Truth #6 – Your Identity Determines Your Behavior

When did you lose it? When did your foundation give way, causing you to lose your faith, your hope, and the truth of who you were created to be – only to be replaced with a deceitful lie disguising itself as ‘your new truth’?

I remember. It took me 40 years to identify that time in my life and call it out for what it really was – but in finally being able to do so, I was able to at last remove that long-lived lie and place truth back into its rightful place in my identity.

A few weeks ago I was honored to assist the crew on set of a short film being made for film competitions, and the filming took place in an old abandoned house. It was this abandoned house that triggered memories from 40 years ago that I had worked so hard to forget.

Arming yourself with truth really does set you free.

I spent a lot of time alone while growing up. As an only child I did not have any built-in playmates; and friends – real friends – were hard to come by. My family first moved to Texas when I was 13. At that point, we had already moved 21 times. I lived in many different cities in Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, and Oklahoma, and then moved around quite a bit in the Dallas / Fort Worth area where I live now.

The wide variety of spaces that became my many different bedrooms as a child shaped my belief of who I was. In one 3-room apartment that had a kitchen, living room and bedroom, the bathroom with a broken lock was in the corridor just outside our front door and was shared with 3 other families that lived on that floor.

The only space for me was a 3’ x 3’ closet with an old accordion door that didn’t shut. I slept curled up on a red vinyl bean bag that filled the floor of that closet and spilled out into the small hallway. I distinctly remember though still having a bit of child-like hope, dreaming of one day being able to replace all the roaches crawling around with diamonds I could hang on the wall to make the place sparkle and shine.

Then we moved. Again. This time it was to an abandoned motel where I was directed to my room. Any excitement I felt for finally having my own room was quickly replaced with a broken, defeated spirit as I looked around and saw what I had been given. My red bean bag was now replaced by a deteriorating, smelly mattress on the floor. It lay there amidst the grime of discarded cans, newspapers, molding bits of food in old take-out containers, alcohol and drug paraphernalia, and a few dead pigeons whose feathers were glistening in the light that was streaming in from the dimly lit parking lot through my shattered bedroom window.

That child-like hope of being able to change things or fix things completely disappeared. That’s where I lost it. That’s where the truth of what I was worth and who I was created to be was replaced with the lie that I was as worthless as the garbage on the floor. I was nobody. The bar regarding my self-worth and what I thought I deserved as a human being wasn’t just set low, it was lost – tangled up somewhere in the debris of life just like I was.

I struggled with this defeated belief of worthlessness for years – decades actually. It affects EVERYTHING! Why? Because our identity dictates our behavior. If we identify ourselves as worthless, then in relationships, we settle and self-sabotage, because, well, we probably got better than what we deserved anyway. When we identify ourselves as garbage, why would we polish up our appearance by putting pearls on a pig? I also couldn’t bring myself to invest in healthy friendships, because they’re a two-way street, right? You need to bring something to the table, have something of value to add to the relationship and from my perspective; I had nothing. I convinced myself that I’d just be a bother, they already have enough friends, and they’re too busy anyway.

I felt so empty and lost – most of my life – which was ruled by anxiety. Every step, every word, every action came with heart palpitations, sweats, stomach problems, and an overwhelming fear that at any moment someone would look at me, see me for the fraud I was, and tell me I didn’t belong there – or anywhere.

There was that longing for something more, but it got buried with the truth of who I was created to be. The worst part of it is that it’s really hard to find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Whenever you are looking for something and someone is trying to help you find it, what’s one of the first things they ask? “Well, when did you last have it?”

The implication there is that to find what you’re looking for, you need to go back to where you last saw it, or last imagined it to exist. That applies to tangible objects like your phone and your car keys, and it also applies to intangible items like your self-worth, and the truth of who you were created to be.

Now, 40 years later, standing there in that abandoned house, that moment in time came roaring back to me as our lead character sat in the middle of that filthy floor, and gave her critical line – the title of the film – “I am nobody.”

I was overwhelmed. I knew I had just been given a revelation and the tool I needed to combat that lie I had believed for years.

Now, armed with truth, knowing the very instant in time when that lie jumped into my identity, I was able to face it, challenge it, and see it for what it was – a lie. That old abandoned motel room I was given as a child didn’t determine my worth and identity any more than my bank account does today. Our value cannot be placed in the ever-changing appearances, finances, and circumstances of our world; that is where anxiety lives and breathes and overtakes our lives.

Our identity only comes from WHO we are, and WHO we are becoming, as we grow more and more into WHO we were created to be – which takes a lifetime of discovery provided we give ourselves the chance to be known.

Knowing WHO you are determines how you behave – so take time to discover more of YOU. How? Stop wasting time striving to be significant, trying to control life, and trying to be all things to all people. Instead, take time to stop and discover the significance of who you already are.

So, what is it you are looking for? What is it that you have lost, and where did you last have it or imagine that it could exist?

What lie in your identity needs to be replaced with the truth of WHO you are and WHO you were created to be – a valuable, unique, forgiven, restored, and free son or daughter who has a heavenly Father who RUNS after YOU, searches for YOU, and longs for you to let yourself get closer to Him so you can RECEIVE his never-ending love and grace.

YOU ARE SOMEBODY SPECIAL, with a HOPEFUL FUTURE, here for a purpose far beyond your own comprehension, who today can grab a hold of your TRUE identity as a beloved child of God. Here, you are family – it’s a place of freedom, and a place where you will always belong!

#FollowTheCloud #AnxietyRelief #Anxiety

Truth 6 - Identity Determines Behavior - replace lies with the truth of who you were created to be

Personal Growth

Don’t Misunderstand the Purpose of Walls

“You need to tear down your walls,” she said. A well-meaning friend who recently experienced liberation and the reconciliation of a relationship was now attributing world-wide miracles to the capability of dismantling both physical and emotional boundaries.

“I’m happy for you and I understand your desire to have everyone take part in your experience. But I’m ok. My walls provide a different kind of freedom.”

Walls are rarely built only for decorative purposes. Instead they are intentional devices used to maintain harmony and balance between things that are both outside the walls that want to enter, and the sacred, tender spaces we nurture within the walls.

Significant emotional events in life are what form this bedrock of our existence. Each memory, interaction, and the rewards or consequences for our behavior are what help create each and every block that builds our walls. They are a part of us and their duty is to watch over and protect our fragility.

To simply tear down those walls would be damaging. They are a part of our character, the iron that sharpened our resolve, the record of our scars from battles fought, and the reminder that we have a right to decide who and what we let into our most intimate space. Our walls are part of us, and part of our story.

For those who have never put in the effort to establish walls, they are left without boundaries to protect their inner-sanctum. For those without that protective barrier, they will often find themselves engaging in battles they were never meant to fight with people who crossed a line, people who should have been stopped by a wall.

Leave your walls intact. They have a higher purpose, but it’s not so you can stay idle behind them. That would have you believe you are isolated and alone. When people feel isolated, it’s often because we have allowed fear to stop us from reaching out and grabbing hold of something new. Idleness in isolation is not the purpose of walls. That type of mentality is what will end up destroying you, which is why some people have the knee-jerk reaction of proclaiming that all walls need to be dismantled. However, when walls are considered with the Light of divine guidance and the fact that all things work together for good, we see their true purpose.

Walls are built so we can learn how to climb. Without them, we would not be able to lift ourselves off the ground. Without them, we cannot build on to our story. As we begin to climb, we gain strength, insight, wisdom, and new perspectives we wouldn’t be able to find any other way.

So, how do you climb your walls? It’s all about deliberate, intentional action. You must:

  1. Know Yourself. You have to see your past clearly before you will understand what you need to move forward. Respect the walls and honor who you were at your darkest hour knowing you did the best you could. Evaluate where you’ve been, where you are, and what’s been lost. Take time to first identify, and then grieve for and affirm the value of that which was taken from you in the past. This honors and gives value to your innocence, your childhood, your purity, your safety, your need for someone to care for and protect you unconditionally, and your desire to just be loved for who you were created to be – with all the beautiful flaws that make you uniquely you.As you learn more about who you were created to be, identify and confirm the core values on which you stand and from which you will not waver. Reflect on areas where there is room for growth in your life. Discover your gifts, your talents, your purpose, and the passion still burning in your heart. These answers are what will guide you as you continue to climb and build your story.
  2. Grow Yourself – Circumstances can change without personal growth as a reactive measure, but by being intentional about it, you can proactively bring about the changes you need. Cultivate an environment guided by a growth plan – spiritually, personally, and professionally. It should include setting time aside for your faith, as well as yourself, for self-care, and for gaining knowledge by reading, attending seminars and conferences, joining online communities that post blogs and articles of others who have succeeded in the areas you desire to grow. Look forward to change and new opportunities entering your life, and believe you are capable and worthy of all things good.As you grow, know that everything you need is within you, you may just need to remove some of your clutter – like fear, unforgiveness, bitterness, envy, anger, pride, and other obstacles – they have no value to you and only block your light, energy, talents, gifts, purpose, and passions from shining through.
  3. Show Yourself – What value is anything if it is not used? Your story gains value by telling it. Show your scars, your vulnerabilities, and your “lessons learned.” Be intentional about becoming a light for others as you Radiate with newfound purpose. You can only be loved to the extent that you are known. Climb your walls, and then use them as a new foundation to step out and be seen for who you are and share the incredible gifts you have to offer the world.

As you get to know yourself, grow yourself, and show yourself to those who need your light, each intentional action not only provides healing from the past, but also provides perspective from which you are able to see more clearly and farther than ever before. With these new vantage points, you will recognize others on similar journeys and can cultivate new connections that help you climb higher still.

In taking this journey, your walls aren’t just walls anymore. Now they are the elevated foundation upon which you find your freedom. As you climb beyond the limitations of your past, you realize it’s not just about success – an accomplishment you do alone – but about significance, an achievement far greater that changes lives as you show others that they too can climb.

Don't misunderstand the purpose of walls

Spiritual Truth

Whispers of God

I love the whispers of God. Especially when He repeats Himself so clearly that I know without a doubt He is intimately involved in my life.

Last week I worked on some videos for my upcoming training on Intentional Living, and so before hand, I’m ‘pumping myself up’ to show energy and to convey a specific type of vibe. According to previous coaching and training for speaking, my preparation included a mantra I would mentally repeat to help me compensate for areas where I felt weak. “I’m confident and I have infinite value. I’m beautiful just as God made me and people are drawn to me…” Those phrases then got reduced down to a 3-word chant of “I’m Confident, Worthy, Appealing. I’m Confident, Worthy, Appealing…”

Then, before hitting the record button, something stopped me in my tracks. I felt compelled to ask, “God, that is what others have told me I need to convey as I speak, but what do You want me to convey?”

Instantly, the word ‘humility’ was whispered to me. Hmm, I know that Word wasn’t from me because my human nature does not first go to humility. However, I knew that was a much better approach and that it was time to release my previous mantra.

Because I had three traits before, I wondered if there were two more traits to add. So I asked again, “Lord, what else would you have me convey?”

“Truth,” is what He whispered next. I smiled with confidence, knowing this was God, because truth, along with unwavering faith, is my whole foundation for living.

“Is there a third?” I asked.

“My gift of Love,” He whispered. I know without a doubt that His infinite Love covers everything.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

I went on to complete my videos – with a heart full of humility, truth, and love – and I felt great about the task I had completed for the day. It was late and I wanted to go straight to bed because doing videos wears me flat out. However, the Bible next to my bed was drawing me in.

I knelt down and my hands were guided to Psalm 45. Then God’s whisper and intimate love covered me like a warm, glowing blanket as He confirmed His words from earlier in the day.

“And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness; And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things.” (Psalm 45:4)

I read those words and wept beside my bed. These were tears of overwhelming joy at knowing my heavenly Father cares about me so intimately that we can have these precious moments together – just He and me – where I can feel him close, speaking to my heart.

Most importantly, I have learned to be able to recognize his voice as words and thoughts impressed upon my heart. These are words I must steward well.

So, my new mantra for living is to do everything with humility, truth, and love. After all, we are cloaked in His righteousness, which is His ultimate love on display in our lives.

As I face challenge after challenge this week, this new mantra has proven to be an amazing game-plan for my life.

If you need a new focus for how to go about your day, or are unsure about how to handle a challenge you are facing, may I suggest you give this mantra a try: Today, I will display humility, truth, and love. This is a great way to walk in the character and power of Jesus Christ. I promise he won’t steer you in the wrong direction.

Because where he is taking you, is far better than where you’ve been.

May God and His grace help us all to live out each and every day with an abundance of humility, truth, and love.

8 2016 truth, humility and righteousness