Knowing who you are is so important in healing from anything. Our sense of identity is where we live from. For a long time I didn’t know who I was; my identity was shaped by my wounds, lies I had believed, and labels that weren’t me rather than the reality of my true identity.
I know who I am now. This is where I am from. This is who I am. This is my story.
But first, I’m not who I am without acknowledging who I was.
I was Katie, the broken girl from a broken home.
The weird loner kid who prayed for friends.
The girl who let her weight define her.
The girl who hid behind self-protective ways to avoid being seen and hurt because she was certain people wouldn’t like her if they really knew her.
The hopeless girl who was told she was going to have to live with chronic migraine forever.
The girl who almost thought it would be better to end her own life than continue.
The girl who used binge eating and casual sex as a band-aid to numb the pain and bring temporary comfort.
The girl who was terrified to speak up for herself.
The girl who was angry at God for letting all these things happen.
The girl who spent way too much time partying with self-pity.
The girl who volunteered in children’s ministry and went on mission trips and tried to be a good Christian and check off the boxes so God would love her. It took her a while to realize that God cared about her heart more than her performance or impossible perfection.
The girl who just wanted to be normal.
The girl who started wearing makeup in 5th grade to hide her face because she thought she was ugly.
The girl who didn’t know how to talk about her pain so she pretended like it wasn’t there. Who didn’t want to make others feel awkward or uncomfortable because we don’t know how to accept and sit with pain. The girl who saw so many doctors and tried everything just short of shooting up heroin and still has this 24/7 constant migraine that ebbs and flows so she learned to just shut up and quietly accept it as normal and walk through life feeling like a freak. You have to accept it and function your best because life doesn’t stop for chronic pain, or anything else either.
The girl who lived in defeat and accepted darkness as casual company.
The girl who was crippled by loneliness, who isolated herself and struggled to relate to others.
The girl who was deeply wounded by abuse.
The girl who struggled with shame and kept herself silent with secrecy.
The girl who thought she was a failure.
The girl who let others’ opinions shape her.
The girl with daddy issues.
The girl who believed she was the problem.
The girl who simultaneously believed she was too much and yet never enough.
The girl who put on a happy face and cried herself to sleep at night.
The girl who grew into a young woman with deep, ugly roots of anger and bitterness in her heart.
The girl who tried to be tough and strong but just ended up hard-hearted and miserable.
The girl who thought she was dirty damaged goods.
The girl who was so, so broken. She was a walking shattered mess of a human heart.
The girl who prayed and asked God to make something beautiful out of her broken mess of a life.
And you know what, friends? He did. He met me right there in my brokenness. He met me there and he loved my broken pieces back together and made me whole in Him. He reminded me that he redeemed my life for a reason and that I just needed to trust him and have enough hope to hang on. I didn’t feel anything super spiritual or drastically change my ways but I held onto a glimmer of hope and knew that there was a better way to live.
Our God makes beautiful things out of the dust. I still have my stuff, but He carries me so I don’t have to do it alone.
I can look back and see His faithfulness. He provided for me and has been there with me every step. He helped me get a job at Burger King when I was 16 so I could save money to go away to college and have hope of a better life. Within a week of getting to college he blessed me with a job at McDonald’s, and within 3 months I was promoted to a swing manager so I could have financial stability. For two years I tried to make it on my own with a little help from my parents, but I realized I couldn’t handle everything on my plate. I was miserable, depressed, barely functioning, not doing well in my classes, and had a mental breakdown. Even in that darkness, he provided a church home and authentic community that made me uncomfortable and slowly filled the gaps in my shattered soul. I moved back to my hometown for a year and traded 30 hours a week at McDonald’s and 4 classes a semester at a 4 year university for 20-30 hours a week at Starbucks and a couple classes a semester at a community college so I could actually live somewhat of a life. After realizing that I was crazy to uproot and leave the first real place I’ve called home, a year later I took a semester off and transferred with Starbucks and decided I was going to make it. I moved back home and stayed with some friends and I finally had a new hope in my heart. Shortly after that I got together for a couple beers with a good friend from my college bible study, and within a month I was planning my wedding with him. It happened fast and we probably could’ve taken it slower, but that’s how the story goes and I wouldn’t change a thing.
My past has shaped me but it doesn’t define me. My past and your past probably look a lot different, but I can almost say with certainty that you also probably have some leftover grit in your soul from it that could use the gentle and cleansing touch of Jesus. Don’t let your past or your pain define you. He wants to meet you in your brokenness and show you how to live in the redemption that he so longs for you to experience. I only have a glimpse of my redemption process so far but it’s enough to give me hope that his love fully restores and redeems all things.
I am the tattoo on my wrist that says, “redeemed”.
I am the product of a choice to choose life over abortion pills.
I am a sinner saved by grace who needs Jesus every moment of every day, and I struggle turning to Jesus when I should and I don’t want to sometimes.
I struggle to show up and be present.
I am getting to know Jesus for who He really is.
I am a messy woman who barely has her stuff together most days.
I’m trying to press into love because it heals, so I’m learning how to love others and let myself be loved, too.
I have to throw my energy into the good things or else I will quickly focus on the negative. I can go from neutral to negative Nancy in no time.
I try to be thankful but sometimes I complain.
I use cannabis to help me with chronic physical pain.
I am learning to feel my emotions without letting them consume me, and lead them so they don’t lead me.
I try to be real but hypocrisy creeps in and I find myself struggling with integrity sometimes.
I want so badly to say that I have conquered my demons. The bible says we are more than conquerors, after all. Jesus is supposed to be a Christian crutch that makes life easy, right? Yeah, it doesn’t work like that. It’s a daily battle.
I can sing and have joy because I have seen healing in the darkest places of my soul and in broken situations and relationships.
I have reminders of my past accidental mistakes, deliberate sins, and everything in between.
I’m finding healing in unlikely places, like playing on the swings or watching a funny show with my husband.
I’m an accidental hippie.
I am freed from my shackles of shame.
I am a warrior.
I am learning to redefine success.
I have hope that whatever is wrong with my body will be healed.
I want to be bold and courageous but I chicken out sometimes.
I am a recovering approval addict. I struggle with not caring about what other people think, even though I know God approves of me so I don’t need to waste precious time and energy trying to find it in others.
I struggle to believe what I can’t see.
I struggle with wanting control over things that are out of my control.
I can’t post to social media without criticizing away every creative caption I can think of.
I can’t keep up with and not compare the picture-perfect Instagram feeds to my inner blooper reel.
I want to be a good wife and homemaker but most days I feel like I’m not very good at either: dirty dishes and laundry more than clean ones, etc.
I am learning how to handle conflict and communication better in relationships.
I try to be a good friend but I don’t connect with my friends and family nearly as often as I’d like.
I’m learning that God cares about the big things, the little things, and everything in between.
I have to use my time and energy like currency every day: I only have so much.
I choose to focus on the process and progress over perfection, and I am a work in progress.
I try to manage my emotions because I realized the correlation between intense emotional times and my pain level.
I choose to place my faith in God who is loving and kind and good even when I struggle to feel all that all the time.
I was made to be set free.
I like to do gentle yoga, dance around my apartment like a fool sometimes, and get outside when I can.
I struggle to not pick up the chains that Christ has freed me from.
I am the 1 sheep that He left the 99 for.
I cuss a little bit because I used to have a sailor’s mouth.
I love the sunshine even though my body doesn’t handle heat very well.
I am set free from paralyzing insecurity but my natural tendency is to still shell up sometimes.
I’m a little quirky.
I serve at my church because I willingly want to, not as a way to check off the box and get an A for my performance as a Christian.
I hate feeling stuck so I like to approach problems from different angles.
I am healing from the inside out every day and am determined to flourish and thrive no matter what.
I’m a cat lady and an animal lover.
I try to read my bible every day but realistically it doesn’t happen.
I take care of some goats so they’re basically my kids.
I am my dad’s giant German nose and my mom’s beautiful blue-green eyes.
I have anxious and depressive thoughts that I try to challenge with truth.
I break down and cry at least once a week and I’ve just come to accept that without shame.
I don’t do small talk very well.
I can be real and transparent because of the cross that killed my shame.
I’m an advocate for plant-based eating and holistic healing.
I’m stuck between wanting to explain myself so that I’m not misunderstood, but also realizing that I don’t have to explain myself. Not everyone will get me and that’s okay. I won’t get everyone else either.
I am thankful for my situation because it made me who I am today.
I choose to trust God with my mustard-size seed of faith.
I need to be reminded of simple truths sometimes.
I am who I am today only by the grace of God.
I love getting my hands dirty in the garden and watching things grow.
I’m like a plant. I need the basics: nutrients, water, oxygen, some sun, movement to build strength, and tender love and care. Sometimes things need to be pruned off so energy goes towards new life, and sometimes roots need to be completely dug out and amended with some serious soul love.
I trust in the cleansing blood of Christ to redeem all that is lost and broken.
I can declare his praise and goodness and healing power even when it doesn’t show up like how my tiny little human mind thinks it should look like in my life.
I am the daughter of a King.
I am loved.
I am clean.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I am accepted.
I am enough.
I am made whole.
I am forgiven.
I would have saved myself so much damage if I had lived in the true reality of my identity sooner. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or what’s been done to you. Jesus died to redeem it all. Every person and every situation. He isn’t waiting for us to be cleaned up first, He meets us where we are and starts the restoration process right there. Sometimes it’s painful because refining hurts. Sometimes it’s gentle because He knows we can only handle so much. He created a beautiful mosaic out of my broken pieces. I wouldn’t have chosen some of them but they played a crucial part in making me who I am today.
Friend, I hope you know who you are. You are loved. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are enough. You are more than what you do, what you have, or how others measure you. You are so much more. Go see your Creator and see what He says about you.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you, I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
“The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.” – Isaiah 51:3
*bottom photo credit to Villiados photography and Pinterest (: