Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Confession: I've Changed.

Have you changed lately? Are you a different person than you were a year ago? Three? Five?


If you ran into a long lost friend, or fell out of touch with someone for a few months - would they notice that you are different?


I would hope so.


Some of us fear change simply because of the uncertain. Some of us fear change in others because it leaves our relationship undefined. And we all fear change because it reminds us that we are not in control.


I've been accused of changing a lot in my life. This past year included. Guilty as charged.


5 years ago, I would have called myself a sinner.*


2 years ago, my views on sex would not have let me be close friends with the woman I am today.


A year ago, I was scrambling to understand who I was, for the second time.**


And even in the last 6 months, I have become radically different.


Yes. I have changed.


Do you know what I love about Jesus? This. "Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon, the son of John. You will be called Peter.' " (John 1:42)


In one fell swoop, Jesus looks at a man, acknowledges his father, his family, his past - and says, "I know who you are. I KNOW. And I will call you otherwise."


Not, "you have some problems, let's talk about them." Not, "follow me, and eventually you'll be further away from your past." Not, "tell me about yourself." And not, "let's get rid of the bad and keep what looks good."


Jesus says, "I know you. I know everything. I know where you come from, and who you are. None of it matters to me. THIS is who you were created to be, and THIS is what you will be called in the new family that I am creating."


Done, and done.


When you decide to follow Jesus, you are faced with a very inconvenient truth. That you are brand new, and that your reality will never again be the same.


That everything you thought you knew must now be re-filtered through God's perception, not yours.


It is a loaded truth. It is a truth that implies your sins, your faults, your past are dead and gone. A truth that says this world matters no longer, and that our eyes are "to be focused not on the seen but on the unseen." It is a truth that implies the old is DEAD and the new is NOW. It is a truth that forces you over and over again to decide which is more important to you: the kingdom you've lived in your entire life, or the kingdom of heaven.


It is an active truth. It requires fighting. It requires ripping open the scarred flesh so that the surgeon can remove the debris.


Becoming a new creation in Christ is not a fancy way of saying that the sins in your pretty little heart are now invisible to God because you said The Prayer. Becoming a new creation in Christ means that Jesus knew who you were, and has said No. This stops here. You are mine, this is your name, and this is how you fit perfectly into a family that you can't even see yet.


Being given a new name in Christ does not mean that when you get to heaven you will be assigned a bedroom with Mildred Winnie Anne on the plaque above your vanity. (Although this could be true, God does have a sense of humor.) It means that every morning you wake up you must re-commit to accepting the name that Jesus has given you, and refuse the depression, the pain, the accusations, the never-enough, the selfishness, the materialism, the loneliness, the addiction, the sadness, and the failure that every other broken person has sold to you.


I have a hard time with this.


Just as Paul had a thorn in his flesh, I have mine, and you have yours. Or we have a few of them.


Many days, I want to be the Lauren who can't quite hear God clearly. I want to be the Lauren that's depressed because her biological family isn't coming to her wedding on Saturday. I want to be the girl that's really shy that grew up without any friends and struggles to relate to women. I want to be the girl that makes everyone around her happy and at peace. I want to be the Lauren who goes back to re-read Systematic Theology every 5 years so that I can have a tiny chance of winning over my dad with my flawless hermeneutics.


But that is not the name that Jesus has given me.


Jesus has told me that just as a sheep knows the voice of his shepherd, I DO know the voice of my Father. (John 10:2) I have been given family all across the world who actively loves & encourages me daily, because "whoever does My will is my mother, and brother, and sisters." (Matt 12:50) I have been called Bold and Victorious One, because Jesus has promised to carry out to completion the good work that was begun in me. (Phil 1:6) In my mission to preach the scandalous life that Jesus offers, I bear the same sword that He does. (Matthew 10:34) Jesus has called me Simple, because "you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." (Matt 11:25)


Jesus was not a watered-down sort of man. Never did he come to make you better, he came to make you brand new. Never did he show up with painkillers, he came to heal.


You are not somewhere between dead and alive. You are alive.


"He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him, all are alive." (Luke 20:38)


Change does not come easily. Life does not come easily.


The people in your life that identify only with your old self will be confused, unsettled, offended or no longer know how to relate to you. But the people who have a glimpse of the self Jesus created you to be will cheer you on, be excited with you, and encourage you in your race to change and be changed.


And that last group of people? THAT is family. The family that will be ever growing - as you continue to seek them out and as God continues to bring them to you exactly when you need them. And when they need you.


You will change.


It's okay to change. It's okay to become more like Jesus and less like you.


It's okay to stand up for your change. Losing things is okay.


I will celebrate your change with you.


I will celebrate the new name Jesus has given you.


How have you changed? Tell me.


Our new names are glorious things.


_ _ _ _


* Recovering legalist, folks. Infinitely envious of what other women possessed but terrified to seek it out, and utterly convinced I would never emanate or live out freedom. Jesus gave it to me.


**Finally addressing a lifelong identity crisis & inferiority complex with being a woman. Coming to terms with Jesus creating me as a woman for a purpose & finally understanding that I have great value (not less) because of my gender.

23 comments:

Just me said...

I love this - fantastic post!!

Nicole said...

I have changed to be open enough to let God say "I want you to write" and to hear it and not be frightened as hell. Changed enough that I will be fulfilling my lifelong dream of a poor gal finally getting a degree in a year's time. Changed by the very words you write because I say to myself "Oh to write like that" and because I know that I can.

jaybird7 said...

Lauren...

I love your honesty.

I love how you write about how you let Jesus 'get' you instead of 'you getting' Jesus.

I love how you articulate that Jesus didn't come to merely make bad people good; he came to make dead people alive.

I love how you get that what gets in the way of our love for God more than our unrighteous badness is our self-righteous goodness.

Congratulations on your wedding. My parents just celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary. Granted, I wasn't around for their ceremony but I can tell you the celebration certainly continues.

May it be so for you and Max after 60 years as well.

Grace and peace,
Dave

frankenstein said...

we're all changing a lot. we all embrace change. lydia is in alaska, i'm moving to uganda. to think that only those who embrace every choice are family is flawed thinking. i'm glad you're on an adventure, i'm glad you're changing, that doesn't unsettle me at all.

RonaldJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RonaldJ said...

Congratulations! I e-mailed your future mother in law a GF pizza crust recipe a while back. If she doesn't have it still & you're interested, I can dig it out and pass it direct to you.

Along with glutenfreegirl, check out gingerlemongirl.blogspot.com. She has lots of GF, Dairy free, etc. recipes and lots of other links.

Soli Deo Gloria,
RonaldJ

Kelsey said...

This couldn't be more on time. I have changed so much in just a few months. I am a completely different person. I now love God and think about Him every single day. I have changed I am loving it. Following Christ is the best thing I've done. I do notice how people respond to me now, I often can't keep up with conversations with my friends when they get "distracted" with stupid things. I have to hold my tongue sometimes when they say ridiculous things. This past week I had to let go of one my friends of four years. I am too different from her and would not tolerate how she treated me any longer. Though I'm sad and angry about it sometimes, I KNOW that Christ did this for a reason. For an excellent reason. I know He's making room for something better.

Hayley said...

Oh Lauren! You put into words things that I have grasped at articulating.

So often I talk of the cards I was dealt. They are cards that in a textbook are cases sure to lead to one wacky girl. These things have the ability to wrap me up in present fears. I wake up grasping to these old things that I was defined by forgetting the adoption that took place to make me new. changed. alive. free. Those cards were taken from my deck when His Spirit entered me.

Tears came to my eyes, when you wrote here about the people that tie us to our old self. This is precisely the problem-- we can't live into our new identity freely if we are doing it fearfully or with our own agenda. We are changed. period. Wether or not they see it or we always see it. WE HAVE FAMILY, as you pointed out so well, that will remind us of our identity and encourage us in it. Even on a blog, this is the BODY OF CHRIST.

Christina said...

Your writing is so piercing! I am vastly different from just two years ago, it's quite comical.
He is my reason now.
And life makes sense.
Thank you for your transparency. I love reading your stuff.

andrea said...

i love this. thank you.

Heather said...

You've said so perfectly things I've felt lately. I've changed SO much. I went from the self-righteous older brother to the prodigal, all in a year's time. I went from legalism to relationship all in a year's time. It's a complete change in my thinking and my way of living. I'm learning to trust Him now, because the words he spoke in my deepest, darkest hole proved true (and when he spoke them I believed there was no possible way). But, yet again, he's proven NOTHING is too hard for the God of the universe, the lover of our souls.

What This Girl Learns said...

I love this post!

I am finally feeling strong enough to start attempting the things I am supposed to do with my life.

I can finally look back at old relationships and see that they weren't right for me.

I have changed.

suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter} said...

amen. whenever i hear the mumford & sons line that "i'll know my name as it's called again," i always think of the passage in isaiah, that she will be called hephzibah--my delight is in her. that's my identity now, to hell with the lies.

great grace and blessing on your marriage:)

kelly summers said...

I am so insanely proud of you. I thought you were amazing from the first day we met, but now.. geez, 4 years, 5 years later? It's incredible how God has moved in your life. You are a walking testimony to how God can use people who have been in less-than-desirable circumstances for His glory always. No matter what I've seen you go through, no matter what you've lost or gained, I always see you adjusting and repositioning yourself to turn your face to Him.

Sometimes I feel like my own change is too slow. I was "saved" (hate that term) in high school and this is where I am now? It just doesn't seem good enough. But I know and am reminded that the point is to listen to Him and allow Him to change me, not try to fit into the box I think He wants me in.
And when I think about it, I have been changing lately. He has given me an opportunity to be still more often, to take time just to read and pray and hear from Him and be with Him and it has done so much for my heart the past couple weeks. I'm so looking forward to what else He is planning for me.

Jen said...

I began following you on tumblr in late 2009, and it has been breathtaking and wonderful to watch you painfully grow into the person you are now. Thank you for the reminder that growth is (or should be) constant, and many blessings to you as you start yet another new chapter in your life.

elizabeth said...

Wow! It's amazing how God can speak to you through other people.. even someones blog. Change has been a reccuring theme in my life recently. Recently, I just returned from Africa, and I have been dealing with many changes, mostly in my heart and my head. I didn't expect to come home to a different heart. I have been learning to become more like Jesus.. its a struggle, but its completely worth it. I love that you are so open in this post. Its refreshing, and inspiring. Blessings on your future marriage!

Tammy said...

You blew me away with this post. So powerful! Change is becoming more like Christ and less like ourselves. Those are words of wisdom and truth. Thank you for your openness.

Caitlin said...

Dear Lauren,

What a beautiful post and a bold reminder to timid souls. We are not the old, we are continually becoming the new in a scandalous display of God's grace. It's a glorious thing.

Julie said...

Just found your blog and I'm changed already. Weird how connections are made at just the right time, I have been on the brink of the same sort of utter meltdown that happened to you a few years ago. I have just been so sick of living up to my own outrageous expectations. & since these expectations include making it seem like no big deal, nobody sympathizes with my burnout because I don't really have to work at it, do I? I think with the help of people who have gone before, I can avoid catastrophe and still break this cycle of deadening in my being.
Thank you. Congratulations on your wedding today!

Ashley said...

Lauren - I just found your blog and love your insights! I have been thinking about change a lot, too. I used to be terrified of change (and if I'm honest I still am a little), but I've come to realize what you have written here is true - without change there is no growth and if I am not changing, then how I can testify as to what God is doing in my life? Congratulations on your wedding and thanks for sharing your life and profound thoughts on this journey as Christians!

Georgi said...

Lauren - oh,how much I've changed recently! A middle-aged mom with three kids, and yet I've come to realize that I don't necessarily believe certain things anymore. I do not have all the answers, and I regret having taught my kids certain things because of it. But you know what? It's OK, because God is big enough to handle my doubts. And He's big enough to fix mistakes I may have made with my kids. In fact, it's opened up great conversations with them. In fact, God seems way bigger now. I would have thought that being unsure of certain things would make me less sure of God, but in reality, the opposite has happened. Anyway, just wanted to share that, and tell you that I've so enjoyed reading about your journey through this life. And of course, I want to say congrats on your wedding! Many blessings.

AmiObz said...

Love, love....

That is how I end everything that I write....
I am only just getting into writing my own blogs, for years I have written in books.. hard copy's, never letting any one see that side of me...

Lauren, you will never know how much you are changing my life ... I wish there was someway I could say thank you, meet you in person and try and explain how much you and your words are setting me free, free from this life that I do not know how I got to and returning me to a life of God and that which he originally wanted for me.

With all the love and blessings I can give you, from here in Australia - Thank you for your words, of encouragement and strength ...

Love, Love xox

havemyword said...

Just like when Jacob wrestled with the angel in the dead of the night - relentlessly. He walked away with a new name, a new identity, a new blessing. We have to be willing to be alone with God, be honest with God, be broken by God so He can, in return, bless us in His time. God's hand on our lives is the catalyst for change - we have to let it rest there.

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