The lights were dim; the only sound was the humming of the ceiling fan. Jason and I were lying in bed, having one of our confession nights. Every so often we schedule a time to talk about recent wrong choices we have made that have gone unspoken. After my husband shared his, it was my turn. Silence. My heart was racing, and I knew I needed to speak, but Satan kept telling me there was no need. He whispered, “Your issue isn’t marriage related—it isn’t even really an issue. It’s just some thoughts you’ve been having in passing. If you share them, you’re just seeking attention.” Eventually I communicated the scary reality that I have been struggling with the idea of reverting to my eating disorder. Seventeen years ago, as a sophomore in high school, I battled with an eating disorder, and the struggle has never resurfaced until now, for some reason.
My husband first asked if he had ever negatively communicated anything about my body or dietary habits. I assured him he had not. In high school, I heard daily from a family member that I was fat and unattractive, which I have always assumed was the main reason for the disorder. My husband is the picture of unconditional love, and I have never heard him speak a negative or critical word about anyone, especially me. The atmosphere he has created for me is one of freedom and love, the opposite of what I once knew, so why would this old struggle be resurfacing?
That is when Jason asked me if it was an identity issue. Had I forgotten who I was in Christ? As I have pondered his wise question, I realize he is right.
My identity is wrapped up in being a Christian.
Notice I didn’t say my identity is in Christ, but rather in what I am doing for him. I have found my distinction not in what Jesus says about me but in what others think of me. Teacher, Bible study leader, volunteer, meal maker, prayer warrior, speaker, author, blogger—those accolades, titles, and opportunities have crept in and taken over who I am.
My identity is wrapped up in being a wife.
I love the title Mrs. Jason Dugger. That’s my name, but I often forget that is not who I am. My husband’s love does not define me. I put so much pressure on him to be my all-in-all that I fail to remember that long before I was Jason’s, I was God’s. When I mix those loves up, I lose what Christ says about me and exchange his claim on my life for a temporary fix.
My identity is wrapped up in being a mother.
My struggle gets real here! It was this mistaken identity that my husband called out, and rightfully so. While the two earlier ones are battles, this one is a war. My youngest child, Hezekiah, turned one this past weekend. For the first time, we have reached a first birthday without me being pregnant with the next child. We always knew we wanted a big family, and after struggling with infertility and miscarriages, we welcomed every baby with open arms (one right after another, times 5!). A few months ago Jason and I sought the Lord for a single vision regarding our family size. We both felt God asking us to be content. He didn’t say we are done (the dream of more and the possibility of adoption is still on our hearts), but he impressed the word content on us. So for the first time since early 2006, we are trying to avoid pregnancy (using the amazing Creighton model because of our convictions regarding medical birth control). Since I have gone from pregnant to nursing to pregnant again nonstop since my first successful pregnancy in 2008, this is unfamiliar territory. Babies have become my identity. I am the mom of many young children. I’m the pregnant one. I’m the one with all the kids. I find comfort and security in that role, justifying that because the Bible calls children a gift I can’t be struggling with an idol.
When I was sixteen and sticking a marker in the back of my throat to induce vomit, I did not know Christ personally. I knew all about him, could quote a dozen Bible verses, had even been baptized, but I had never walked with him. The day I met him, all my eating disorders stopped. I no longer went weeks with minimal food, nor did I binge and purge. In an instant, the chains of that awful stronghold I had allowed to define me shattered. The reason is that I had a new identity. I was in Christ. I was valuable and beautiful to him. No one else mattered. My life situations didn’t change, but when I cleaved to Christ, I was able to handle them better. Could it be that after many years of following him, I have forgotten who I am and whose I am? Will finding myself standing in the shade of his love alone keep my strongholds at bay?
Until my husband pointed out that perhaps my struggle with starving myself might have to do with being unsure what to do not being pregnant again, I never made the connection. Misplacing our identity affects every area of our lives—marriages included.
Is your identity found in Christ or in some other title or accomplishment?
Sharing with Grace and Truth Linkup Via Arabah Joy Blog.