Since I became a Christian in 2006, I have labored under the delusion that I would have to sacrifice all of my identity in order to be a proper disciple. And it has made me miserable.
Recently I reached a breaking point. I decided that it’s time to slow down and recognize that I am unhappy and that some things need to change. I cannot go on denying primary parts of myself. Maybe my present misery is meant to save me from some long-term grief, but I’ll only know if I stop here to examine the implications of my present condition. (Plus, if you are going to change the direction of your life, then it is undoubtedly easier to do so when you are young and unattached.)
During the past two years, I have made a good faith effort to be open to the plans that God has for me. I have tried to sacrifice all control over my life and leave my future up to God’s determination. But now I think that God wants me to use my control-freak nature to do work for the Kingdom. I have tried to remain faithful to His guidance and direction. I realized tonight, though, that in my attempt to be flexible and completely open to the direction that God has planned for me, I have negated two of my greatest God-given talents: making plans and executing them.
I had been under the impression that planning and taking control of your life was a big “no” in the Christian church. I thought that God was all about having His people call my people, and He would do all of the scheduling for the rest of my life. Now I’m not so sure. If I give up all of my identity, every little bit, down to the very last control-freakish thought, then I also sacrifice a part of my self that God intends to use for good in this world.
God is the one who formed me after all. He made me a planner and a list-maker and stubborn as a goat when I’m in pursuit of these goals that I make for myself. Those qualities have scared me since I became a Christian. Everyone told me I had to give that up in order to make myself open to the direction of God. I thought I was supposed to give up all control and just go with the flow.
I have been afraid I would make plans of my own and then be stubborn and unchanging to the will of God. But I’m not scared anymore. I realized tonight plans and lists and time lines and goals are not my enemy, not when they are prayerfully considered and reflect the will of God in my own life.
My next step will be to sit down and develop a time line and a list of goals for my future. I’m going to reflect on my life and figure out things that God would have me strive for (concrete things!), so I can make plans and adhere to them. More importantly, I’m going to start reclaiming parts of my identity I had abandoned after my baptism. Things that are central to my identity, the things that make me who I am–things that God can use for good in this world. It’s time to reclaim my identity. It’s time to reclaim my self and give it back to God.
This is going to be a good year.