KEY TO IDENTITY
*written by Brian*
During the third week of DTS, we listened to and shared testimonies and for a week my heart rode a rollercoaster named Brokenness & Joy. Tears flowed freely in the room and the heaviness was tangible. The only thing that consoled us was the redemptive power of Jesus; may we have empathy with and a love for those that do not know Jesus. Under nearly every person’s facade, was brokenness and a quest for acceptance and affirmation. For many, the wounding started during the formative years by an absent or controlling parent.
As a father I am guilty and convicted. In our Tuesday morning Wild at Heart men’s group, Weston (the youngest participant and only son among fathers present) stated he had been wounded by my preoccupation with career and home projects. Super uncomfortable for me but encouraged that he also said things are getting better. My absence is part of my kids story and has been molding their identities. For me, this trip to Mexico is about new beginnings and stories. Fortunately, by God’s grace, I have some time before the kids leave home to begin redeeming our testimonies.
A guest teacher (Carlos Penning) taught on ‘identity,’ following testimony-week, and the content paired perfectly. He presented three identities often formed in childhood that directly affect our relationship with God.
(1) Orphan. The orphan spirit is rooted in abandonment. It operates from a position of lack, desperation, and rejection. It values independence/autonomy and family intimacy is a foreign concept.
(2) Slave. The slave spirit is rooted in conditional acceptance and performance. The spirit is risk adverse, always grieving, and feels unworthy of family affection. The spirit typically finds identity in behavior and actions not in who an individual is.
(3) Son/Daughter. The spirit of a son or daughter is rooted in intimacy. The spirit feels conviction, ownership, and acceptance. It is familiar with abundance, mercy, and grace.
God declares us sons and daughters (2 Cor 6:18); however, we often feel rejected and unworthy based upon our false identities as orphans and slaves. Without God to fill the void, we make unholy agreements with lies and pursue (but never gain) value, comfort, and acceptance.
Caught-up in ‘noble’ pursuits and raising well-behaved children, my actions have reinforced orphan and slave spirits in my children. My parenting has been motivated partially by fear of raising children that do not value hard work and respect authority….we worship what we fear. One of our children told Jenn recently that they doubted Jesus liked being with them. I recognize the orphan spirit, have felt the pain of captivity, and know from experience it is a lie. I can parent better & there is no way feasible for me to carry a burden of perfection. Jesus is the savior and the healer; I dare not steal His role or glory. However, I do not want to nor can I abdicate my role as a loving father.
During the week of Passover, I became convicted that I must verbalize my short-fallings as a father and humbly point my children to Jesus for their identity. I recognize my priorities have been upside
down and I often insisted on obedience without answering ‘why.’ In the Bible, our Father expresses His love by answering ‘why’ and confirming He is for us. Christ’s example of foot-washing, before the Passover crucifixion, was the perfect opportunity to start a new narrative. I told Karissa, Aiden, and Weston that I love them and acknowledged that I have wounded them; they should not project my short-comings on God. I then proceeded to wash six filthy feet and point them toward Jesus for value and affirmation. He loved them so much that He laid down his heavenly position and earthly life while they are imperfect.
Jesus came to redeem us as sons and daughters not orphans and slaves. I am a ‘type’ of the Father but just as an animal sacrifice cannot take away sin, an earthly father cannot perfect a child’s identity; we need to experience the intimacy of our heavenly Father. I pray that Jesus will experientially confirm my children’s identities as sons and daughters; I am being convicted that we need both to know and to experience God’s affection. I know my children will experience trials and hardships in their lives but may they be spared the heartache of seeking acceptance and affirmation from sources other than God. The hole in our hearts was specifically designed for the key of God and nothing else will unlock our identity and destiny.
Come to The Table
*written by Jenn*
My father didn’t want me. Didn’t invite me to his table with his other children. In fact not only am I not included..… my reality is I am completely rejected and ignored.
The wounds this creates are deep and for so many deadly to their faith. In my prayers I postured myself like a beggar, on my knees on the floor... by my Heavenly Father’s table begging for crumbs. I came before Him desperate, my heart operated out of lack.
Even though I was adopted into a Heavenly family…I wasn’t really wanted. Even though my heart overwhelmingly desired to be there… my place was not at the table.
The Holy Spirit would often draw me to Ephesians 1, but it eluded me. Scripture describes the Father blessing us, choosing us, predestining those who love Him to adoption, lavishing on us His favor, and making known to us His will. Foreign to me because a "father" that blesses me, chooses me, favors me, talks with me about his desires is not something I’ve ever experienced. So it only made sense the way I attempted to approach my Heavenly Father’s throne.
We often hear the way our earthly father acts effects our relationship with our Heavenly Father. I thought I had overcome that to be honest. I knew I was adopted! I was assured I was His daughter and He was my Father. I even excused my desperate posture with stories like the woman who touched Jesus's robe…they seemed to operate out of desperation. I was at His feet as an expression of love, but didn’t embrace His inheritance as my identity.
During lecture on our Identity in Christ, the class was encouraged to take a few minutes to ask the Lord to reveal how we see ourselves, and listen to truth revealed of who we really are in Christ.
As sat on a log in prayer under the dark, cloudy sky, I sensed the Lord revealing I was operating out of this orphan spirit- one of desperation and lack. I thought of how I wouldn’t dare
want Karissa to feel this way in our family. Although adopted, I want her to know we chose her to be part of our family! I want her to laugh and play in a place of feeling beloved, and walk into the kitchen and grab a snack when she’s hungry instead of begging me for crumbs. She has an equal inheritance with Hannah, Weston and Aiden as a Foy! So too my heavenly Father desires me to walk in awareness and abundance of His love and favor! He wants me to feel invited, blessed, even lavished upon!
Sitting on the log in prayer, as I visualized myself rising from my knees and sitting at the table with my sisters and brothers in Christ, the sun rays broke free from a small opening in the dark clouds and I felt the Lord pouring forth His love on me. As I soaked in the warmth from the ray of sunshine, I reveled in my Father truly desiring me to be abundantly living in His love. As fast as the sun appeared, it quickly hid behind the clouds again, and started to rain. Tears of joy as His daughter realized she wasn’t only invited to sit at the Heavenly Family Table, but also desired as I desire my own. 💜