On Tuesday mornings I have the privilege of walking through life with a group of spiritually hungry teens. We meet week to week to talk about different aspects of faith and Christian life (and to eat cheapo biscuits!). This week the student chosen topic was romantic relationships. I could already sense the brokenness this group had experienced in their young lives as they opened up about the peaks and pits of romantic relationships.
Since my marriage fell apart, God has given me a passion to see healthy relationships in the Church, and I’m no fool…I was in their shoes once. I sought to fill the broken places in my life with failed relationship after failed relationship, building in me a chemical dependency on acceptance and intimacy all of which cultivated the snowballing nature of shame.
Almost immediately I knew our round table discussion wouldn’t be about dating, but something much deeper. There was more to be said; a foundation to be built. One of stone, not the quicksand of self-centered, self-serving, and destine to fail relationships.
So the lesson shifted. What kind of wisdom would the spirit provide in the short 45 minute window I had with these students this week?
The same message He had for me.
Longing and Identity
I wrote a couple of months ago about longing. It was a hard conversation I had with Tim, but the benefits have been so worth it. Since that talk the Lord has been incredibly gracious to provide conversations with others about their struggles with longing. Through a lot of those conversations and conviction of my own, He opened my eyes to the deeper issue that surrounds longing.
That would be identity.
Our longings confirm our identity.
If I gave you the dictionary definition of identity, it would look a little like this:the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.
We long for the next stage of life because our identity isn’t satisfied with where we are currently, and without an identity the desire for more will never be satisfied.
When we have a deep yearning desire that doesn’t seem to silence itself, including and most certainly not limited to the desire to be in a relationship, we have to begin to carefully evaluate the desire with who are in Christ.
God gave us ambitions, dreams, and yearning desires. These in of themselves are not bad or evil things. They are blessings from God, but much like many other blessing from God, the Enemy has bent them. The core issue I believe goes deeper into our psyche and heart than we typically admit. When we a dissatisfied and our yearnings reflect that dissatisfaction, we are relying on what has been bent. Our identity is seeking to be fulfilled in the flesh. But for us who have been reborn, the desires of the flesh must be put to death as we put on the desires of the Spirit.
The battle is eternal. Our desires will be bent. We will only want to look out for ourselves. That is where we need to find God. Take your longing to God. Find Him in the core of it. Let Him restore your identity. Only then will our longings be fulfilled. Only then will we see trees of life spring forth from our longings.
If longings confirm our identity and identity is the fact of being of who you are, then the truth lies in this:
The fact of being of who you are as a redeemed follower of Jesus is CHILD OF GOD.
Our longings and identity have been captured by the enemy to makes us desire things that God didn’t naturally intend for us to desire. Money is a good thing but greed is not. Sex is a good thing but within the confines of a marital relationship. Relationships are a good thing, but only when we seek clarity over intimacy, and Identity is a good thing but only when it is rooted in Christ.
As a follower of Jesus, your longings will be satisfied when your identity is rooted in Christ. They may change, but true satisfaction comes from the Son.
With that said, because of the fallen nature of Man, relationships will always be messy on this side of Heaven.
We will experience heartbreak,
and unrequited love.
But there’s something special about knowing who you are as a child of the King that speaks deep into that brokenness. There is something special about finding God in your longings. There is somethings mysterious about your identity being re-created by Him.
Then triumphantly, we can hold up our banner of Salvation and sing aloud: It is no longer I who live…but Christ who lives within me.
To be honest, this is a real struggle for me. Identity has never been easy, which is why I’m writing about it. As I begin to let Christ re-orient my identity in Him, and as I navigate post divorce life as an upper twenty something, the words of Christ ring deep in my heart…
But seek ye first the kingdom of God,
and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.
In light of longing, identity, heartache, and redemption, speak though the brokenness. Speak through the longing. Speak into our hearts until our identities are in line with your desire for our lives. Give us the vision to seek you first, then the rest will come.