FINDING OUR HEALED IDENTITY IN GOD

Alex Averi

Article by Alex Averi, Women’s Apostolic Alliance member

The Gospel of Matthew, in chapter 9, tells us about the woman who suffered from a bleeding illness and, in the midst of a jostling crowd, grabbed onto the tassel of Jesus’ robe, in the faith that He would heal her if she could just touch Him.

Verse 22 says, “Jesus turned and SAW her”. That doesn’t mean that He merely noticed her, or that He singled her out as the person tugging on his robe. In SEEING her, He looked right inside her and deeply knew her.

Many years ago, on my own journey towards emotional healing in God, I had written, in response to that verse:

“Our cry – MY cry – is to be SEEN for who I really am, not just for what I can do or be for someone in the moment. There’s a ME in here that hurts and is lonely and is damaged, and that needs to find its place in the light, and flower, and be transformed. THIS is the Jesus who SEES me, and who touches me at the centrality of my need and of my essence. He doesn’t just catch sight of me, He SEES in and through me, and KNOWS me in the seeing.”

This is also how God showed himself to Hagar (Abraham’s slave girl, who conceived Ishmael and then ran away after Sarah treated her harshly). In Genesis 16:11-14 (Complete Jewish Bible): “The angel of ADONAI said to her, ‘Look, you are pregnant, and you will give birth to a son. You are to call him Yishma’el (Ishmael, “God pays attention”) because ADONAI has paid attention to your misery … So she named ADONAI who had spoken with her El Ro’i (God of seeing), because she said, ‘Have I really seen the One who sees me [and stayed alive]?’ This is why the well has been called Beer- Lachai-Ro’i (‘well of the one who lives and sees’).”

As human beings, our deepest question is, “Who am I?”

We all have a back-story – we’ve all had “stuff” happen to us. And what we have been through defines us, and what other people think of us, by affecting our life choices, paths and circumstances. But God RE-DEFINES us. He doesn’t negate our past, but He REDEEMS it. For every skill that I can do reasonably well, there are thousands of other people out there who can do that thing better than I can. But, each of us is a unique “package” of skills, gifts and personality, and none of those people can be exactly who I am, or fit where I fit. I would therefore be wasting my time and emotional energy to look for self-worth through my performance of specific skills. What I need to do is be the best “ME” that I can be. My healed identity rests on what God thinks of me, not on what others think.

Genesis 3:7 tells us that after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, “they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” We might define fig leaves as things like money, status, position, celebrity, good looks – things that we tend to clutch to ourselves to shore up our sense of identity. But, my healed identity does not rest in the affirmation, validation or good opinion of other people – it rests in being loved by God.

Here are some scriptures on what we SHOULD be clothing ourselves with, instead of “fig leaves”:

Isaiah 61: 10: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the GARMENTS OF SALVATION, He has covered me with the ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have PUT ON CHRIST” (NIV: have CLOTHED YOURSELVES with Christ)

WHAT IS OUR IDENTITY IN GOD?

Brennan Manning, in his book Abba’s Child, quotes Christian thinker Thomas Merton:

“‘Who am I?’ asked Merton, and he responded ‘I am one loved by Christ’. This is the foundation of the true self. The indispensable condition for developing and maintaining the awareness of our belovedness is time alone with God …Our longing to know who we really are – which is the source of all our discontent – will never be satisfied until we confront and accept our solitude… Our identity rests in God’s relentless tenderness for us revealed in Jesus Christ.”

So, I can only be who I am, and do the best that I can do. My identity rests on what God thinks: did I trust Him and live in His strength – did I run into my Abba’s arms? Like John at the Last Supper, did I rest my head against His chest and feel the Rabbi’s heartbeat?

There’s a false self/identity (Brennan Manning calls it the “imposter”), that lies to us, telling us that we are no good. It is a false identity that craves acceptance and approval. From Abba’s Child: “But prayer is death to every identity that does not come from God. The art of gentleness towards ourselves leads to being gentle with others – and is a natural prerequisite for our presence to God in prayer … When we accept the truth of what we really are and surrender it to Jesus Christ, we are enveloped in peace, whether or not we feel ourselves to be at peace.” We need to “make the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.”

We have to learn to let God love us first, before we can live in love.

So, know that YOU are beloved of God. If you have come to Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Redeemer in repentance and faith, then you are a child of Abba. You are unconditionally loved by Him, and your identity (your sense of who “I am”) is hidden in Him (YWWH, the Most Holy God, the King of Kings – the great “I AM”).

Alex Averi

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