)  I can’t tell you what I like best to eat, but I can tell you that what matters is that I get to eat with you.  I may not be able to tell you my favorite color or my “life verse”  from the Bible, but I am excited by the opportunity to tell you about  God and to share how he is at work in my life.

I can tell you that I love coffee, but I can’t tell you what type or flavor I like best.  I can’t tell you who or what I am because…

What I kept deep inside, for so many years was that I am all of it.  I am a jack of all trades and a master of none.  I am a multipotentialite and an avid learner.  I am passionate about everything; all of it, at the same time.  I am dedicated to painting when painting is called for, reading when reading is called for, building when building is called for, creating when creating is called for, helping when helping is called for, and researching when researching is called for. Nothing is out of reach and yet…everything is.

Jacqi Kambish Identity.png

And there I am, gazing into the mirror, wondering what actually defines me, when I can’t even tell you what my favorite things are.  A crisis of identity arises in the swirl or thoughts while the face in the mirror furors her brows.

And then in the quiet, a gentle whisper breathes, “You are mine.”  And there is rest in that.  Rest in knowing that my identity truly does come from someone deep enough and vast enough to see and hold the entire universe in his hand.  And even if I am a builder,  writer, student, wife, mother, researcher, minister, gardener, and a teacher on any given day, the one thing that always remains true is that I am a Christian.  Even if my favorite color is different today than yesterday, my faith in God is not.  Faith is the anchor of my soul, strengthened by other anchored voices of hope, and that is who I am.  That is my identity: I am a believer, I am a vessel of hope, and I am God’s.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10

 


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.

Convicted: Let Yourself Be Known

I can still remember exactly where I was standing when it hit me. For several years, I had been fielding the same set of questions from well-meaning people, about that one painful place in my life that refused to be ignored. Each story may be different, but I’ve found we all have our own pain point.

Though I knew the people in my life meant no harm, I somehow thought that I needed to protect myself and the wounds others didn’t know their words were picking at. By now, I had figured out all the tricky ways to get out of a conversation. Most either turned the attention to someone else or ducked behind some bit of “Christianeeze” I wasn’t sure I really believed. “Well it’s all in God’s timing,” “Someday,” or “We’ll see.”

Holly Hawes Conviction

Until one day when the conversation continued down the well-traveled path once again, and I was convicted that the lies to the people who love me must cease. It was a different feeling, something liberating as opposed to the condemning whispers I had fought for years. Instead of fear, I felt peaceful and safe and clearly saw what my default had been in the hundreds of conversations that started just like this one.

In an effort to avoid conflict or awkwardness at the pain of the truth, I had been choosing to hide behind a falsehood of “it’s all ok” for too long. How strong this lie is embedded in our culture. The temptation whispered that no one would care if I told them the truth. It was better to stay alone in my struggle and keep the peace than to bring up the hard things.

What I found to be true once I began speaking truth was the absolute opposite.

The words tumbled out of my mouth, and a look of shock came across my friend’s face. “Actually, we don’t know if we’ll be able to have children. We’ve been trying for a long time and it has been really hard. Could you pray for us?”

The shock on her face was full of compassion. She hadn’t meant to step into something painful. She just didn’t know, because I hadn’t told her. I found the more I let people into this hard area of my life, the more love and compassion I received.

When I cowered behind falsehood, I felt alone and hopeless. No one in our lives could care for us, because they didn’t know we were walking wounded. No one could practice Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn,” because I had put up walls around my life and denied access to those who cared about our story. As Matt Chandler has said, “To be 99% known is to be unknown altogether.”

The land of being unknown is a desperately painful place.

I wish I hadn’t tried to be the strong one for so long. I am now convicted that God made us to need one another on purpose. Jesus told us clearly:

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” John 13:35.

Conviction Holly Hawes

In our weakest places, our love and vulnerability show the world a way of living that doesn’t point to how well we are doing at “being ok,” but at what a Savior we have! Jesus, who has initiated such radical love amongst people that those who would never naturally love extravagantly, compassionately, and sacrificially shine a new way in a dark world. When I began to tell the truth, people were able to love me in a way that was impossible as long as I was hunkered down in pain. I saw Jesus in them every time. Their love is a great testament to the God who comforts the broken-hearted, hears our cries, and united us together when nothing else in the world could.

Instead of letting pain make way for bitterness, lies, and envy slowly brokedown relationships I was gently taught to let pain turn to vulnerability, which led to care, compassion, and strong relationships. Though the culturally acceptable lie would keep false peace, my soul tasted Shalom peace, full of wholeness and rightness. When I took the scary step forward in conviction to tell the messy, painful truth God’s people met me faithfully on the other side.


holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been a foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years and works part-time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

When Conviction Leads to the Less Traveled Path

Do you ever find your convictions leading you upstream, taking you outside the norm, even in the context of Christian community? I often find myself wanting validation from others around me about my convictions. While encouragement and community with like-minded people are invaluable, it is not what is of most importance.

Being around so many different people with diverse perspectives and good ways of living out their faith has brought this to the forefront of my mind recently. This summer has been full of family gatherings, old friends, and new friends. One thing that’s stood out to me is the common thread of a deep love for Jesus lived out through a wide variety of personal convictions and styles of worship. In the last few weeks, I’ve encountered small home churches, liturgical services, and large auditoriums. Teachers, parents, nurses, pastors, and accountants devoted to loving their families and communities, at home or across the world.

Rachel Olson conviction

I find freedom here, to seek wisdom that’s appropriate and good but not depend on others’ approval. It’s liberating to know my peace does not hinge on other people seeing the same conviction I see and approving of it. I am learning to confidently take hold of what God’s putting in front of me and not feel like I need to make excuses for it. I don’t need to dwell on if people disagree, or wonder how they’ll feel about it if God’s word says it is true. If others think my convictions are foolish, it no longer hinders me from taking hold of and finding joy in believing God alone. I can follow him and just run my race confidently.

Conviction is a gift that when we follow, enables us to be closer to Jesus. That’s a deep part of the purpose of conviction—to bring us closer to Jesus.

So follow your own convictions, not what people say around you, based on what God says in the Bible. Do that with freedom and joy. See it as a gift.

Because of my convictions and where they have led me these past several years, I’ve at times had some abrupt shock. Moments of questioning and comparing my status to the status quo loom large in my weaker moments. I am still single, without a home, a stable career, or really any roots that look to be building up what we generally associate with adulthood. While many of my friends have homes and families and long-term stable-seeming jobs, here I am being me and wondering if it is enough. At times the truth that God has a purpose for me here and now can be difficult to see. I would love to have my own family, and a life that feels more stable. Sometimes it’s easy to compare my life to others’ and feel like I’m missing out on these things. Or even worse, to wish that I had something to prove my worth to onlookers who probably aren’t even questioning it.

Am I less capable? As a competitive person, it can be difficult to feel like all my friends have the things we normally associate with adulthood and I don’t. I’m an adult, but what represents that?

As I question and process through these emotions again, I remember the decisions that brought me here were made out of strong convictions and a desire to follow God’s leading. If I had chosen a more normal career path, I know I would have regretted not obeying. I would have missed out on so much good that God has invited me into over the last few years. So even in the lack of adult things, I would rather face discomfort and disappointment about cultural expectations and some of my own dreams, than be without the peace of following God’s guidance. He knows better than I do, and I can trust him. It’s better for everyone, for me to follow that, and I won’t be satisfied with other things if I am outside of it. So I choose again that it was is worth it, and keep trusting and following Jesus’s ways. Even when his ways look weird or counter-cultural. If it’s conviction from God it’s worth it, good for the soul, the heart, and the world.

Conviction Rachel Olson

Conviction is a gift that enables, empowers, and equips us to align ourselves with God’s heart.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look for his wonderful face.

The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of Jesus’s glory and grace—this is the heart of conviction.


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.

Anchored Printable: Romans 8:38-39

We all need to be reminded of the great love that is ours in Christ Jesus. Sarah Dohman has created this printable to encourage your heart with the mighty strength of that love. May you rest in knowing you are in God’s hands.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ_ Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword_ 36 As it is written,“For your sake we ar

Click here to download your free Romans 8:38-39 printable!

 


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.

Confusing Conviction with Condemnation

The hazy blue sky, warm summer air. and the lush Oregon greenery, often cause me to ponder the thoughts my brain can’t reach when busyness is attempting to smother. Lately, I have been sitting with the difference between conviction and condemnation. When Jesus followers hear the word conviction, they often cringe—starting to feel slightly uncomfortable and wiggly inside (I know, I’ve had those feelings myself). “I felt so convicted. The Holy Spirit convicted my heart and so on.” I find there is ultimately a sense of shame associated with the word conviction.

If you’ve been following Jesus for any amount of time, Christians LOVE to throw out the term conviction like a death sentence. Clearly, many people have conviction and condemnation tangled up and confused.

Clearly, many people have conviction and condemnation tangled up and confused. (2).png

As I quickly type the words ‘conviction’ and ‘condemnation’ separately into the Google search bar on my web browser, I land upon this definition:

con•vic•tion

noun

  1. a formal declaration that someone is guilty of a criminal offense, made by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court of law.
  2. a firmly held belief or opinion.

con·dem·na·tion

noun

  1. the expression of very strong disapproval; censure.
  2. the action of condemning someone to a punishment; sentencing.

We must stop equating conviction to a sentencing or punishment. Instead of recognizing how the Holy Spirit prompts our hearts to repentance and ultimately glorifying God with a yielded heart, shame moves in and shouts “You deserve death!”

In these moments, dear friends, I urge you to remember WHY Jesus came to earth. Paul writes in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God does not look at our sins expecting us to pay penance for our trespasses. This burden is too great to bear. Instead, when we are convicted or prompted by the Holy Spirit it is done lovingly. God sent Jesus to the Cross to die, be buried, and to rise again after three days to conquer sin and death. Our punishment was taken to the Cross by Jesus and overcome! Our criminal offense is rendered defeated.

Therefore, sisters (and brothers), we can view conviction as a stirring in our hearts to return to God, where He will embrace us with open arms. He does not look upon our faces with disappointment but with eyes of a loving Father. Conviction drives us to sanctification in God. We are not criminals, but children. Children of God.

There is freedom in knowing that no matter how repulsive or heart-breaking my sins appear, NOTHING can stop God from seeing me and choosing me anyway. Nothing I do can separate me from Him because of Jesus (see Romans 8:35). I am not a condemned woman, but free to be who God created me to be.

I am not a condemned woman, but free to be who God created me to be. (2)

The next time you overhear someone speaking of conviction, and know they are switching the terminology of conviction of Holy Spirit with the terminology of condemnation, I encourage you to gently remind them how much God loves them. Repent of their sin, yes, but relish in the freedom of a joyfully surrendered life in Christ.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.

3 Reasons to Embrace Conviction

I loved Anne of Green Gables as a child, not this new-fangled imposter gracing Netflix with an E, but L.M. Montgomery’s creation. In Anne of the Island, Anne is talking to Davy, a child that she and Marilla took in.

“That was your conscience punishing you, Davy.”

“What’s my conscience? I want to know.”

“It’s something in you, Davy, that always tells you when you are doing wrong and makes you unhappy if you persist in doing it? Haven’t you noticed that?”

“Yes, but I didn’t know what it was. I wish I didn’t have it. I’d have lots more fun. Where is my conscience, Anne? I want to know. Is it in my stomach?”

“No, it’s in your soul,” answered Anne.

As a pretty self-aware child, I remember frequently feeling that pricking of my conscience telling me I’d done the wrong thing. Sometimes it felt like a pain in my stomach, a heaviness in my head, and overwhelming shame. Back then, I felt enormous guilt and sense of failure and inadequacy.

As I grew older and learned more about the work of the Holy Spirit and conviction in a Christian’s life, I changed my perspective. Conviction sounds like a really depressing word, but it’s the linchpin of the Holy Spirit’s work in a Christ follower’s life. It’s what prompts change, the tingling pain that causes us to see more redemption in our life.  I now embrace that conviction from a new perspective because it’s actually a reason for hope!

Hope in the Holy Spirit’s Presence

I can be encouraged because conviction is a reminder of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, the presence of God in my life.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”- Ephesians 1:13-14

Each time that I feel that conviction, that voice inside compelling me to action, is a way for me to be sure of my eternal inheritance. I haven’t been forgotten or left behind. God is with me.

Sarah Clews conviction.png

Hope that God Isn’t Finished with Me

Conviction also reminds me that I’m a work in progress. God hasn’t given up on me and His Spirit is still working on me and through me, reminding me of God’s work in my life and His promises. Each time my conscience is pricked, I can know that my soul is continuing to be molded.

All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”-John 14:25-26

Conviction Sarah Clews

Hope in God’s Transforming Power

Conviction through the Holy Spirit is God’s chosen way to work through me. It’s not up to me to grit through and transform myself. God is already at work in me, through the Holy Spirit, through conviction.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.-1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Our conscience, a sense of conviction—these are the works of the Holy Spirit, our Helper. Although guilt might be a default reaction to conviction, I want to remind myself that it’s a sign of God’s transforming power in my life. It reminds me of the presence of God. He hasn’t left me or given up on me. It’s a reason to hope in the One who has saved my soul.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.