On An Alluding Lent, Identity In Christ, and Idols

“If you shut yourself away from life and the children, everything your heart is tied to, and you bang your head against the wall to write something beautiful, it won’t work–your soul will be empty and you will have nothing to write about. But get outside with the children, live life, work, serve, and then it will pour out of you onto the screen.”–Mr. Simmons

Here I am, laid bare. Sometimes it seems as if my writing life will take over everything, like the blob.

A couple of days ago, Ivy came to me at the computer, and in her run-on speak asked, “Mama, it’s a beautiful day outside, and it’s warm and it’s really nice, and we’re all dressed and our room is clean–can we go outside and play?”

“Shh…Mama’s busy. Not now. Yes, we can go later. I’m almost done.” I shoot her a quick half-hearted smile. I feel a piece of my soul snatched away, torn.

A while later she comes back, asks again. Shes does this a few times. Finally, she tells me, “You are going to be on there forever–you’ve been saying that all morning.” Wow. Conviction’s arrows pierce my heart, before I can let my soul be completely torn apart–God in His grace, steers me back to Him, to wholeness. I tell her yes, we will go outside. She dashes off like lightening.

The insides burn, how can I be so cruel to these little ones–just needing me, just needing freedom, just needing life? Just the other day, we were dancing, now here we are again–going over and over the same miserable lesson–when will I ever learn? Oh, I am not adequate to this task–someone better than me should do this job–that God gave them to me to take care of and to usher into His light–I feel so unworthy.

I feel the weight of my desire, my idol encroaching, crushing, pulling me down to the depths.

Maybe this is the perfect time for a Lenten fast, because I can’t breathe and I can’t escape this driving force to be more, to be good enough, to be better, to be validated, to have higher numbers, to be known and yet, the adrenaline surges and anxiety siezes and I’m scared to death, quaking in my boots to be known.

The dream to be a writer–that has always been there–seems to have come on full force now that I’ve fully entered my thirties–like an angry bull let out of a pen into arena.

That bull, he is really afraid–he doesn’t like being cornered–he doesn’t at all like to feel threatened–it makes him angry and a force to be reckoned with.

And here I am, getting older, and nothing to show for it–and I feel threatened–feel not good enough. And I am a force to be reckoned with–only this bull is not in the arena–he is in the china shop–and my sweet children, they take the hardest blows against their china hearts when Mama forgets to have a servant’s humility pumping through her veins and wants to serve her own balloon-filled-with-helium-desires.

And I wonder, who am I?

What defines me? Being a mediocre writer, a dabbling artist, a not-good-enough-singer {who now only sings in the shower}, runner who comes in nearly last in every race, an almost nursing student, beauty school drop-out, mommy in pajamas with four children hanging about my legs? Is that me?

Which title says I’m good enough? Which do people accept?

Oh, the weight of my human sin. MY sin, and that of no one else. Mine is the one God whispers to me about–when I think on others’ and not mine, it’s someone else whispering. And what I hear God saying, is this sin of mine, how it bogs, how it drags me beneath the drowning, tumultuous currents, without me realizing.

My insecurities–which are really just pride with a mask on–they cause me to run hard and fast after things to fulfill my empty identity. And this idol of mine, my writing, it is exactly that for me.

And God is saying to me, “Daughter, my precious child, look to me. Don’t pay any attention to what others say about you–keep your focus on Me–in Me, you will find all you need, all you desire, all joy and peace and yes, even peace with yourself–because in Me, wrapped up in Me, is the only place you will find your identity.”

I read this on Robin’s site, {hover over words and click to see her post} and it struck me: “He is my best form of identification – He declares my identity and legitimacy when the world is screaming about my lack.”

Thoughts about identity and idols had been circulating in my mind, ever since a late-night talk with Husband and ever since a friend had asked me to write at one of her sites–and this friend is well-known–and this scared me senseless, and at the same time gave me all sorts of {false} hopes for the future–making me a balled mess of fear, rapture, anxiety, frustration, elation and gratefulness with a bit of daunting failure and accomplishment thrown all in at once.

I did not even write back at first–and what deep-seeted fears run so rampant in the dark caverns of me that I would treat this angel of a friend so rudely? I finally wrote and accepted, and tried hard at being gracious. All of this brought me to question: What am I–upside down blogger in an upside down kingdom with humility and aim only to serve and love, or am I  just another hat trying to find a hook on which to hang, hoping to gain numbers, get published and win?

Is this just a place to BE someone? To find a title that says I’m worth something?

Writing has pushed me, jolted me with electric current, said, “Wake up!”, and God has used it to show me my real heart. And the answer that God has wanted me to find–not in my head, but in my heart–is this: my best identification is Christ, as my new friend Robin so cleverly wrote.

“Your true identity is as a child of God. This is the identity you have to accept. Once you have claimed it and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world. “

Henri J. M. Nouwen
Nouwen Centre

“The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace… We must dare to opt consciously for our chosenness and not allow our emotions, feelings, or passions to seduce us into self-rejection.”

Henri J. M. Nouwen
Nouwen Centre

“He has great tranquillity of heart who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men. He will easily be content and pacified, whose conscience is pure. You are not holier if you are praised, nor the more worthless if you are found fault with. What you are, that you are; neither by word can you be made greater than what you are in the sight of God.”

Thomas a Kempis
Biography and Works

And this is how God fills the soul-holes, and repairs the torn away soul pieces that I myself have ripped, and He brings me to wholeness–this is how He fills my empty identity to the brim: He adopted me into His family, He has become my real Father, and has told me that I am His daughter, I am a co-heir with Christ, and I can call Him Abba, Daddy.

So through sickness going ’round this house relentless, and financial confusion, and Lent’s plans alluding me, the big dreams I had for it unfulfilled, I ask myself, how can I best fast for Lent? With Easter quickly approaching, what one way can I truly, with everything I have, honor my Savior?

How can little hearts and big hearts alike best prepare for such a life-abundant event–how can we till the hard ground of our hearts and make soil ready to receive the glorious, beautiful promise of the resurrection power and all He has given, made rightly our’s through His blood sacrifice?

And here is the hard part: for me, it is in withdrawing into Him, into quieter, more still moments of reflection. It is in fasting from the thing I love the most–my writing.

In giving more time to my children, in bending down and inclining my ear to their petitions, their requests, yes, their demands and their teasing laughter–I will be entering into the glory of God.

In allowing myself rest and recuperating from illness, I am leaning on Him, obeying and surrendering to the season He has called forth, and in stepping away from buzzing screens and outside into the marvelous light of His creation, I am bringing Him honor and praise with my time.

My prayer is that in my frailty, He can make something out of nothing in this Lent season.

{Just for a different perspective, I like the way The Message talks about identity in Christ}:

“But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to receive our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now full adopted as his own children because God sent the spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privelege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.”–Galatians 4:3-7; The Message

“I am His by purchase and I am His by conquest; I am His by donation and I am His by election; I am His by covenant and I am His by marriage; I am wholly His; I am peculiarly His; I am universally His; I am eternally His. Once I was a slave but now I am a son; once I was dead but now I am alive; once I was darkness but now I am light in the Lord; once I was a child of wrath, an heir of hell, but now I am an heir of heaven; once I was Satan’s bond-servant but now I am God’s freeman; once I was under the spirit of bondage but now I am under the Spirit of adoption that seals up to me the remission of my sins, the justification of my person and the salvation of my soul.”

Thomas Brooks
Brief Biography

I won’t be gone completely, friends. I will still be counting 1,000 gifts, just giving less time to writing and screens and more to family, prayer, God’s creation…

Some other posts by beautiful, brave women who inspired me to step on out and write on my ponderings…Dolly@Soul Stops, Jennifer Camp @You Are My Girls, Mary Leigh@ BlueCottonMemory, Michelle@ A Surrendered Life, Roseann@ Tuning My Heart, Michelle@ Graceful and Jen@ Finding Heaven
You will be MUCH blessed to visit these ladies’ posts–this, THIS is honesty and beautiful hearts reaching for HIM!

This post shared in community with:

sweet Ann…

whimsical Tracy…

the lovely kd…
and beautiful Jennifer…

40 thoughts on “On An Alluding Lent, Identity In Christ, and Idols”

  1. Oh, your words stir a deep aching in my heart and I feel like I could have written exactly what you did. And I'm grateful that you put words to the uncomfortable realization in my soul, tool. YES, this dream of writing can push me into the Lord's arms are chase me away from life as I seek some kind of “win” as you so honestly said. I, too, have been wondering if the appropriate fast for me this year is simply to put down the words and sit in THE WORD. To see Him more clearly in my children's play and my husband's faithfulness and the spring buds bursting through the dirt in my backyard. Thank you for your courage and your example. You ARE a writer.. one God is using to speak to me today. Blessings to you, dear one.

  2. Oh nacole…this is just wonderful…first, I love your husband's perspective…he has wisdom…I was just talking to my youngest daughter about motherhood…as she watches her oldest sister start on her journey of motherhood…tell the youngest…woman question their usefulness…how do they contribute…to the family(money) society…I believe with all my heart…mom's are the most influential people maybe in the world…we forget…God gave marriage to reflect Him in this world…than He gave family to reflect a greater view of who He is…If we fail in our homes? are we really successful anywhere else…men and women alike…I look at life pretty simply…we are the first ripple…our family…if we build a healthy family…then our children go out into the next ripple and can affect the world with a healthy foundation in Him.and those ripple keep going out…mothering is about small ripples…but we want big splashes. My husband could help heal my woundedness because He was so whole and healthy…that came from his home life…we need to raise whole and healthy kids to be able to bring God's love to the hurting…but some many kids come out of homes…christian homes… so needy themselves.
    wow..I am rambling…I really just wanted to say…please know your mothering is of great value…you are a very gifted writer…let God bring it to you…not grasping to hold on…there are seasons…different people can do different things…some can blog and write without sacrificing to much…but I bet some blog and are sacrificing too much…let God lead…He will not abandon you…He cares about all of you…He loves you…
    This probably should have been an e-mail….love and Hugs and I love your humble heart…a heart that turns when God comes and asks you to go another way…That is pleasing to Him:)

  3. Wow, you and I are so on the same page right now. And I no longer have children at home, clamoring for attention, but other things clamor just the same, and this surprises me no end.

    I've learned before when I get to this state, I need (somehow!) to come to a screeching halt! But that is often a struggle. And I've learned before where my identity lies, what is meant to define me, even wrote a Bible study segment on this, in 1 Peter, but need reminding again and again.

    Prayers for you. And me? I'm turning off computer and heading outside, too, with a bunch of precious verses tucked into a pocket!

    Thank you for this good reminder, encouragement. (And fellowship in frustration?) God bless you and your precious little ballerinas!

  4. You share your heart so beautifully and honestly… I too struggle with the longings of my heart to do the things “I want” and being pulled in so many directions for everyone else… but this is the very selfishness that God is using the struggles and trials to work out of me… after all, I do pray for less of me and more of Him.. and He never turns the children away… to us He says.. come in child-like faith and wonder… all our striving for ambitions of self profit us none… for it is in losing our life, we gain… and when we are brought low, is when He will lift us up… these are the self-sermons that are on reply in my mind…

    Thank you for sharing such an intimate struggle… and I cannot wait to see what God will do with your beautiful offering…

  5. oh, Nacole. How we could sit and weep together. hot tears turned sweet because we have found others who share our struggles. I have JUST spoken out loud that writing is something I want to “do”…then I hang my head. who am I?… a 28 year old mama, I work full time, I'm going to school full time…who do I kid that this could be. I really respect you drawing back to refocus…but I'm not giving up on us some times insecure mamas. For we don't speak words of our own. These passions are breathed from high. I feel it. I know you make an impact on my life. Let my arms find you through the miles.

  6. The grace to articulate what so many hold in their hearts is yours… a work of art. I see and hear God working in you and He is receiving all the glory. Worshipping God with your time…. resting in being found, hidden in Christ alone…. thank you for pointing me to Christ today.

  7. Alicia,

    wow. *thank you*, so much. that you were stirred deep–this is my only hope and prayer for anyone who reads–that they will be stirred and healed and ministered to. i am so, so grateful. blessings, new friend!

  8. Ro,

    thank you SO much, for this encouragement, friend! i needed it today! i just love your little novel you left me–makes me chuckle–the usually so quiet Ro in the blogasphere–and somehow i brought all of this out of you! yes, you have wise words, friend–moms are some of the most influential people in the world, aren't they? i like your ripple analogy. God doesn't mean for me to make big splashes right now–i'm going to take it slow and give it to Him to do with it what He wills. *thank you*, thank you so much for your beautiful words today–i needed them so much. i love you, sweet lady!

  9. yes, Sylvia, i do think we are on the same page right now! we both try and struggle with all of our little hearts! bless us! i get you, i really do–everything you said–right there with you, friend. love the scripture idea. and Sylvia, i'm saying a prayer for you right now. i appreciate the prayers–we keep passing illness around here and my baby is suffering from a bad case of eczema–i'm not able to get her to the dr right now–prayers are *so* appreciated. blessings to you!

  10. sweet Michele,

    yes, friend, these are the things that are going to make us into velveteen mamas, as Ann says, no? sometimes i wish i could just get there NOW, so they and I don't have to go through all of it–but i know this is God's way, His will. if He would ask His Son to do it, then i can pick up the cross and carry it as well, only by His grace, only by His grace. love and blessings!

  11. oh yes, friend, i would sit and cry with you. us moms can be so insecure and so easily forget our true worth, can't we? that i would remember that my worth is wrapped up in Christ–this is all i want! *thank you* for your kind words and hugs through the miles. that i make an impact–i'm speechless. if i wasn't so sick, i think i would have tears right now–but know my heart is shedding a few tears at your beauty and the others that have commented here today. blessings, friend!

  12. Danae!!

    i'm always so happy to see you! you bring light to my day! *thank you* so much for your sweet words. that i could point you to Christ–amazing–and that is all i seek. love to you!

  13. You did a lot of soul searching as you wrote this blog! And it sounds like you worked your way through things as you did. My oldest daughter says, “Life is what happens to you when you're making plans to do something else!”

  14. Esther,

    you are exactly right–that is just the way it happened. writing is something i use to do my soul-searching, allowing God to search me and heal me, as well as being something i enjoy. thanks so much for coming by! blessings!

  15. Oh, just bless you, sweet friend. Life pulls in so many directions…I understand this so well. Rest, dear one. Rest in Him. He knows your dreams and He treasures them also. His timing is perfect. Perfect. Hard as that is, rest in it too.

    So much love to you as you seek Sabbath rest.

  16. here i am, at the end of my day, my night, really, and before i head to the shower, i check out your blog, it catches my eye on my fb page, seeing my mom's “speechless” comment [it's hard to get one of those out of her, i commend you ;)].

    you know who you remind me of? charlotte, from charlotte's web. 🙂 you might seem like a small, insignificant creature in this vast world, and when others look at you – they may wonder what there is of value to see in your small life…. but they don't know of God's grand plan for you, your “life's work,” as charlotte called it; it's the beautiful creation of her many daughters, remember? 🙂 and how they would carry on into unknown corners of the world, because of the investment and the sacrificeof their mother, who would always be remembered as a word-smith, as a wonderous writer. even with the recognition and reward for seeing her writing praised, she considered her babies her greatest work of art. i know you feel the same. and you will always be rembered as such as well. 🙂 i may be corny, but that's what came to mind! 😀 i love you!

  17. forgive my typos… i just spotted several!

    also, you are a beautiful woman, inside and out, a lovely friend, a godly mama, a submitted wife, and a grace-filled child of God. i probably don't say it enough. through your writing and through your friendship, and even through your sabbatical, His grace shines through.

  18. thank you, so much, Laura. this was a pouring out of my soul–i'm so glad you understand. thank you for your kind words. resting today…blessings to you.

  19. April,

    i'm a little speechless, but, *thank you* so much for your sweet words of encouragement. i needed to hear them and they are appreciated. it's not corny–even if it is–it's very endearing. love you!

  20. April, BEEAUTIFUL encouragement, so very very well said. I ditto every word!! She's spot on. And getting “speechless” out of our momma, yes, I commend you as well!! 😀 Haha!! 😉 Got your e-mail just now, eager to reply, I laughed out loud, I wanted to cry, want to hurry and communicate, set your mind at ease. 🙂 “Talk” you soon!!

  21. I am a whole decade(or more) behind you and just understanding this writing call, even though I have written professionally for almost five years now. There is kairos – God's time, and there is the clock that rules much of life. I want to be in kairos. I so understand your heart tugs and proud of you for choosing what is right in front of you. I wrote about this in my post today at Painting Prose. Thanks for linking up.

  22. Dear Nacole,

    Trying again bc for some reason my comment from yesterday didn't go through…anyway,

    Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful reminders of our identity in Christ (love H.Nouwen) and it made me so happy to see you choose time with your precious daughters – what a gift they are from God. I resonated with much of what you wrote as I'm now beginning to open up and discover writing…I have to regularly keep giving it up on the altar back to God. Thank you for encouraging me by knowing that my words encouraged you…To God be the glory. In His Time, He will make all things beautiful, as the song goes…He has His timing for your writing…love and hugs to you!

  23. *laughing* with you, Danae, well, softly chuckling, as i'm too sick to laugh ;). you are just too cute, friend. you and April are both such treasures of friends. how did i ever get to be so blessed?!

  24. oh Shelly, thank you so much for your kind words and for being so vulnerable, sweet friend, and sharing your heart with me. Kairos–God's time–i like that. i really, really like that, Shelly. everyone that knows me well says that i don't operate according to the world's clock, so i really like this idea of your's. that's where i want to be, too. so happy to connect with you! blessings.

  25. Dolly,

    i'm so happy to connect with you, new friend. and thank you for making the effort to come back and write such thoughtful words–it is *so* appreciated. “Regularly keep giving it up on the altar back to God.”–i like that a lot. To God be the glory, yes! love and hugs to you too, Dolly! blessings!

  26. Nacole, clearly we were meant to meet today. I'm certain God asked you to stop by my li'l ol' blog. (Thank you for clicking and commenting). I know God moved through my dear friend Dolly's heart who encouraged me to stop by today as I needed to read what you wrote.
    for God has us on a similar search.
    I wrote today about wanting to be unknown (like the author of the Book of Job). about desperately wanting people to forget my face simply because all they remember is Him. resonating through my words.
    that seems to be worth striving for. . .
    clearly I feel so comfortable here I'm rambling!
    Thank you, Nacole, for stirring my heart. Thank you for showing me I'm not along in this.
    and girl–you had me at H.Nouwen. 🙂

    All for Him,

  27. Wonder-filled Nacole, I love your heart already. Thankfully our Papa God so wants us to know His heart that He is willing to draw us outside to play or show us wonder in the midst of hard. Thank you for using my little quote. I will look forward to knowing you more whenever you write.

    Another daughter,
    A Sojourner's Voice

  28. I have felt what you are feeling…in so many ways. In fact I've written about it just today…but let me say one thing to you..you have accomplished much if you have a child who wants to play with you. Much more than you know. May you find Him everywhere on your hiatus…

  29. Hi Nacole – wow, its as if I was reading my life. You certainly hit the nail on the head of how we feel so unworthy. But to God, who sacrificed His Son for us, we are worth it! Great post. Great writing and I trust by the response you got, you can see, you are far from alone. God bless and thank you for linking up, I'm glad you did and look forward to seeing you there again next week 🙂

  30. Nikki,

    it is *so* nice to meet you! i am so grateful that you stopped by and left such a sweet comment! i am so happy that you feel comfortable–if you were actually here, we would just sit on the front porch swing and talk for a while. yes, i am on a journey as well, to have God's glory be known the only thing i seek–i agree with you so much. and you're welcome, and that last line–that made me laugh out loud! blessings!

  31. beautiful Robin,

    what can i say to that? ahh…you may have stolen my heart…so thankful to connect with you. our Papa God, yes He does want so much for us, to know His heart–oh, thank you for these words, Robin. blessings to you, new friend!

  32. kd,

    i did not expect such kind warmth from all you ladies–i am so filled to the brim with love that i don't know what to do with myself. thank you, *thank you*, Kimberly, for those words–i needed to hear them–thanks for taking the time to say that one thing. love and blessings!

  33. Tracy!

    i am honored to be able to link up for the first time and have you here at my place–thank you! and *thank you* for your sweet words. i will be taking a hiatus–as kd mentioned, but as soon as i feel it is time to kick it into high-gear again {maybe after Easter?}, i will see you at your place! blessings to you, sweet Tracy!

  34. Nacole, this raw-beauty , the always painful unraveling of self, to know more of His glory, leads me to Him, and I am so thankful for your brave words and obedient heart. I am in the car reading your words, and I had to lean over and read your beautiful words to my husband while he is driving. That bull in the china shop–and then in the arena! Wow. You absolutley convict me there. And the Henri Nouwen's quotes on identity are amazing. You are a tremendous blessing. Thank you, new, sweet friend. I get this heart of yours. So clearly.

  35. Jennifer,
    wow. what can i say to that? i was not expecting such warmth and love from all the women as i have received the past couple days–i *thank you*, all these other wonderful women, and God, who must have known i needed it–He is my real Father that way–He tries and tries to get me in His lap–if i would just hold still enough. that you leaned over and read to husband as he was driving that gets a ~smile~ and a ~chuckle~ from me. YOU have been a blessing to me today, Jennifer! love to you, new friend.

  36. oh, thank you, Jennifer, for your sweet words of encouragement. they mean so much to me during this time. God has used you ladies in an amazing way.

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