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WHY Identity is important to Understand in the midst of a Pandemic…

  1. Why is identity important?

When the world goes through a pandemic that affects the economy, the culture and family life, our whole inner world will shake and in the shaking, our external validations of how we achieve approval and success may be shaken. Inherently at the heart of every human being the question arises: Am I GOOD ENOUGH?

Am I really good enough when I am faced with challenges that I have never had to face before?

Understanding your identity and the value you have, is essential to answering this question.

See, who I AM is NOT inherent upon what I DO.

I could lie here all day, every day and I would still be ME. I could completely self-isolate, distance myself physically and emotionally from any other human being and not stay connected in any way, shape or form… but if someone came along and shot me dead, they would still be accountable for murder. EVEN IF, I didn’t have one person come to my funeral, or grieve my loss– just because I have inherent value as a human being, the person that killed me would be held responsible for the crime of taking away my life- because I am valuable.

Why am I valuable? I am valuable and I have an identity because I was made by a Creator God who designed me so thoughtfully, that my very existence on this planet warrants my worth.

My ABILITIES and how I use them, on the other hand, are my RESPONSE to the environment into which I am placed. They are my responsibilities.

So imagine that in one of the hands I am holding up is your identity and in the other hand are your responsibilities 🙂

My ability to learn, to play, to relate, to observe, to listen, to create, to explore, to develop, to risk, to love, to believe- these are all hinged upon the choices I make in response to the opportunities around me. Whether or not I use my abilities for the benefit of others, the betterment of myself or the detriment of either one, is up to me. I have been given free will and I really get to decide the outcome of my own destiny.

Life is all about choices. It is estimated that we make, on average, 35,000 choices a day. Each choice has a consequence and each consequence has an affect on layers of platforms.

The problem comes when our decisions start to attach themselves to our identity. It’s so easy for our lives to be consumed by the things that have value in the society in which we live. For some societies, that’s education, for others it’s external beauty and fashion and trends, for others it’s social status or castes, for others it’s marital status, some offspring, others careers, material accumulation, real estate portfolio, stock market investments, emotional intelligence… the list could go on.

Whatever our society, or community or even close family place value on, often gets embedded into the idealism of what value we place on ourselves.

We think, if I have enough money, then I’m good enough. If I have an hour glass figure, I’m good enough. If I have the nicest car or the highest level of education, or the best marriage or the dream career, then I. Am. Good. Enough.

But all of these things are additions. When you were made as you and born into the world, your Creator made a statement.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good..”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:27, 31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God didn’t say anything was very good up until that point. Every day He had spoken something new into existence but when He completes the process with a woman, He emphasises how good it all is. It’s good enough for Him to sit back and rest. He didn’t go on the next day trying to adapt or perfect what He had created the day before, so we have to assume it was good enough. And if it was good enough for God, it- humanity- YOU are Good Enough!

In that whole process, God created seasons and in different seasons of life, knowing your identity is about knowing that you are still the same. And the you that makes you you, is the you that God loves. His love for you is not conditional on what you do. The problem with attaching our identity to the things we do, is that in every season of life, we are often called to do different things. Different seasons demand different settings. Like the settings on your phone which are interchangeable for whatever environment you are in (flight mode or silent mode, having wifi on when you can pick it up or using data when you’re out and about), so are the settings in our life interchangeable as our environment changes.

Different seasons in life also affect the way we make choices. We can make choices as a child that would be so different to how we made them as an adult. There are a myriad of things that contribute to the way in which we make our choices. From family of origin dysfunction to hormonal changes, to sleep deprivation to dietary intake to mental wellness or social pressure or financial situation or spiritual misconceptions or deceptions… all of these external factors can play a major role in the choices we make- that’s why it’s so important to distinguish your identity- your being, from your choices- your doing.

In the next session I’ll talk about some of the consequences of meshing these two together.

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The Principle of Weaning

“I feel like I’m being weaned!” were the words that spilt out of my mouth like water from a waterfall.

Almost like that time I cried myself to sleep and went into my daughters room in the middle of the night to find her in a leg cramp that had her reeling in pain. I pressed her foot upward toward her shin while she fought against the pain and defaulted to a point position. While I was trying to encourage her that I knew what I was doing the words “JUST> TRUST> ME!” spilt out of my mouth- as if the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart through my own mouth in a night of confusion and despair.

Here I was again, speaking words that were more a message to get my attention from an Supernatural place. I started entertaining the thought that there was something more significant going on than just an initiating of a business in the birthplace of my re-entry back into the Western hospitality industry.

Feeling like I was being weaned, came about because my first job for my new business was situated in the very kitchen I had started serving two years earlier as a volunteer- the 7th of March 2017. It was a volunteer position that would eventually lead the way to the job that I had left to start my business. That date was significant yet it was not by choice but by “chance” (that someone happened to be having a bridal shower that day) that I ended up there two years later, self-employed with no guarantee of future income. Just a step out on a nudge that this was the right direction to go.

Weaning meant that I was still able to sit in the familiar, while trying to navigate the new. I was surrounded by people who made this transition safe and spaces that would accomodate my desire to know something by experience. It was all there for me, yet it was still a step away from where I was.

Have you ever felt like you were being weaned? Or like a season of transition was taking far longer than you anticipated?

I looked back over all my major life experiences and realised that there were plenty of examples where transitional periods took two years. From the time I met my children’s father to the time we were married was exactly two years. The time I stepped into a Baptist Church to the time I got up and walked at the invitation to know Jesus as my Saviour was two years. Same period of time filled the gap between the time I stepped into a Pentecostal church and attended their Baptism of the Spirit night. More recently, it was two years from the time we arrived in Sydney to stay with my mum that she decided she would move away to New Zealand- a lot more prematurely than I had expected but somehow in sync with this new revelation.

I asked the Lord what the significance was and He reminded me that two years was the period of time a Hebrew mother would nurse her infant before they were weaned. Once the child had been attached to the breast for that period, the weaning would introduce them to real food so that by the time they were three or four, they could stand on their own. This was a celebrated occasion as the child would pass the most crucial phase of their formation.

Breastfeeding mothers can all attest to the fact that weaning is not an easy process. Unless your baby is introduced to a bottle from an early stage of their development, pulling them away from the skin of their mother and replacing that with a plastic device, a cup or spoon, requires persistence and a strong resolve! There’s something about the familiarity of a mother’s breast that fastens that baby to the soothing source of nourishment and comfort. Who would want to leave that kind of provision?!

Photo by willsantt on Pexels.com

Many mothers give up – delaying the process for years- exposing their breasts to the world as their toddler starts demanding milk on tap at any given time of day and at any location. They give up the temporary pain of hearing their child cry for the long term agony of having a child dependant on their body.

But weaning is necessary for the growth and development of any child. It’s also an important discipline for the mother as she establishes a life long pattern of letting the boundary lines between her and her baby grow further and further apart. Children develop into adults and adults need to understand the value of responsibility and honour.

In life, we go through certain stages within the seasons of our existence, where infancy comes back into play. Infancy defined as the early stage of growth or development of something. Whether it is starting a new job, going to a new country, getting into a new relationship, or starting a new business. Each new thing that comes into your life, will often feel overwhelming and create within you a sense of anxiety as you feel the pulling away of the way it used to be. The effects of change and transition can have you feeling edgy, (not knowing what the future holds) anxious and feeling disengaged. But all of these feelings are a natural consequence of weaning.

The Psalmist in this passage seemed to have mastered this transitional phase- perhaps his state of contentment in the present and the small tasks of daily life had something to do with it…

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.
Psalm 131:1-2

Contentment is a state of mind that often leaves us singing the Psalm of David, The Lord is my Shepherd, I LACK NOTHING. Clinging to a form of outward supply, can overwhelm our hearts to a point where we lack the awareness of our Inner supply. But once we have been weaned off the external suppliers, we can solemnly say, we lack nothing. There is a breaking away from our dependance on knowing, on concerning ourselves with things that are too big for our human minds to comprehend, and an aligning of souls with the One who knows our inmost being.

I have been going through this journey over the last year of being weaned off outward suppliers…suppliers of emotional and psychological support, financial income, spiritual scaffolding, but in the process have learnt to have this inner calm and a quietened spirit. I have learnt to be content with what I have, and that wasn’t always easy and it definitely wasn’t natural. It was a spiritual awakening that took incremental steps to evoke within me this sense of completeness.

It came to a point where I had to get down on my face in my bedroom and confess my discontentment and understand my place in Him. That in Him, all that I have within me is enough.

I am enough.

So I can be content.

He holds me now.

And with that, I can grow at another level.

Be warned, you will be weaned, but you’re going to be okay. The fact that you are leaving the old, means that you are stronger now. You are in another zone, achieving new heights of being and creating new levels on which your life can exist upon. Remember- What you have within you, is all you ever need. xx

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Wholeness is a Choice

And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked.”
‭‭John‬ ‭5:9‬ ‭KJV‬‬

He had been an “invalid” for thirty-eight years, this man. Sitting by the pool of Bethesda, waiting for someone to help him into the miracle stirring waters, he met a man named Jesus.

Jesus has pity on him knowing that he had been there for years and He asked him a question I believe He asks all of us at some point in our lives… “Do you WANT to be made well?” Or in the KJV it says something akin to “will you be made whole?”

See, being whole and healed is a choice. We can have the best excuses as to why we don’t need healing, why we’re not qualified to receive wholeness or why we are satisfied living a broken life for another season; but none of them will get us in the water.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

This man found out he didn’t even need the water. He just needed Jesus. Jesus can change us in a moment if we let Him. But in order to take in His living streams of healing, we need to step out of the mainstream way of thinking.

As holistic beings, we need to be ready to make sacrifices for holistic healing. Denying yourself of the comfort zone you live in will ultimately free you to be in a zone that’s laced with grace. Grace for your weakness, grace for your ignorance, grace for the changes that are so unfamiliar to you that you feel like an alien in your own skin.

But be encouraged.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:28-31‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This tiresome work of pursuing wholeness and healing, is not a journey you have to go at alone. It’s not a place that you’re left at in order to fend for yourself.

It’s actually a beautiful space where you can discover the renewing strength of an Almighty God. It’s an opportunity to be aligned with His power- because when you run out of your own, you’ll find yourself running into His. He has a greater knowing of who you are becoming and He will fight with you to make sure you get there.

So choose wholeness. Choose healing. And choose to keep moving forward even when you don’t feel like it.

In Jesus name.

Let’s pray.

Dear Jesus, thank you that you see us by the water. Thank you that you stop and ask us if we want to be made well. Today I choose to be made whole and to do the hard work it takes to be healed. Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. In Jesus name, Amen.

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When Life Gets too Hot to Handle..

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness,”
‭‭Malachi‬ ‭3:2-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A wood fire burning to cook food in Ethiopia. Photo Cred: Samira Messner

During my first summer in Sydney, Australia, I remember feeling like I was literally going through a fire. The heat was so hot that I felt like I could hardly breathe. My body was telling me to go back to Ethiopia where the sun shines but cold winds always blow. Yet, My spirit was telling me to stay in Sydney and so an internal fire was ignited too.

Internally and externally, I felt like I was going through a fire. It didn’t feel good. It was so uncomfortable and it brought ugly parts of my heart to the surface of my mind.

God is kind. We always have to remember that when we feel like we’re going through a fire. In His kind love for us He wants us to be better people. He wants to restore us back to His original intent for us by burning away the aspects of our character that weren’t meant to be a part of us in the first place. Those aspects that continually bring us pain and hurt our relationships; those aspects that came as a result of hurt that we have been through or misguided judgments that have never been addressed before. He knows what’s best for us and in His kindness, He draws the best out of us.

But in order for the best to come to the surface, the dirt and grime from our past needs to escape first. These usually manifest in the fire and we might be the only ones who see it, but if it’s ugly enough, it will make even us feel like we need to escape the heat of being confronted by our weaknesses.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You know what? Your weakness is an opportunity for Christ’s power to be displayed. He’s not ashamed of your weakness so you don’t need to be either.

You aren’t expected to be perfect- we all have flaws. And as He highlights areas of your life that you need to work on, He will help you work on it- that’s how His power is displayed. He doesn’t bring it to the surface to block you from your destiny, He brings it to the surface so it doesn’t.

Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel;”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭25:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He skins away the dross in your life so that you can be a better vessel of His. Remember-You’re His vessel and the vessel is in safe hands when it’s in the hands of a King. Trust His wisdom as you go through the fire with Him.

Let’s pray

Heavenly Father, thank you that you have a plan and a purpose for my life. I thank you that you know who I need to be in order to fulfill that plan and purpose. Help me as I go through this fire to trust you and to persevere. Teach me daily how to let go of the parts of me that don’t bring you glory. And may You be glorified in the process, in Jesus name I pray. Amen

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If you only knew!

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If you only knew
How much God has in store for you. How much He wants to do through you- despite your broken heart; despite your messy past and your mishaps and failures and what nots.

Before you were even born, God had a plan for your life. It wasn’t conditional on you being “good.” He’s not Santa, making a list and checking it twice- trying to find out who’s naughty and nice. He promises to deliver on His promises anyway!!

God is always working where we do not see. He’s always doing something on your behalf to set you up for something great. When He says He will do something, be assured that He will do it.

Your own dreams and aspirations to do something good and noble, something prosperous and positive, something beneficial to the community or just to your family- He was a part of putting those desires in you. And when He puts an idea in your head, He will guide you into making it become a reality.

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He is the best dream giver. The best dreams you have- when they’re not about selfish ambition or causing harm to others, they’re His dreams for you.

When you’re exceptionally good at something- that thing that you find easy but all your friends marvel at your ability to do it- that’s His grace on your life to do it. It’s a part of you fulfilling your dream. It came in the package called You and it’s a gift to the world.

If you only knew. What a gift to the world you are. Don’t keep that gift unwrapped under the Christmas tree anymore. Don’t let the package of your life be all that people get to see. Let them see the good thing that God has put in YOU and only you to do in this world.

Me, ten years ago, as a 30 year old, stepping out into the great unknown and making the dream I had as 6 year old of mine a reality. That trip changed my life forever

Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us. Charles Spurgeon.

Don’t let yourself or your insecurity get in the way of what God wants to take you into in this next season. He’s been working on putting all the things in place for you to be successful at it since you gave your heart to Him, if not, before.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.””
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬


Let’s pray.

Dear Jesus, thank you that you gave me life and new life in you. Thank you that you have a plan for me to do good things on this earth in the short time I get to live here. Please show me your will for my life and give me the courage I need to go forward in it. You’re the great I am. Help me like Moses, to do what you have called me to do- to step out in faith and obedience and know that many many people will live better lives because you have used me to set them free. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.