I glanced around at the objects and items strewn on my temporary desk, grabbed my room key, and headed down to the main building. Feeling a little insecure and sick to my stomach, but determined to keep that hidden from the people around me, I walked with a stride of capability and confidence. Day One of LifeCast would be my time to shine, so I decided, but now in gratitude I see that God had other plans for me.
From the first hour at LifeCast, I quickly realized that if I wanted to grow in the Lord that week, I would need to let my walls down. From the humorous get-to-know-you games to the very last lesson we taught together, the students of LifeCast and I all bonded over our need to open up. As we became more and more authentic, we allowed community and support to bring us closer and to point us to Jesus. Together and individually, we began to explore who we are in Christ.
Leading up to LifeCast, I had been evaluating who I am and what I am worth to God based on my works. Was I saying the right things? Was I looking and acting like a Christian? Was I being asked to serve or being given the right opportunities to prove to God, to others, to myself, that I am a loved daughter of God? I kept trying to prove God’s grace and love by works, not by receiving and living in His love. What I knew in my head was that I had to receive first to be an outpouring, but in my heart I was still trying to work, to do things on my own. I could tell my works were never enough, and I knew they wouldn’t be. I soldiered on, though, because that’s what I guessed any good Christian girl would do.
Early in LifeCast, I was getting feedback with a friend and an intern about a lesson my friend and I had just taught. After running through her feedback points, the intern asked my friend and me, “How are you both doing, spiritually?” My friend and I, a little awestruck, glanced at each other and then back at her. It felt like a loaded question…. But it helped me see the load I was carrying. After a moment of hesitant silence, I said, “Well, I guess I’ve been kind of hiding from God lately.” I started to talk about what I had been carrying, baggage of trying to work for God’s approval and running from His love. I was able to start unpacking my perceived identity.
As the week continued, all God kept reminding me of was that I am loved, that I am given community, and that He already knows me intimately; He just wants me to let myself be known and loved. Who I am is not what I try to work into myself. Who I am in Christ is not a worker trying to earn favor. Who I am in Christ is a daughter of God. I am beloved. I am called to Jesus’ love for me. I am not counted unworthy because of mistakes, but am called to a life doused in grace and growing in the righteousness Jesus has given me. Righteousness and love are not things we earn. They are what we learn, day by day, going deeper and deeper into Jesus’ love. Since the first day we each meet Jesus, we are resurrected to life, His life, eternal life, and that can never be taken away from us. Knowing that, I see again that I don’t receive love because of anything I do, but because of everything Jesus did for me: “As for you, you were dead in transgressions and sins… but because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions… For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…not by works so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:1, 4, 8, 9 NIV).
Before LifeCast, I wanted to work for God. After LifeCast, I still do. That desire to work, however, is no longer fueled by the feeling of insufficiency. It is fueled by God’s love and by knowing my identity in Christ. I am not condemned, cast off, or forgotten. I am loved, I am called near, and I am a child of God. LifeCast was a beautiful place for me to release the lies I have been believing and to allow Jesus’ truth to sink into my heart and to be filled with His love. Jesus loves us so much, and His love is professed at the cross. Nothing will ever speak against His final word. I am loved.
Leaving LifeCast was hard. It was sad to say goodbye to the new friends and new community, and it was sad to see that there wasn’t another lesson to learn in the “Identity in Christ” handbook. But as I packed my bags again to go, I placed the “Identity in Christ” booklet in my car with a smile. Wherever I go, I know who I am in Christ Jesus, and I’m excited to get to tell others who they are, too.