I’m back! It’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged and part of the reason is that I have been taking some distance learning courses with CCEF as well as starting a part-time job. Now I have taken a break in the distance learning, having completed the first certificate, and am beginning to get used to the rhythm of my job.
I want to share here one of the papers I wrote for one of my courses – a response paper to the book ‘Relationships: a Mess Worth Making’ by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane.
‘When I live out of a biblical sense of who I am (identity) and rest in who God is (worship), I will be able to build a healthy relationship with you.’ (‘Relationships – a Mess Worth Making’ p.57.)
Many of our relationship problems come out of our forgetting our identity – who we are in Christ. In II Peter 1 Peter tells us that God’s ‘divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness’ – and yet we can become ‘ineffective and unproductive’ when we forget that we have ‘been cleansed from his past sins’. This is why we need the daily grace of personal ministry.
When I forget who I am in Christ, I look for my identity in other things – and that effects the way I relate to other people. This can happen in apparently insignificant ways in those microcosms of seconds which Lane and Tripp talk about. For example, the other day my husband walked into the room where I had been working on the computer. He wanted to share his day with me, to communicate with me. Was I happy? No! I was annoyed at what I perceived as his insensitivity to the importance of what I was doing and his readiness to interrupt it just so that I could listen to him! I was telling myself that I deserved him to respect me and what I was doing and that his interruption was an indication of a lack of that respect which I deserved! I responded curtly and he could tell I was annoyed – though he had no idea why!
What should my response have been? Remembering that I am a child of the King, totally accepted and loved by him, I do not need the respect and affirmation of others. Therefore I am free to reach out to them and welcome their ‘interruptions’ into my life.
On a bigger scale, I have begun to see that in my relationship with my husband and daughters, I have a need to be needed. What I have fondly perceived as my servant heart – a desire to serve others and meet their needs – can so often become a need to be needed. I enjoy serving – as long as others need me and appreciate me!
As our daughters are growing up and leaving the nest, the reality of this need to be needed has been painfully brought home to me. Part of the reason why I struggle with the impending empty nest is that I no longer feel needed – and that was where I was deriving so much of my identity. What will I do when they fly the nest? Who will I be? I will be what I have always been – a child of God, loved and chosen by the King to worship, love and serve Him, first and foremost, and then others whom He chooses to bring into my life.
The issue of worship is the other side of who I am. Part of my calling is to worship Him – which is only a logical response to who he is and what he has done for me in Christ. He has given me ‘everything I need for life and godliness’ and that includes what I need for this stage of parenting, for this phase of my life. I don’t need the respect of my husband and I don’t need to be needed by my daughters – I have everything I need in Christ and when I recognise that and rest in that fact, I will stop demanding from others what they cannot give me – ‘the inward rest of soul that only God can give’ (p.59).
Resting in who God is means that I will worship him as Creator. I will therefore not try to recreate others in my image but will learn to be thankful for how God has made them. I will worship him as Sovereign and therefore I will not try to take his place in writing their story but will learn to appreciate their differences. I will worship him as Saviour and therefore I will take my sin seriously rather than focus on the sin of others.
‘Only when I remember who I am and worship God for who he is can I respond to you with patient, gentle, hopeful, and courageous love.’ (p.65).