This word has come up quite a lot for me.. and I'm seeing the internal struggle in myself, and those around me, heading into this new season.
A season of business may lie ahead, and you wonder if you will lose parts of yourself, parts that you cherish about your family, parts of your sanity in the midst of the busy.
Or a season of wandering may be ahead, and you wonder if you'll lose your community, your umph, your desires, your passions in the midst of the everyday motions of just getting through.
Regardless the season, regardless the day, regardless the tasks and duties... our identity HAS to remain the same. And when we are desperately seeking it in other things, the things we do, our roles on this earth, we will always feel a tension inside of us.
Let me give you an example from my own life...
5 years ago, God honestly shot down my "dreams" of what I thought my life would look like.
It is no secret that I love Jesus, and my whole life is circled around the things that he has called me to here on this earth.
But what is a secret, or I guess something that I don't shout from the rooftops, is those years of struggle before the Nest, the years of no community for us, the years of turmoil in my heart, the years of wondering if my God, that I believed in.. had forgotten me. The years of wondering who the HECK I was.
7 years ago, I really felt like what I was supposed to do in life was to live overseas, living in a full time missionary organization, called YWAM (Youth with a Mission). I packed my bags, planned on living there and committing for at least 3 years.. and was off....
Except for that minor detail, when (my now husband) Brandon Brown, high school best friend, told me that he was in love with me and wanted to marry me.
Uhm, worst timing in the world. I am moving across the world forever, goodbye.
Fast forward 8 months into being overseas living and stationed in Australia, dating the entire time apart from each other, and feeling the tug to come home.
Here we go, God. Yes I will follow you.
No ambition to be there.
No desire to even live in the states.
Other than knowing I was to marry this crazy guy who kept convincing me to love him (it wasn't that hard).
So Home I came.
And then two months later, we received the life calling.. that changed everything.
Adopting our two teenage boys (gaining full custody) who are also Brandon's half brothers.. has by far been the absolute HARDEST most humbling thing I have ever been a part of.
We were seriously like 12 years old.
(okay we were 22 and 23 (wait.. is that right?!))
In regards to Their privacy, and everyone involved, I don't share much of their story, (it's theirs to tell), but I do share my story through that season of life before the Nest came around.
I went from friends and family thinking I was this awesome missionary (or at least what I told myself.. yuck).
To my entire mission being for two people, who I wasn't even sure I liked.. and they definitely did not like me.
My life went from pretty, tons of fruit, experience, joy, deep friendships, deep meaning of life... to the most seemingly meaningless things I had ever done.
It went from talking to homeless in Africa, living on a hammock on the amazon river (I am not kidding), feeding hungry children of the world, living out of a suitcase, seeing the most amazing sights and wonders of the world...
To living in my hometown, raising two boys.. and I have never been disappointed in myself or learnt more about myself in that season.
One, my desire for an identity outside of Jesus.
Two, my desires for affirmation and approval from others.
Three, my desire for "Normal" even though I had convinced myself I despised "normal"
Four, how utterly, unloving... I naturally am.
For those of you who have biological children... even those of you who have struggled to bond with them, the bond with them/ the love for them.. is literally innate.
For those of you who have adopted/ fostered children you may or may not know what I am talking about.. but the FIGHT to love.. is something that will change you inside and out forever.
You will understand God's adoptive heart for us.
You will understand how ugly your insides truly are.
You will never feel more unmotivated or dry in your life.
And it is a journey.. that is one of the most rewarding things ever.
Not because there is a guarantee of "they grow up, love jesus, love you and are grateful for all you have done for them" uhm.. because if you know our story, you know thats not the case.
But because there is a guarantee & a focus shift that happens when you dedicate everything you do, to the one who has done it FOR YOU. Knowing there may not be anything in return to make you feel #blessed, but doing it anyways.
What does this have to do with identity?
Because if you are in a season, where you are feeling lost, lonely, confused, out of sorts, dried up.
I am taking you back to that original place in this post.
The place where I realized my identity could no longer be in WHAT I DO.. but WHOSE I AM.
I am God's.
I am adopted into his family.
He calls me his own.
He has gifted me with specific talents.
After years of the dry -est ugliest season of my life...
a near death experience, horrific trauma, Post partum depression anxiety, lack of community....
God used those talents, giftings, passions.. to create the nest.
To be honest, I dont think I could have handled this vision, this heart for The Nest & restoring family if it wasn't for these seasons of "the desert" in my life.
A phrase I have repeated a gazillion times from Jen Hatmaker's book "Seven" (obsessed: read it now), is
"as a culture we are so much more obsessed with the feast and not the fast. There is so much beauty in the fast"
Jesus chose to fast before he started his ministry.
I mean.. not just skip a meal and say some awesome prayers.
But legit go in the desert, fast for 40 days and nights, not eat a single thing, submit himself to temptation, loneliness, isolation, cold, heat, sun...
Uhm. Hello humbling.
I don't like to go 4 hours without food, let alone 40 days.
So here I pose the question
While, Jesus is fasting... Satan attacks his identity.
He says "if you are the son of God..."
meaning... did God really say that about you? prove yourself to me? Show me your good works.
My oldest, Bryce said this not to long ago praying over one of our friends in our living room...
"The very first thing that Satan always attacks is your identity"
He did it in the garden of eden: "truly if you eat this fruit you will be like God (because who God made you isn't good enough?)"
He did it in the desert with Jesus: "if you are truly the son of God..."
He definitely does it to us all the time.
and this is why, now more than ever, we have to be firm in who our identity is in.
From the day our kiddos are 3 we are asking them "what do you want to be when you grow up" ... equating that to a profession, a dream. Not "WHO" do you want to be with you grow up.
Nope. A fireman.
It's innate in us to equate our worth to the things we do.
But from the beginning of time, God has been telling us that no matter what we do.. we will never find our identity in any place but him.
He is the only place where we are whole.
He is the only place where "who I am" makes sense.
So my friend, if you are in that season. That waiting season, that dry dry dry season. If you are in the desert, waiting for the test to be over, the sea to part, the promise land.
Take heart, it took the Israelites 40 years to get to the promised land when they were actually in hours of reaching it. (BLESSINGS WHY AM I JUST LIKE THEM).
And the majority of the stories reflected that God WANTS to tell us about are about their journey, their hardships, their FAST.
Because isn't that where the beauty lies anyways?
Where things in us die.
We die to ourselves & our desires.
And new things are born.
As fall comes, you tell me fellow Ohioans. Can new things be born, if old things do not die?
So as you enter into your season of fasting, know that you're not alone. you are not absent from where you are supposed to be.
You are not enough, no ... you are not.
But he is.
And he will show you that during this time.
LOVE YOU SO MUCH
Founder & Executive Director of The Nest