Monday, October 31, 2011

Unwrapped & Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria.  This is a place to share what is on your mind.  It is a place where vulnerability is accepted, where heart cries are honored, where struggles are heard.  It is a place where we are unconcerned with the quality of your words, but about the state of your heart.  We are a community of women that seek to encourage, support, love each other with our words.  There is laughter.  There are tears.  There is everything in between.  No matter where you are, who you are, where you have been, I want you to know that you are in the fold and that as you leave your link, you are prayed for.  Desire more information?  Please click here for the full scoop.
photo source
What I am about to share may entice you to have second thoughts about me when you read this fact, but alas, it is such a good example of my point that I have to share.  Here is my confession:

I used to think that if I lost a game of Words with Friends that people would think I was stupid.  And, to be honest, perhaps I had built up my supreme wins so much that I thought that if I started losing, people would start seeing me differently.  Perhaps, if I started losing, I would begin to see myself differently.  Perhaps I would say:  "Well, there is something else you aren't the best in..."

Ridiculous.  I know!  And yet, at the time, I really didn't know.  You see, my whole life, I never entertained the fact that my failures were separate from my identity.  I never considered that just being who God created me to be would be enough.  But perhaps the problem was, I didn't know what my identity in Christ was.

Last week in Bible study, I asked my class to respond to this question and write their answer down in their journals:

"How would you define yourself?"

I then handed out two sheets of paper.  One was entitled "Who Does God Say I Am?"  You can find the whole document online, but here is a snippet:

• I am a child of God.

But to all who have received him--those who believe in his name--he has given the right to become God's children … (John 1:12).

• I am a branch of the true vine, and a conduit of Christ’s life.

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me--and I in him--bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing (John 15:1, 5).

• I am a friend of Jesus.

I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father (John 15:15).

The second sheet of paper held a list of spiritual gifts, such as encouragement, evangelism, teacher, leadership, hospitality, writing.  I asked the class to compare their definition of themselves to the content of the sheets.  Which list did their definition most resemble?  Which list would yours?

Most all of them defined themselves by their giftings from God, but not by God Himself.  And thus, when our self-worth and identity is based on something we can do and use, when we fail, when we don't measure up, when we don't rise to the place we deem success, we feel pretty low.  And when we feel low, we compare ourselves with others, we try to over-achieve, or we just shut down and don't do anything.  Maybe we delete our Words with Friends account completely...

Your gifts are not your identity.  Gifts are something that are meant to be picked up and used for a time and then set back down again.  God created us out of love and equipped us with gifts that enable us to do His work, but it is when we clothe ourselves with our gifts, we feel naked and exposed when they do not fulfill the expectations we set out for them, and for ourselves.  God doesn't want us to be naked and exposed.  He doesn't want us comparing ourselves to each other.  He doesn't want us overachieving, leading to fatigue and burnout and a low sense of self-worth.  He wants to clothe us with His love, with His Spirit.

Unwrap yourself today, friend.  You will be surprised how beautiful you are when it's just you.  May you see yourself as Jesus sees you -- a new creature, a friend of Jesus, a citizen of Heaven.

SDG Community Builder:  God gave me this prayer to pray the other night.  Would you pray it with me?
Father God,
May the women who enter here feel welcomed.  May they feel loved.  In turn, may those who enter here welcome and love by Your power and grace.  May she know that her worth is not in the number of comments she gives or receives, but by You, and You alone.  Amen.

If you would like to be on the Soli Deo Gloria prayer request email list, please let me know in the comments.

Also, a fellow SDG girl is in need.  You can read more at Cooking Up Faith, A Meal in the Mail Ministry.

oh, and last thing.  I promise.  s(He) Listens Ministries is now on Facebook.  If you have a second, will you like me on FB, just like you do in real life?  :)

34 comments :

  1. So good, friend. I had to read and re-read that paragraph about gifts and identity. I don't want to forget its truths. I've been guilty of defining myself by the gifts, instead of the Giver. Thank you for your transparency and your welcoming, gracious heart. Your web-space is a gift. ((HUGS))

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  2. "May she know that her worth is not in the number of comments she gives or receives, but by You, and You alone. Amen." I needed this today Jen--all of it. How is it that we know these things, but forget so easily to apply what we know when our feelings tell us lies?

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  3. I too, do not want to forget this. Much easier to extend grace to others than myself...

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  4. Such truth here, Jen. And your prayer...breathing that in deeply tonight. Thank you for that, friend.

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  5. I appreciate your honesty, Jen. It's sometimes so hard to see ourselves unwrapped. We feel ugliest when we're naked. But God has wrapped us in his righteousness; is there any greater beauty than that? May I learn to see myself more through his eyes than through my own.

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  6. "He wants to clothe us with His love, with His Spirit" ... I so need to wear the "outfits" of His love and Spirit tonight. Thank you for sharing your heart here

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  7. Jen, I've never played Words with Friends, but I get the sentiment. I used to have the mentality that if you don't write like Shakespeare, don't pick up your pen (or keyboard). I'm getting better, maybe. I'm glad you shared your heart about this. I don't think it could be stressed enough to women that we should not compare ourselves to others.

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  8. Jen...for me to find my identity in anything other than who I am in Christ...only leads to either pride...thinking it was me...or I can go down the negative path...thinking I am nothing...both is a lie... We can do doing apart from Him...only "to be clothed in His love and His Spirit."
    thanks for being honest...we all all but dust:)
    Blessings sweet Jen...

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  9. Beautiful post as always, Jen. That prayer really spoke to my heart. Thanks! You have such a beautiful heart for the Lord.

    Mel

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  10. Seeing ourselves as He sees us...that's the key, isn't it? Your prayers speaks, Jen. Thanks.

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  11. Oops, Jen, looks like I entered twice. Feel free to delete me, Mr. Linky was acting up.

    This is a great exercise! I loved this: "Gifts are something that are meant to be picked up and used for a time and then set back down again. God created us out of love and equipped us with gifts that enable us to do His work, but it is when we clothe ourselves with our gifts, we feel naked and exposed when they do not fulfill the expectations we set out for them, and for ourselves."

    I've never thought of it quite that way, but it makes so much sense. Hmmm. So now I'm wondering what I am using as a covering when it should only be His love.

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  12. Jen,
    I love this post! I feel it ties in with the study I am currently doing in Romans. Reiterating that works do nothing for our salvation, just as they do not give us our identity. We are such a driven society that I think we struggle to not DO something. We don't know what to do when it isn't really even up to us! Then we judge those who we don't feel are doing what and how they should be doing.
    And now I will quit before another Mary/Martha analogy comes up. :)

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  13. Oh, Jen, so thankful my identity and worth isn't based on Words With Friends...cause sometimes I would be really stupid. LOL!

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  14. Ok, I wrote a comment but it disappeared... Trying again.

    Jen I can't believe this post. I only came here after writing my own post - and this is exactly the same issue I'm struggling with. Thank you for making this confession :)

    May God set us both free from this burden!

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  15. First time linking up...thank you for hosting this!

    And I so needed to hear what you shared...as a "doer" it's SO HARD to separate my identity in Christ from what I do.

    I'd also like to be added to the prayer request email list: hungerandthirst(at)live(dot)com

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  16. This a great post. Thanks for sharing the idea and resources with us. I love your statement: " Gifts are something that are meant to be picked up and used for a time and then set back down again."

    Reminded me of an insightful conversation I had with a Christian counselor while going through some tough discernment. He said it appeared I was using/overusing some of my gifts while neglecting others that God was inviting me to now use. That gave me the 'permission" to let go, to set down as you wrote, gifts for awhile and to pick up the ones whose time was now.

    great points!

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  17. Such a good post Jen. Thanks for sharing. I'll definitely be checking out those links. I think I needed to hear this right now.

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  18. Amen. Thanks Jen, needed this today. xxx

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  19. Oh Jen, I've had similar thoughts. I was hesitant to play Words with Friends or Scrabble because I didn't want people to see how "un-smart" I am. "I never entertained the fact that my failures were separate from my identity." I am not what I do, but who God says I am. Great truth, thanks for sharing! Many blessings!

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  20. I don't know what I think about this...I read it three times... perhaps I am missing something.
    I think that God gives me gifts based on who He sees me to be...hence I am indirectly defined by my gifts.
    or is there a difference between gifts and my giftings?
    am I just being confused by semantics.
    The abilities/gifts that God has given me are a gift from Him... it would be insulting (my opinion) for me to not use them to the best of my ability to glorify Him....isn't the very act that of worship?
    much to think about.
    T

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  21. You are deeply loved by the One who rejoices over you with singing. Let's keep reminding one another of the truth of this. We have an enemy who continues to come to us, planting the same seed of doubt he did at the beginning, "Did God really say that? Is it really true?" Yes, yes it is.

    Working from Starbucks and trying to link with dreadfully slow internet. Hoping I can catch up on some reading here. Power and internet out all over the state--please extend grace if I don't leave comments this week?

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  22. @aseedinspired

    I believe that God does give us gifts and enables us to use them (and yes, I think it would be selfish not to use them when asked to), but my point is that we (or at least I) often get so caught up in making sure I use my gifts (and using them perfectly) that I forget that at the core, what I am, is a Child of God. Nothing I do or don't do can shake that. I can't use my gifts to earn my worth in His eyes. I am worthy because He created me. Our gifts can make up a part of our identity, but they cannot consume us or be the entire way we define ourselves. There can come a time when God asks us not to use a particular gift. If we have worn that gift in a way that defines who we are, it is difficult to offer it back to Him.

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  23. Okay I see what you are saying... but do you believe that most Christians struggle with using their gifts perfectly...or most struggle using them at all?
    Because from where I stand... I think most struggle with knowing what the heck their gifts even are...and then in that; what to even do with them...so I think most struggle with analysis paralysis.
    Would He ask me to give the gifts back?..hmmm...good question...yes I think that possible if I made the very gift an idol...or took credit for it.
    lol...I am sorry I don't mean to hyjack I just think what you are saying is interesting and ...well... just wanted to hear more, to discuss it.
    T

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  24. Oh! I think your first line brings up a good point. It's the other side -- it's a side I am not familiar with. I'm one of those who have lived a life seeking perfection from myself. I've tried to prove my worth. And there have been times when pride has gotten the best of me. I think that many people probably don't know their giftings. But I also think that many may not know their identity in Christ either.

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  25. Okay...love it... so what do we do about that?
    How can we help women (or whomever) know who they are in Christ...obviously only He can bring revelation...but no doubt He uses people like you and I...
    What could/would help others to understand?
    T

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  26. "but it is when we clothe ourselves with our gifts, we feel naked and exposed when they do not fulfill the expectations we set out for them, and for ourselves." This is really true. For me, I've recognized this as pride and in that, yes, I have not been able to always use the gifts God has given me to the fullest (because I've been in the way). I've even sensed a necessary waiting on the Lord as he prepares me to be able to use my gifts for his glory and his glory alone.

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  27. I thought I was the only one who felt this way about Words With Friends!! Once again, you bring me to the realization that my gifts are not my identity. This is truly a relief seeing that most of the time, I don't feel very gifted! ;D You are such an encouragement!!

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  28. Hi there! I was "competitive" like that too, but like you, I was finding my significance in the wrong places -- thank God he's patient and persists in working truth into my life to transform it. Wonderful exercise to do at a study -- I would have loved to have been there in person, it was probably a blessed morning. I do ask for prayer for continued healing - my family was struck by a drunk driver in August. We all lived, but I am in a long period of recovery. This is sometimes very difficult, the pain is wearisome and I can't be the wife and mom I usually am. God is meeting me, and that has been amazing. Thanks!

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  29. I am a huge Gifts of the Spirit fan - such a fan I even got "certified" to teach Don and Katie Fortune's Spiritual Gifts -since I talked about it so much, used it as an encouraging tool on the play ground, in the car, anywhere - When you made me think of Gifts being picked up and set down in a seasonal way, it made me think of how we learn to use those gifts dexteriously, differently than we ever imagined - even a sword goes in its scabbard - but a sword can protect, cut bread, stay out of the way while other gifts move at times! Gifts are not always the hero with the spotlight. I hadn't thought of it that way! Now you've got my brain churning!

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  30. Hey Jen, thanks for being so honest. I am going to go and unwrap myself!!! God bless you and your ministry!

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  31. Sorry I put my link up twice, the first one is broken...

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  32. @aseedinspired...

    I think the best thing we can do is encourage each other to stay in the Word-- this is what keeps me most tightly tied to His perspective of me and the world. And I think, when people come to me to ask advice or whatever, being willing and ready to offer His Words instead of my own -- always pointing back to our Creator somehow affirms how we are created.

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  33. Just want to say thank you once again for this wonderful blog Jen. Your honesty is appreciated and reminds us that we're all human!

    One by one I am visiting all these wonderful blogs - bless you for connecting so many people in the name of the Lord!

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  34. Same wave length is an understatement. But God is so good to keep reminding us to just "be" and not "do". Thanks, friend.

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