My Identity

When I first started going to church I was about 12 years old. I have always gone to public school and being a Christian in a public school is not easy. I remember going to church and acting like an angel, but as soon as I would leave, it was as if nothing in my life had changed. One day, I went to church and I heard the pastor talk about hypocrisy. After some time of hearing different variations of this same message, I decided that I did not want to be a hypocrite. In order for me to decide this, I had to first decide that the manner in which I was acting in school had to be the same as how I would act in church. I had to form my identity in Christ.

Let’s talk about Moses and how he had to form his identity in God. Moses was raised in a place filled with violence and the mistreatment of the Israelites – of the Hebrews. Despite this, he decided that he would identify himself as a Hebrew rather than an Egyptian.

Hebrews 11:24-25

24. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25. choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

Why did he decide this? Remember that the Bible tells us that Moses’s mom raised him.

Exodus 2:1-9.

1. Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.

Jewish tradition tells us that Jochebed, Moses’ mom, raised him until he was weaned. Jochebed took advantage of these precious moments and taught him everything she knew about her God. She taught him about the love for the Hebrews and everything that they believed. She did everything possible to be able to teach him about the faith that she and the other Hebrews had in God so that one day he would be able to decide to follow God rather than the false gods that the Egyptians believed in.

I know that not everyone’s mother was like this. I know that my mom would always pray with me when I was younger. She would always try to talk to me about God, but at the end of the day, it was my decision to make whether I wanted to also believe as she did. In this same manner, it was Moses’ decision to make about what he would believe.

His mom could not always be there for him. She could not always be there to let him know if what he was doing was correct in the eyes of God or not.

Acts 7:22:

22. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.

Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. Imagine, he lived in the house of Pharaoh and he learned as one of the Egyptian princes. He had everything – money, power, knowledge. You name it. He had people serving him every hour of every day. All he had to do was say something and his servants would do it. I know that many of us feel as if that’s something that we want for ourselves as well. We want to have all of those riches.

But because his mother taught Moses about the Hebrews and from where he truly came from, he knew that all of those riches weren’t of God. He saw everything that his people had to suffer. He saw the suffering and the mistreatment and he had to make a decision. He had to choose whether he was going to ignore his people’s cries and continue in sin being a prince of Egypt, or if he would identify himself as one of them – as a Hebrew – and try to help them.

Hebrews 11:24-25

24. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25. choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

He chose to suffer instead of having all of those riches. That, my dear brothers and sisters, takes a lot of faith.

I remember when I chose to act in just one manner rather than acting “good” at church but then “bad” or “normal” in other places – I had many difficulties. I used to always think and say bad things. This was something that I had to change. But something that a lot people feel that they need to do is that they feel that they must change their “problems” before going to God and asking for help. That’s not what the Bible teaches us.

Revelation 22:17

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

There are many more examples in the bible that teach us that we are to go to God and then will he help us change those “problems” that we have in our lives. We can’t change our lives without God’s help. I first had to decide to follow Christ before I could decide that I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. And when you truly, with all your heart, decide that you want to follow Christ, he helps you!

When I decided to follow Jesus, he helped me see that what I was doing was not right. He helped me see that I could not have two lives. I could not be “good” in church but then act completely different outside of church. This isn’t being a Christian. When we decide to follow Christ, we are saying that we don’t want the life that we have in this world – we want the eternal life that only God can give. Just going to church won’t make you a Christian. If you stand in a garage, will you begin to think you are a car? Of course not! Therefore simply going to church every weekend will not make you a Christian. Being a Christian is a decision that must completely change your life. Being a Christian is having a relationship with God.

But believing in God does not mean that everything will turn out okay in this life. I think I should say that again because that is something that many people believe – they believe that following God means that life will get better. Believing in God does not mean that everything will turn out okay in this life.

1 Peter 4:3-4 tells us that we will have friends who won’t be able to understand what we are doing. But if we are obedient and sincerely seek God and do what Paul tells us to do in Romans 13:13, God gives us the assurance of an eternal life where there is no violence and there aren’t people fighting and killing and abusing each other.

Romans 13:13-14

13.. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Moses, I believe, understood this. He knew that deciding to identify himself as a Hebrew instead of an Egyptian would cause him many problems. He had the Pharaoh and everyone in his household teaching him about their faith and all of the sacrifices that they would do and give to their false gods. He grew up seeing all of these things and feeling that temptation to also be like them and do what they do, but Moses had a decision to make. He had to decide if he would identify himself as a child of God or as a child of the Pharaoh.

When he decided that he wanted to identify himself as a Hebrew, his life didn’t get better. In fact, it got worse. He saw all that was wrong and in Exodus 2:11-12, we are told that he saw an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrews – one of his brothers – so he killed the Egyptian. I think that he killed him because he still did not fully comprehend God’s will. He only knew what he had seen growing up in Pharaoh’s house – in Pharaoh’s palace. But God will always be with us and help us every step of the way.

Hebrews 11:26-27

He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.

By faith he left Egypt. God is calling us to also do an act of faith. Moses found God face-to-face when he left Egypt. God is calling us to also leave our Egypt – our palaces. Moses first had to leave Egypt to be able to better hear God’s voice. He had to leave his family and his friends. God sometimes calls us to go to the desert of our lives that so we can know what it means to truly follow him.

God took Moses and he was far away from Pharaoh’s family and all of the Egyptians for many years. Moses’ story teaches us that when we follow God, things don’t get better, but they are worth it. He lived for many years afterwards and now everyone today knows the name of Moses – years after he died. God wants us to also live for many years, but sometimes we have to do what is difficult and choose to be more like God – more like Jesus – and less like those of this world.

When I began to act like a Christian in my school, my friends saw the change. They saw that I wasn’t saying bad things anymore and some did not understand. Some stopped talking to me and we stopped being friends, but there were those who wanted to know why and I was able to use that opportunity to speak to them about my new life with Christ. I began to form my own identity in Christ and not in myself. Moses formed his own identity in God and not in himself.

Here’s a quote from C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” that I really enjoyed:

“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle hold, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

So look for Christ, my dear brothers and sisters. Only He can give you everything. Look to Moses as an example. He had practically everything in this world, but he chose to form his identity in God. So I ask you this: in whom will you form your identity?

Until then…


All About Me

Me. Not you. Not what you are going through. Me.

This has been more of a reality in my life lately. Ever since I can remember, all I could ever talk about was myself. My problems, my issues, my goals, my accomplishments…me, me, me.

There will come a time in life when you realize that you actually don’t matter as much to the world as you think you do. People will not remember that one joke you made that one time while you were in that one building talking to that one group of people. They just won’t. Why not? Because they’re too caught up in themselves to care about you. We’re all so worried about ourselves that we can’t even think in such a way that reflects a group as a whole. We are so worried about individuality and forming an identity that makes us unique that we forget that there are others out there like us. We forget that we were meant to be part of a community.

I’m guilty of this. Perhaps more so than most people. I’m the kind of person that really doesn’t give two hoots and a holler about what you think of me, but if you are going to think of me, it better be something that you can’t forget. So of course, my goal was to be as different yet the same as I could be.

I’m the quiet introvert who wants to be an extrovert but gets exhausted just thinking about how many people that would require interacting with. So I would get to know as many people as I could, but made sure none of them really knew each other. That way I wouldn’t have to hang out with all of them at the same time.

You see, here’s a secret about me. I love attention. I love being up front and being able to control a crowd. I love having everyone listen to me and what I have to say. I love having a lot of people know my name and know who I am. Me.

I don’t know if you caught it, but that’s a bit too many “i’s”.

I’ve had to learn a really hard lesson. Now pay attention, because this might be a lesson that you need to learn as well.

Life does not revolve around me. Life does not revolve around you. You and I, us, we are simply part of it. People remember groups more than they remember individuals (unless you’re just a terrible person. We seem to remember the worst people who did the most damage to us). But take note. We remember individuals who did the most damage to us. We were meant to be part of a community.

So what’s the point in all of this? Well, I really like the quote from Christopher McCandless “happiness only real when shared.” This should sum it up for ya. True happiness cannot be found in ourselves alone. True happiness is only experienced when we have people to share those moments with.

I think this is part of the reason why God created animals in pairs and also why he didn’t leave Adam alone. We need each other. We need to stop focusing on how to be unique individuals and start focusing on how to be a unique group of people. Nothing will ever be able to be accomplished if we cannot learn how to live life with others and actually care about them as we care about ourselves.

The lesson I learned wasn’t just about how the world doesn’t revolve around me. I learned that the world, for it to work, needs to revolve around Christ. So here’s the challenge I’ve been facing and challenge you with. Make Christ first in EVERYTHING. Life won’t get easier and things probably won’t get better for you, but it will be so much more worth it.

Until then…

An Unexpected Illness

Too many times we think how nothing could ever touch us; how we can’t get sick or end up in the doctor’s office being told that bad news. Up until last Friday, that was me, too…

I had developed some sort of cold earlier on this month. I ended up getting a fever, losing my voice, and developing a pretty bad cough, but, I soon began to get better. I gained my voice back and for a while it sounded like my cough was actually getting better.

But the cough never went away. It didn’t exactly get better either. I just kept coughing. Then, without any warning, I coughed and it hurt. A lot. This pain was so sudden, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. I figured I had strained myself from all the coughing and had bruised some muscle because of it. But the pain grew worse with each cough. Soon, I was afraid to cough and had to prepare myself mentally for the pain that I would have to endure for the next 10 seconds just so I could cough and get it out of my system.

I didn’t understand it and figured that I had been coughing long enough. I went to see a doctor and the words she told me were somewhat discouraging. As she looked between the chart in her hands and my face, she delivered those words I didn’t expect to hear: “you might have pneumonia.”

Pneumonia. n(y)oo-mone-ya (noun): lung inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infection, in which the air sacs fill with pus and may become solid. Inflammation may affect both lungs ( double pneumonia ), one lung ( single pneumonia ), or only certain lobes ( lobar pneumonia ).

I received the medicine from a nearby pharmacist and immediately felt worse. The following day I woke up and coughed, but something was different. My pain had spread. At first, only my left side near my breast hurt. Now, the pain was felt along the left hand side of my back. Not only had it spread, but it hurt more than ever. Talking hurt. Laughing definitely hurt. Breathing even hurt. I keep joking about death with my friends, but to tell you the truth, I’m afraid.

Not of dying. No. Death would mean the end of suffering and the beginning of everlasting life. It would mean one step closer to seeing my heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ. Why, then, was I afraid?

I’m afraid of having lived in vain. I’m afraid of dying and some type of change in this world that I could have helped with would not get done. I’m afraid that my family will completely lose their faith in God. I’m afraid that I had to live such a hard life and have made it this far just to have it end so suddenly. I’m afraid that this illness will mean that I won’t be able to go anywhere anymore if I do survive it; that I’ll have to live in my mom’s house back in the city and just work a regular job and make money without any other say as to how I want to live my own life.

I know that this won’t be the end of my life. I can feel myself getting better. This illness, however, was making me question my whole life. Not the purpose of me being alive or anything like that. I was questioning what to do with it.

Until then…

The Uncertainty of Life

There’s something wrong when you look forward to the weekend all the time. I understand looking forward to an event that might take place during the weekend, but when you want the weekend to come so that you don’t have to go through your week anymore… Shouldn’t I be loving what I’m doing? I’m a college senior and I absolutely love my field of choice, yet I don’t fully enjoy it.

I never thought I would say this, but I wish I could go back in time. I wish I could start over. Live differently. Be happy. All I can do now is just pick up where I left off – and it’s kind of scary.

I’ve been really good at making a huge mess of my life. I have friends who supposedly “know” me, yet they know nothing about me. Truth is, I’m depressed. I don’t need to see a counselor or a doctor to know it. I feel it. Nothing makes me happy. Nothing.

I’m so apathetic and I try to enjoy life, but it’s so hard for me to do so when all I’ve ever seen my whole life is suffering. Maybe that’s why I enjoy traveling. I enjoy watching others and I wish I was creative enough to be a photographer or a painter or some type of artist and just capture the moments in life that I do enjoy – or rather, that I see others enjoying.

I’ve always been somewhat of a loner. I feel suffocated when around others. Yet there are days when I wish to be around as many people as possible. Pretty bipolar of me, huh?

To be honest, I feel like I just need a break. A break from what exactly? That’s just it… I’m not so sure. Everything, really. I want a break from religion and church, from friends, from family, from life. I’m trying so hard to see the positive things in this so-called life, yet all I can picture is destruction. I feel so selfish when I think that I deserve to be happy. Why should I be happy when there are so many people in this world who aren’t?

I guess this is where my field of study comes into play. I’m a female studying Theology at Andrews University.

Theology. The study of God and his relation to this small, stupid world. Honestly, I love it. I have loved learning about God and about service and the church…but I’m still just as confused as ever. I don’t want to be a pastor or anything. I don’t know what I want to be. I find it so frustrating that I have to choose in just four years…or rather, three months now. I’m still creating my “identity” and choosing what I want to do for the rest of my life is just too much pressure that I really don’t want to deal with.

I know that I love to help people, but I also know that I’m extremely lazy and have my “moody” moments when I just want to be away from everyone and everything. I cringe at the idea of having to go back “home” and live with my mom, but I just can’t see what else I can do… I have no money and private school has put me in so much debt. I hate living just to make money. Money has never been an issue for me. I never cared whether I was rich or poor, but the idea of having a well-paying job to be able to pay off all of these loans is yelling my name out so loudly.

Do I take a job which will pay me well, yet have nothing to do with my field, but will help me save enough money to be able to support myself to be able to make some type of change later on in the future? Or do I just go out into the world and trust that one day I will be out of this debt and try to do some type of change right now?

Even then I’m confused. What change can I do? I’m nobody.

The only thing that keeps me going is that small, faint voice whispering to me that I have to go help. It’s so small that it could be considered insignificant, yet the fact that it’s there is what bothers me sometimes. I don’t even know how to help nor whom to help. I’m just lost and wish life could be a bit simpler than what I’m seeing it to be…

Am I over thinking things? Yes…duh! I’ve been trying to live life just one day at a time, but the pressure of having to choose what I want my future to be like has been too overwhelming…

Maybe one day I’ll know what to with this thing called life. Just not today…

Until then…

So There’s This Guy…

I had been focused on what the world had to offer for a while now. Then, for some reason, I kept hearing people say things like, “He caught my eye!” or “I can’t stop thinking about him!” or “I’ll never love the same!”. It kind of freaked me out really. Me, being my curious self, decided that I wanted to know who this person was! I did everything I could to get to know this person. I asked questions about him, I saw movies about him, I read books about him… Who knew he was so famous!?

Then, for the first time ever, I got to actually meet him! He was everything people said he was and then some! I would catch myself smiling this huge cheesy grin every time that I’d think about him! I began to act differently. At school, people would say that I was “glowing” – glowing! Literally everything I said and thought was about this one guy!

I was able to communicate with him whenever I wanted. Some people became jealous of the relationship that began to sprout between us. I was not only constantly talking about him, but I was constantly talking to him. I told him everything! I told him how I felt and how he made me feel; I told him the things I had done that day and the things I wish I could do. Nothing became hidden between us.

The years passed and our relationship began to slowly fade. You’re probably wondering why on earth I’d ever let any relationship with someone so famous fade. Well, I wasn’t talking to him as often. Not because he didn’t want to – he was always faithful to me. I just felt like there were things I wanted to experience before fully committing myself to him. Selfish, I know! He loved me and I loved him, but I hurt him…deeply.

It started with a thought. What if I were with someone else? There’s nothing wrong in “What if” questions, right? The thought led to a look. I began to notice things around me. Things I had begun to know before I met him but never increased knowledge in because I was always so consumed with this guy that none of it mattered! The look eventually led to a decision and the decision to an action. Before I knew it, I was cheating. Here comes the worst part.

He knew. He knew what I was doing. He knew that I was being unfaithful to him. He knew that I was cheating. Despite knowing, he still remained faithful. He told me he loved me and that he forgave me. He forgave me! I was crushed…

(You probably have this horrible picture of me now, but hear me out! I know I’m not the only one who’s done this.)

I didn’t want to hurt him. Hurting him just ended up hurting me. I did my best to be faithful, but I had already had a taste of what it was like being with others. It became harder and harder to let go of what I had experienced. I kept beating myself up over it. He would tell me that I shouldn’t worry about it. That it happened and is in the past and that he’s erased it from his mind. That just hurt me even more! How could someone love me so much? Me?

I caught myself thinking on the past a lot. I kept thinking about the things I had experienced. Life was better with this guy, why on earth would I want anything else?

But for some reason I began to forget what life was like with this guy. I kept thinking on what life was like when I wasn’t talking to him – when I was with others. Before I knew it, I was cheating again!

So what happened next?

I realized that I was hurting him again. I grew some courage and decided to speak with him. I had thought about how maybe our relationship just was not going to work out. I didn’t deserve him. He was always good to me.

We spoke, well, I spoke. He listened. It was as if he understood completely what I was going through. You’ll never believe what he told me. “Don’t give up on me”. (*heartbreak*). I couldn’t help but burst into tears! He comforted me and told me he forgave me. Forgave me! I just couldn’t understand! Did he truly love me that much – that every single time I’d cheat on him, he’d just forgive me?

Sounds too good to be true, huh? Does someone like this actually exist?

Yes, he does exist. I’m in a relationship with him! Still, after everything I did, he still wants me. He still wants to call me his own. He’s even talked about marriage! Crazy stuff, I know!

I figured I should at least act the way I’d want to act if I were to marry tomorrow! I spoke with him more. We went out on dates more frequently. I smiled more. I laughed more. I loved more. I loved him more.

He taught me how to be patient. He loves taking care of others and taught me how to take care of them as well. He taught me how to love others. You have no idea how much peace and joy is in my heart now!

He’s not like every other guy. He’s different.

Before I ever met him. Before I ever even knew about him…

Something happened…

He was wrongly accused of having committed a crime. The judge didn’t want anything to do with his case and let the prosecutor take things into his own hands. The prosecutor ended up doing some dirty under-the-table kind of business. He got someone to take him to my guy during the night…My guy, the guy I love and who loves me…My guy was killed..

A few questions/comments might be going through your head: “How on earth did this happen before you met him?” or maybe “Are you a crazy person?” WELL! I do admit to being a bit crazy at times, BUT just keep reading. This really did happen! He really did die before I met him! I know it’s crazy, but you have to keep reading to know what happened.

So my guy was killed, yes. But something miraculous happened afterwards. After 3 days of persecution and death, he came back to life.

“Yep, you’re crazy” (what some if not all are thinking by this point). Well, maybe I am, but sane or insane I know for a fact that he came back to life – otherwise I wouldn’t have ever met him!

You see, in reality, this guy knew that one day I was going to meet him and died for me. He died for me. Some of you are wishing you could have someone like him. You can.

He died for you, too. He knew that one day you were going to meet him and fall in love with him and was willing to die for you. All the accusations, all the persecution, all the torture – it was meant for us, but this one person – this guy – he loved me…he loved us so much that he wanted to go through all of that so that one day we wouldn’t have to.

But that’s not it. Him dying would have meant nothing if he hadn’t come back to life. The fact that he came back to life proves that he has defeated death and can provide a new, eternal life for us.

Can you guess who my guy is?

Jesus Christ. My guy is Jesus Christ. He can be your guy, too, if you would but let him.

I know that some are probably wanting to know why, if he rose from the dead, isn’t here with us now. Well, he is. Because of what he did, because he died for us, he is bound to his physical body. He’s in heaven – literally. But he sent us a comforter – his spirit – to be with us and to guide us and to whisper thoughts to us that avoid us from doing bad things.

I’ve had the privilege and the honor of meeting him. I go out on dates with him, which I know can seem a bit weird, but it’s helped me grow closer to him. He’s taught me how to be patient and how to love others. You have no idea how much I have changed since I met him. Best part of all, I’m going to be with him forever. I’m going to marry him. The church is his bride. You, too, can be part of the church and marry him.

I pray that one day I will have the privilege of meeting you in heaven and that we’ll all share in the peace and joy that he has to offer us.

Until then…