Identity Crisis

10 03 2011

Everyone has struggles and obstacles and different issues they are trying to overcome or resolve. A good friend of mine is currently in the process of sharing his fight with bi-polar disorder.  (I really want to encourage you to read it on his blog as it has been very freeing and powerful for a lot of people). As I’ve read his story I am reminded of something the very same friend and I asked High School students to take part in back in March of 2010.

We were in the middle of a series entitled “Identity Theft” and as we closed the series we asked students to share their secrets with us. We thought if students had the ability to voice their pains, regrets, struggles, or fears it would help them move even closer to finding their identity in Christ. I don’t think we were really prepared for the response that Sunday.

As the cards flooded the stage we began to recognize a momentary sense of relief. A burden was lifted. After that weekend, I decided to take all of the cards the students wrote on and put them in my office. I wanted our students to know I wouldn’t forget their struggles.

Well, two weekends ago I learned something about those struggles. I learned they won’t forget them either. During the last weekend in February our lead pastor, Steve Madsen, asked the congregation to bring their struggles to the cross. It proved to be a powerful message, as hundreds of people wrote their struggles, regrets, pains and fears on note cards and nailed them to the cross. All last week our staff prayed over these cards and as I sat there reading some of them I began to get the feeling like I had heard these somewhere before.

“I can’t believe I went through with the abortion.”

“I fear being a teenage mom will become my identity.”

“I have an addiction to pornography.”

“I no longer want to live.”

These people’s stories break my heart and I’ve come to understand even more through this experience that it doesn’t really matter what stage of life we are in, we still hurt. People are broken, people are in pain, and most people don’t know where to turn.

My favorite part about my friend’s story is that Bi-polar disorder is not who he is. It does not define him. I think he would probably say he has surrendered that part of his life to Christ and has found freedom in the surrender.

***Side note: I want to be clear and make sure you do not think I am comparing bi-polar disorder or any other illness with sin, because it’s not. I’m essentially talking about pain, sorrow, regret, and struggles as a part of our lives and as they become more prevalent, we have tendencies to allow them to define who we are. ***

I think surrender is the key here. The only way to be completely healed is to nail our pain and afflictions to the cross and leave them there. Jesus didn’t die to borrow our transgressions and our hurt, he died to remove them. There is freedom in Christ because he conquered the cross and when we find our identity there, we experience that freedom. I hope our students and our congregation continue to surrender and find healing. I hope as people share their burdens and struggles we come alongside them in love. I hope we trust God, amidst confusion and emptiness, for His never ending grace and love. And I hope we choose to find our identity in Jesus Christ and not the hardships we encounter.