Waiting in line at the grocery store the other day, bored by the tabloids on my left and striving hard to avoid the sweet candy temptations on my right I focused my attention on the person in front of me checking out. I watched as the cashier methodically scanned and bagged each item and then stated the amount due. She then does something that you rarely see anymore. She asked the person who had just finished swiping their credit card for a picture ID. Amazed at the fact that she even asked, I was even more astonished that she actually compared the name against the credit card. More amazing still I watched as she looked at the photo on the ID, looked back at the customer, back at the ID again and one more time glared at the customer before questioning “you changed your hair color?”
Nervously, as if being interrogated, the customer laughed nodding her head yes, realizing the cashier was more than serious. She wanted to make sure that the ID this woman gave was actually her own. She wanted the picture to confirm the customers identity.
As I was driving home, my imagination drifted back to that scene and I couldn’t figure out why that encounter struck me so hard. Suddenly, as God often does, a mental brick of thought fell on my head and He began connecting the dots of this illustration and what He wanted me to gain from it.
In a quiet thought in my head I heard the question, “who/what is the picture of on your ID, Teresa?” I physically felt my heart drop with a little bit of shame, my shoulder fell and reluctantly, out of my mouth came the answer – “not you, Jesus.”
As a Christ follower, I should be reflecting His image at all times, not only in what I do and how I do it but most importantly in why I do it and what I gain from it.
Recently, I stepped down from Creative Arts Director at my church after 10 years of leading the ministry. All in all, I had spent 16+ years serving, creating, ministering and impacting people for Jesus. Though it had it’s challenges, I could confidently say that I was doing something valuable and worth while with my life and the gifts I had been given. Unfortunately that is where my identity and security was placed. My mood would rise or fall with the quality of production or feedback that was given.
Now that I am no longer employed or being productive in a measurable way by others view, I find myself feeling lost and devalued. Too much of my identity, who I am, has been wrapped up in my job and what I could accomplish. If you were to look at my Spiritual/Emotional ID, it would have had a picture of my church or my team that I led. Other times in my life it would have been my kids cute faces on my ID because I found my value and identity in who they were and how good of a mom I could
Society has taught us that our value and worth are measurable by the possessions we own, the number of rungs on the ladder that we climb and how many people applaud us in the process. Can you relate? Do you feel better about yourself when you have gotten a raise, aced a test, lost weight, OR even how many likes or comments you get on a Facebook status? Come on, we’ve all done it. We’ve all gotten pumped up or depleted based on responses to our status updates or tweets. Why, because we want to be accepted and feel valuable. The more “likes” we get, the more confident we are. The more followers of our Tweets, the more valuable we feel. We want to be contributors who get noticed for our achievements and talents. But, too often, our identity gets caught up in needing those accomplishments or great moments in order to experience the feeling of being valued and we get caught in a cycle of finding our identity in those things.
With no job, no income and no product being put out I find myself feeling like my identity is a simple nobody. But that is the farthest thing from the truth. The truth is whether I am busy or still, productive or just resting, up or down, rich or poor or even if I never do another productive thing in my life on earth, I am “made in the image of Christ” and the only ID picture I should have is one that reflects His image. Nothing I do or don’t do will make Him love me any more or any less. Nothing…nothing! Only He can bring purpose, value and meaning to my life. I can let go of the need to be better, the need to be productive and the need to be valuable in the eyes of others and let Him do the work instead. When people ask for my ID, they won’t see a director, a mom, a wife or even an aging 40 year old woman. They will see the image of Christ, at least that is what I long for.
Back to the question “who/what is the picture of on your ID, Teresa?” that I believe came from God. My picture has changed from time to time, but from this point on, I will choose to be confident in being loved and valued by the one True God and let His Image be what others see, not my gifts or what I can do. It is merely my job to “seek first the Kingdom of God,” build my relationship with Him and let Him do the rest. John 15:5 states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me; and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
But even as I seek Him, I was reminded from a dear friend, that I need to guard my heart and check my motives. My friend, Susan Cowger so wisely wrote, “I find it interesting that some try to find relationship with God to GET the changes and GET him to speak through them (ahhh to become wise). Desiring relationship with God then becomes a means to an end. We are only told to seek God. The result of finding relationship is really not that much of our concern. We are bond servants, here to do his will. Our question each day should be: What is your bidding today Lord? And then carry it out. Seems better to keep moving ahead rather than looking in the mirror to see if the relationship thing is looking good on me. There is a terrible temptation to take credit for what God is doing.”
May I never boast in my relationship with Him so that my prideful spirit hides the Face of God on my ID.