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Wednesday in the Word | Identity Crisis, Social Anxiety, Opening Up

Hello everyone~ Today, I read through Luke 9, and I was particularly struck by 23-27, "Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus" (ESV) . NIV groups these verses as part of "Jesus Predicts His Death".

I really like the ESV title, because this makes this entire reading about how Jesus is telling the believers that they, too, will have to experience worldly death in order to receive life. It separates this part from Jesus telling everyone that He will suffer and die and resurrect, which I personally feel is nice, because it reminds us that Jesus has done His part: He sacrificed Himself and was resurrected. Now in response, we are to follow His example.

However, in NIV, it really puts into perspective that all actions of true disciples should emulate and reflect the way that Jesus DIED, and experienced the wrath and consequences of all sin should have been meant for us, as said in v. 22, "The Son of Man must suffer many things... and he must be killed on the third day to be raised from life".

Ultimately, I feel that our Christian walks must be a combination of these two: it is both a response to Christ, as well as a continuation of Christ's Gospel message. I think the verse that really ties everything together is verse 25: “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

It really struck me because it reminded me: what is my bottom line? What is it that makes Sharon- Sharon? Is my identity found in things other than in Christ? I am still reflecting more on that – what does it mean to have my identity found in Christ, and am I being faithful to that identity? Or am I selling out bit by bit to sin and idols, without realizing it? I've been in a state where I feel like my identity is being stripped away - I can't work, I can't really exercise, I can't stay up and write in my blog as I'd like, I can barely finish my schoolwork. It drives me nuts that I can't be in control of my body these days.

I had a heart to heart conversation with a friend yesterday about how I don’t always open up vulnerably enough – not dishonest, but not fully honest, either. Just yesterday, I actually ended up having to go to the ER, because I had a really bad coughing fit and couldn't breathe I usually don't update my friends right away on things like these, but for some reason (divine intervention, I'm sure), I decided to text my best friend, Mischa. I told her that I had a bad coughing fit and had trouble breathing, so I was going to drive to the ER. She took off of work and drove me there instead of letting me drive myself. I hated myself in that moment for burdening her and making her miss a day of work to take me to the ER, but honestly, it's probably safer for everyone on the road that she did.

While waiting for my turn, a church sister reached out because she had heard that I was in the ER. I felt embarrassed, and yet very comforted that someone cares enough to reach out and ask. I think this just was a reminder that there is no fear in love – no fear in God – to be honesty bare before brothers and sisters in Christ (spiritually and emotionally, not physically of course!), because that is a part of who we are.

Maybe you guys haven't really experienced me being too afraid of sharing through this blog, but to be transparent with you, it's a lot easier for me to share here. It's easier for people who know me to read this and pretend they never did, should they not feel called to respond or pray. But if I reached out and updated them in person, then I am afraid of feeling like I'm burdening them with the responsibility to take action. I know I touched on this in my previous post, and the friend I was speaking to actually mentioned that he didn't feel like my mindset was quite correct in terms of being afraid of being a burden. And I agree! I want to make the disclaimer and clarify: I don't believe that all the feelings that I share are "spiritually correct", but it's part of the struggle as being human. I share because I know I cannot be the only one with a similar thought and emotional process. Our emotions are very real and valid, but I also want to mention that they're of the flesh. It's not Biblical to hide our feelings, and there's nowhere that Jesus has ever preached that our burdens are to be hidden out of shame. It's Biblical to lament and mull over and share our struggles - Jesus shares his agony in anticipation to His crucifixion, even though he knows no one will understand. He never kept his emotions a secret! And not even in just a spiritual standpoint, even from a psychological standpoint, it's probably not "right" to feel like sharing our struggles is a burdening to others. It doesn't invalidate our feelings, but it does reveal to us different ways that sin and idolatry slips into our lives. And that is something I'm working on, continually. As an introvert, it is something that is honestly very hard, because it's so much easier for me to just shut out the world and forget fellowship.

To be honest, I'm still trying to reflect on if it is an issue of self worth: that I'm unworthy of being served, or an issue of fearing judgement of man: that I am somehow less capable as a human for needing help... or perhaps a mix of both. Either way, sin makes us ashamed of our identity and our testimony, but to understand what Christ has done is to remember that there is no shame in recognizing the sin and struggles in our lives, and to be able to put it at the foot of the cross and bear the burden together, as the body of Christ. In our weakness, God is strong; through our weaknesses, God’s testimony speaks, and is glorified.

Wow, it's been a couple of weeks since my last post in this series, and I've honestly really missed this. I love being able share my devotionals with you and continue to reflect as I post. It's really an ongoing conversation, not simply between God and I, but a conversation between all of us. I hope you have all been doing well! Please share with me your prayer requests as I shamelessly solicit yours through this blog ;)

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