Saturday, April 28, 2007

Who you are without the Fanfare

What did hard times teach Kurt Wagner about his identity? What have hard times taught you about your genuine identity?

In his hard times, he found his identity in Christ and realized everything he had was a gift from God. In my hard times, I’ve found that God is always there for me and that I try to strive to be more like him when all the pieces of my life have fallen around me. During these hard times, I look at the mistakes that I made by trusting too much in myself and putting others before God in my life. It is during these hard times, that I recommit my life to Christ and he pulls me out of my life’s pits.

Which has taught you more about yourself: times of ease, or times of difficulty? Why?

I’ve definitely learned more about myself in times of difficulties because I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone and had to start all over. I am a person who lives in fear of trying new things because of fear of failure and fear of my haunting past. This past year I learned more about myself than I ever had because I had to move to a new place and start all over. Just when I thought I had my life all marked out, it was totally shaken and redirected. I still am unsure what my future holds, but I know this whole experience has really taught me to listen to God and ask him for wisdom and direction. I know that I can not do my life on my own.

Think of one particularly difficult time in your life. What did you learn about yourself by going through it?

I guess the most obvious difficult time in my life is the ending of my marriage. I’ve never felt more alone than I did that year. The worst part is that a year before we were married God had warned me to make my relationship right or end it, and I chose to ignore him. After I got married, I was very lonely and then the gambling started. I’ll never understand why it happened, but I also know that I could have prevented a lot of pain if I had listening to the many warnings that God put out in front of me. Words can not describe the amount of pain and despair that I went through. I think about the nights that I cried for hours because I felt totally rejected. I can’t imagine what Jesus must have gone through when everyone rejected him. Fear of rejection has held me back from many opportunities. I think because of what I went through I will be more willing to try new things because I have learned that I’m not alone. God will always be with me and he will help me get through the difficult times. To live a life out of fear and to dwell on past regrets is not living life at all.

What does the presence and makeup of your community—friends, family members, and coworkers—reveal about you? Why are other people so important to figuring out who you really are?

I’ve found that because of what I went though I’m a more genuine person and at the same time much more selective on who I let close to me. It has become much more important to me to surround myself with other Christians. Although I know that it is important to reach out to non believers, I do believe that the people who are closest to us should share the same values and beliefs. As a Christian I need to surround ourselves with other believers so that I can get the necessary encouragement and accountability that I need to stay focused in this world and close to God.

Friday, April 27, 2007

What Does True identity look like?

What words does Paul use to describe our authentic identity? How do those words compare to what we hear from friends?

Paul uses the words flat and plain. As a Christian we should be humble like Jesus Christ. Even though his father made the whole universe and every single creation in it, he came to us willing to serve others. These days we don’t hear much about being humble, instead we are encouraged to stand out and shine anywhere we go. I’ve never had a friend tell me I need to be flat and plain, no, they would never say that. Instead they would encourage me to show the world what a strong girl I am and to be independent.

In what ways would you describe yourself as raised bread? In what ways would you describe yourself as flat bread?

Raised Bread: My everyday life….. I don’t look to God for a lot of answers or directions. I pretty much put all the ingredients together myself and then mix and it usually turns out as a disaster. When things seem to be going good, I don’t think I give God the appropriate credit or thanksgiving that he deserves.

Flat Bread: When I am immersed in the word daily and really spend time praying, I can see changes in my life and attitude. During these times my attitude changes from all about me to how I can help others. Throughout these periods I spend less time obsessing over my appearance on the outside and more time on getting my insides looking good.

What kind of yeast have you allowed into your own life?
Sexual sin, alcohol, obsessing over self appearance, worry and doubt, wasteful spending, not thything, bitterness, jealousy, gossip

What does it take to become the “flat bread” Paul describes? How can you do this? Do you even want to?

To become the flat bread you must die to yourself. It has to become a daily decision of whether you are going to let Christ live through you or are you going to live for yourself. It must be an all or none approach. God is not happy or excited about giving part of your heart to him. I believe I have fallen into this category for most of my life. I want to do what is right, but I still want to “have fun and have a life.” I have learned that I will do just about anything to make friends or have friends. Even if it means going back on promises that I made to God. My whole life can be summed up by Romans 7: 16-19:

The law is good, then. The trouble is not with the law but with me, because I am sold into slaver, with sin as my master. I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things. I know that I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it.

My goal for this study is to find my true identity in Christ. I’m so sick of only serving him half heartedly. God does not promise peace and joy, which is what I’m searching for, to those who only serve him with a piece of their heart. No, God wants my whole heart. He wants me to stop worrying about being alone and start trusting in him, communicating with him, praising him, and worshiping him. Through my life I’ve learned that every earthly person will let me down. I know from reading the bible and listening in church that God will always be there for me, but the question is will I be there for him. I’m going to have to admit that I have done little as far as fulfilling God’s service in my life. I want God to take control of my life because I have failed miserably on my own. I’m finally ready to completely surrender to him.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Uncovering your true self

Introduction of myself to others:
My name is Sarah. I am a personal trainer. I love to help people change their bodies and their self esteem. Family is very important to me. I have six sisters and two brothers and have been blessed with amazing Christian parents. Even though I’ve had some hills in my life, God has always helped me and welcomed me home with open arms. My two dogs are also very important to me. They can make me smile even on the worst days.

How would I describe myself:
Things I want people to know:
I am a unique mix of a girly girl and tomboy in one. I love pretty dress, beautiful flowers, pedicures and shopping, but also love playing sports with the boys and working out hard in the gym. I love to laugh and usually can find silly things other people or myself of done to laugh at. Even though I can be a bit scatter brained at times, I can be driven and passionate about what I do. I am a hard worker. Since I’m not great at planning and making decisions, I’m very spontaneous and usually up for any new adventure that I don’t have to come up with myself.

Things I don’t want people to know:
I am painfully shy even though I can sometimes put on a good show. Self doubt is something I live with pretty much every moment of the day. I don’t feel smart at all. I even wonder how I made it through school knowing so little. I have major body image problems that often lead to eating disorders. I’ve never been in a successful relationship, and I’m beginning to realize that I’m probably the problem. I’m always searching for that one thing or one person that is going to make me happy or at least give me some sense of purpose in my life. I disappoint myself and others around me because of selfish decisions that I make. I can be selfish and self centered even though I try to pretend that I’m not (do seem to be getting better though). I love attention and need it to feel better about myself. When I drink alcohol I become a totally different person and usually say or do things that I regret.

If you could choose a stereotype for yourself, which one would you choose? Why? What do you think this says about you?
I think of any stereo type I wish I could be one of those “Daddy’s Girls.” They just seem to have everything they ever wanted or needed and much more. They are given the best educations and are encouraged and pushed their whole life to make something of themselves even though in most cases they don’t need to make a living for themselves. I think this probably says that I’m a little shallow and that I want everything handed to me; however that is not what I see. I’ve learned that this world is not an easy place to make it in. I struggle with bills and low self esteem. I get stuck in jobs because I don’t think that I can do better and don’t even know how to start a new career. I just wish that life could be a little easier sometimes and for it seems for these girls everything usually just falls right into place.

To what degree do you think stereotypes are true? To what degree do they uncover a person’s identity? To what degree do they hide a person’s identity?
Although I claim to be open-minded, I do find myself prejudging people and automatically thinking that I know what they are like just by looking at them. I think there are some truths to certain stereotypes; however I do think that they are widely overused. I don’t think that stereotypes really can uncover a person’s identity; instead they tend to hide it. I remember growing up, I felt really embarrassed because my heritage was so mixed that when people asked what I was I didn’t even know how to respond. I felt inferior to people that knew where and who they came from. I remember wishing that I was at least one thing so that I could have a response when people asked me. Now I realize how foolish this was. I would have just hid behind an identity that I knew nothing about and would have been happy because I had an answer to other people’s random questions.

Do you think that the issue of identity is significant? Do you agree with “we are each on a lifelong journey to find out who we really are”? Why or why not?
Yes, I think it’s very important. When you don’t feel like you have an identity, you feel like you have no value or worth. I often times struggle with this. I believe that the reason I don’t have many friends is that I don’t feel like I have an identity of my own. I’m happy to do what ever other people want. Then I don’t want to have to come up with my own plans or interests and it makes it easy on me. I’m sure this can get old for people that hang around me. Are we on a life long journey? Yeah, I’m just hoping it doesn’t take my whole life for me to stop trying to please others and learn about my own desires and self.

“Examination of conscience is a lost art”
In today’s feel good generation we have very little morals to go by. It has become increasingly easier to lie to oneself about intentions and desires of the heart that we would have once known were bad and now and talk ourselves into thinking they are okay or good. If you talk to anyone about your problems, no one will tell you that you are doing wrong or give you biblical advice. In fact they often encourage you to do what ever makes you happy instead of what ever the right thing may be. We forgive ourselves too easy for our past mistakes and this causes us to keep on making them because we hardly have any lasting consequences. Anyone that thinks they know you will tell you straight up what a good person you are and sometimes you start believing it when deep down you know that you’re not.