name: discovering where your true identity lies

name - discovering where your true identity lies - id badge @poetryjoy.com

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually. It matters. Most parents spend a long time choosing their offspring’s name/s, although some of us might wish we didn’t have the one we ended up with.

I came into the world earlier than expected, born to parents who could barely agree on anything. Legend has it that my father simply pointed to the two tiny scraps in incubators and named us as he saw fit. My sister was swiftly named after stars and my name became a diminutive of my mother’s.

It felt like I needed to be like her, at least a little as I grew up, but we were chalk and cheese. So it wasn’t until I came to faith in Christ in my teens that I saw any merit in my name. It was in the Bible, after all, and a fruit of the Spirit no less! ūüôā

Yet the name that means the most to me is that of Jesus, who has many titles and attributes as well. Jesus is the Name above all names. His is the name we whisper in prayer and seek out in anguished despair. Our commission as believers is to make the name of Jesus known to others as we demonstrate His mercy, grace and love.

name - Our commission as believers quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I have a light

I have a light
given to me from birth
recessed in dark
it was sparked by holy love
making a home in my heart

I have a light
flowing out of my spirit
it’s often dim
or at least I cannot see
how it might shine out of me

I have a light
it flickers when the wind blows
it’s barely alive
but a mere candlewick
you can hardly tell it’s lit

I have a light
which God wants me to let shine
just as it is
because he fuels the flame
so his name can be proclaimed

I have a light
glowing on the inside
burning bright
revealing Christ within
and how I might live for him
© joylenton

name - candle flame - I have a light poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

May you take hope from knowing you are more than your name suggests, more than your weakness or illness, and more than the spurious names or labels others have identified you as or you have spoken over yourself.

You and I are more than society says we are because our true identity rests in being wholly beloved and precious children of God.  And we are called to be His disciples, acting as a healing gift of salt and light to a needy world.

I’m honoured to be adding my poem to the five-minute-friday community posts as we write out our thoughts on this week’s word prompt “name.” You are welcome to join us here and read the great variety of posts being shared.¬†

Not all of us have had perfect parenting or happy families. Solo artist (and previously lead singer for Creed) Scott Stapp’s story is a painful one, but as he shares in the song below, he is determined to make things different for his own son, because God has turned his life around. That’s the hope for all of us as we live out our redemptive stories here.

who: searching for our true soul identity

ballerina on a rock - who_ searching for our true soul identity @poetryjoy.com

Our true soul identity isn’t always clear. Who we are deep inside can become distorted in a complex maze of roles, labels, problems and pain. Especially if we assimilate flawed views and opinions of ourselves over the years.

As children we can be parented and nurtured well or damaged by careless handling and bad experiences. Such things help shape our perspective. They can also create a false persona we try hard to live up to.

Thankfully, there is someone who has a clear-eyed view of who we are. Our true identity is safe with God. He sees our hidden self. The parts we feel ashamed of and hide from others. The truth of who we are deep down.

God sees into the depths of our soul. He knows our heart and what we are capable of. He sees all we are in the process of becoming by His grace. He loves us unconditionally, unreservedly and eternally.¬†I know who I am because I know the awe-inspiring, holy I AM Himself. It’s a great relief and a huge blessing to be so well known and yet so amazingly loved.

Who

her real identity was swallowed up
in a dark, murky sea of hurt and pain
washed with woundedness, false guilt
and shame, because she didn’t know
who she was or how to reclaim herself

her who became her do as she
sought to find herself in tasks
and helping others, but deep
inside she ached and cried with a
hollow void, and she lost her voice

until God revealed the way back
to being herself, to being whole
was through the cross of Jesus Christ
his beloved Son, and her true soul
identity, her “who” was wrapped up
in his mercy, grace and endless love

instead of worrying about her loss
she could open up like a fragrant
flower, spill out her life in writing
words and prayer, let her focus shift
toward Whose she has become by
faith, who she is now in his embrace
© joylenton

who - searching for our true soul identity poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I’m sharing my poem with the fabulous five-minute-friday writing community. This week’s prompt is ‘who’. You are welcome to join us. Just click here to read the great variety of posts being share. ūüôā

normal: living beyond our limitations

 

What does it mean to be ‘normal’? Is there such a thing? I guess it depends on your personal definition, doesn’t it? Because the world will always try to¬†compartmentalise, squash us into boxes and confine us in its own straitjackets, if we let it.

The good news is God created each and every one of us unique. And we answer to Him alone, defined only by what His word says about us and who we are in Christ. That thought comforts me as I aim to live well with M.E and chronic illness.

You and I don’t have to fit within the world’s narrow (and frequently judgemental) parameters. We are special to God, understood completely by Him, if no-one else. God wants us to grow into the best version of ourselves we can be by His grace, to know we are His cherished Beloved.

I miss some of the activities I used to do before illness made being housebound a normality for me, especially spending summer days at the beach. Here in Norfolk we are blessed to have a few within driving distance.

However, they are often hard to access by foot (or wheelchair) once you’ve parked, with their steep inclines, long, winding pathways and uneven, pebbly stones to traverse, never mind distance from car to beach.

It’s been an outing I’ve had to forego for years because the car journey alone would exhaust me. Though I still travel there fondly in my memories, as in the poem below…

Normal for Norfolk

The sea tosses back and forth with wild, hyperactive
froth churning up thick rivers of mud, reflecting the sanded
character of a Norfolk beach, whose waters are latte-brown
with a side shot of espresso hiccupped out now and then

There’s a roar that steals away our words, deafening
as it drowns out all sound apart from its own
and we wonder anew at the way waves crash so
violently, yet dissipate into delicate filigrees

A surging wind stings our cheeks with saline drops
which wake us up, catch away our breath, bring tears
to stinging eyes and a gasp of surprise at its velocity
making unsteady, giddy skittles out of you and me
©joylenton

 

How do you view your life in terms of being ‘normal’ or otherwise?

What helps you to retain a positive outlook?

I’d love to hear in the comments below. ūüėä

PS: I’ve been writing about¬†¬†the calming¬†effects of the sea over¬†on my Facebook page. You can find it here and read the #dailyhaiku #novembernugget posts being shared. May the soul snippets of poetry bless you, friend. ‚̧

searching: looking for truth, spirit harmony and soul peace

searching-spirit-harmony-truth-peace-poetry-joy

 

We search through dark, inky nights and bright shimmering days. Yet what we long for so often seems to slip away in the haze. Our searching for meaning and significance are inextricably linked to our humanity.

It’s what we were created for: to know that there is so much more than eyes can see, to long for someone who can truly see everything, teach us who we really are and what our purpose might be. We need soul harmony, a spirit aligned with the divine rather than fighting against itself.

Some look to the stars, the moon and all created things, because they whisper secrets of God’s essence. He shines in shades of glory human eyes can contemplate, marvelling as they do at liquid beauty light and hints of magnificence in creation’s outpouring.

What window do we choose from which to view life’s deep secrets? Many are opaque, effectively concealing more than revealing. But the mirror of God’s Word is crystal clear, translucent and transparent, though seemingly hidden at first glance.

In searching the Scriptures we develop a growing awareness of the answers to life’s thorny questions. We gradually discover just who we are, what we need to do and why we are here for such a time as this. Our true identity becomes revealed.

Though there are other ways of searching, understanding our life’s deepest meaning and purpose is best discovered if we ask the Creator and Author Himself to reveal them to us, and come to His Word with a reverent, receptive mind and heart.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” ~ Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

When we look out this window

May a sad fool-heart always

remember vast night stars sailing

like brilliant ice through the sky

And how dark, delicious morning

coffee melted as liquid smile, with

kisses of our velvet poetry‚ÄĒfor

only secret desires lie prisoner

when we look out this window

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-when-we-look-out-this-window-pj

 

Spirit harmony

Come follow pure, fresh, fertile grass;

behold quiet rustle of peace bloom

bright like Eden’s sacred song,

cycling thick as summer sun

Wander long, wild and deep,

and soft, murmuring breeze will

be a world’s spirit harmony

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-spirit-harmony-pj

 

My way of searching for meaning and significance in my youth led me down some dark and dismal corridors before I found what I was looking for. Thankfully, when I was 17, God opened my eyes to His presence and shone the brilliant beam of His love-light into my heart.

It had been there from the very beginning, of course, but I didn’t know it, because God doesn’t force entry into our lives. Instead, He waits patiently, gently opens windows of opportunity and invites us to enter in.

How have you discovered meaning and significance in your life?

Can you relate to times when God has revealed Himself to you more powerfully?

joy in having a new identity in Christ

write31days-journeying-into-joy-new-identity

 

For way too many years I wore labels. Not the coveted designer kind, more the state-of-mind type people designate to us, or we happily pin on ourselves. Most of mine got attached in childhood and others soon followed suit.

I lost my true identity in a sea of shame, a ditch of guilt and a river of pain. It felt like my head was branded with words like ‘failure’, ‘not enough’, ‘mistake’, ‘unattractive’, ‘rejected’ and ‘unwanted’. ¬†Maybe you’ve worn a few of them, too?

The thing is, unwanted labels can become so intrinsic to who we think we are, so familiar and comfortable we forget we’re wearing them. But they’re speaking lies, sending out false messages, keeping us bound, chained to the past.

Because the truth? We are God’s beloved children first and foremost, given a new identity when we come to faith in Christ. Our old filthy rags don’t fit who we are anymore, yet we cling to them like the latest must-have fashion accessory, and they still stick to us until we realise we can become free of them.

Our minds don’t have to be dressed in ill-fitting garments, because Jesus offers us His own robe of righteousness, a royal cloak and covering, perfectly fit for children of the King of kings.

In order to remember we are covered by Christ’s righteousness, mercy and grace, we have to make a conscious daily choice to put on the identifying clothing of love, joy, compassion and kindness.

We are not the weak saplings we see ourselves as, but strong oaks of righteousness, planted by God for the display of His splendour. Instead of the flawed, misapplied labels from the past, we now answer to words like ‘precious’, ‘honoured’, ‘beloved’ and ‘blessed’.

God sent me to announce the year of his grace¬†‚ÄĒ a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies¬†‚ÄĒ and to comfort all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory” ~Isaiah 61:1-3 – The Message

You offer me

I hunger for affirmation

and thirst for recognition

You offer me soul completion

 

I hunger for acceptance

and thirst for love, romance

You offer me sacred dance

 

I hunger for gainful employ

and thirst for things that destroy

You offer me deep inner joy

 

I hunger for life perfection

and thirst for new direction

You offer me resurrection

©JoyLenton2016

“You’ll get a brand new name

straight from the mouth of God..

No more will anyone call you Rejected…

You’ll be called Hephzibah (My Delight)…

Because God delights in you” ~ Isaiah 62:2-4 – The Message

Dear Father,

May we learn to live defined by who we are in Christ ‚ÄĒ your blessed, beautiful, cherished, joy-filled adopted children, sons and daughters of the living God, heirs with Jesus ‚ÄĒrather then as unwanted, unloved, rejected, scorned orphans of our circumstances.

Help us to remember and rejoice in knowing we have been set free from the past, given a new name and identity. We are redeemed, restored, renewed, forgiven, accepted and made righteous because of your generous mercy and grace.

Thank you for the joy we have from our new identity in you. May we embrace it to the full and gladly share it with others.

Amen

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badge

Welcome to the final day of #31days¬†of journeying into joy. Where did October go?! Thank you SO much for being here. I’ve really enjoyed sharing this series with you.

And I have a hunch this journey will be an ongoing faith exercise for you and me, a lifelong pilgrimage to the Father’s loving heart.

write31days-journeying-into-joy-identity-in-christ-prayer

Looking and finding

SAMSUNG

‘Looking and finding’

I look for the face of Christ

Now obscured by a cloud of unknowing,

a veil of uncertainty

a mist of missed moments

Grey cobweb coating distorts

all sense of His Presence

I grope blind for the grace of Christ

Now shadowed by seeds of doubt,

a complacency about the commonplace,

a turning away sigh, a dull

grey ache nothing else can

subdue, erase or ever replace

I see and sense Him everywhere

Now as the babe in the manger

An infant Christ-child, an innocent

A mild man bleeding wild-red on a cross

A risen Saviour overcoming

all pain, all sorrow, all loss

I find traces of His face

in every man, woman and child

Though it is seen the most

in those who love Him most of all

His grace, beauty, mercy and charity

reflected imperfectly ~ in you and me

©JoyLenton2015

“In Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognised by those on the way of salvation – an aroma redolent with life..” ~ 2 Corinthians 2:15 – The Message

looking and finding PJ pin

Living with shadows

This week I’ve had a wake-up call.

Ground has shifted beneath my feet.

Stirrings sit uneasy in my soul.

The life I thought I knew has become redefined.

As I reflected long and prayerfully on what my ‘love idol’ might be and the overcoming of it, some things have surprised me.

When you live in Shadowlands of sickness and pain, attempting to recover from a painful past,  it can be hard to see your way clearly. 

Now I have insight I wish I’d known about before.

God has pointed His finger at the familiar ~ people approval issues, insecurity, concerns about not being ‘enough’, putting other people and things before Him, spending too much time on social media ~¬†all painfully true.

Then another idea wove its way into my mind, threaded through my thoughts, and caused me to unravel.

How do I perceive myself? As a believer who is overcoming a challenging present and a painful past by the grace of God?

Or.. as an M.E and chronic illness sufferer who is still cloaked in shame, buried beneath pain, consumed by cares, ground down by the gritty reality of daily life?

A pit dweller, wilderness wanderer, valley-living soul longing to see daylight, scale mountain peaks, rest easy. 

Most of my days I aim to see glimmers of grace, maintain an attitude of gratitude, emphasise the positive.

But I still define myself as an ill person with problems ~ and that’s the problem.¬†

God is showing me I’m actually halting my own healing and preventing His full work in me by not seeing myself as I am in Christ.

I’ve stopped praying and saying out my healing in Christ. I’ve believed the lie that this is as good as it gets. I’ve made it my identity.

It’s become an idol because it steals my joy, inhibits faith growing, reminds me of where I came from rather than where I am going to.

And it has to stop.

‘Living with shadows’

A wrongly assumed identity

of living with shadows and infirmity

Christ calls me to believe I’m set free

unchained, unmarked, untainted, liberated,

whereas I see myself caught, ensnared,

decimated by childhood abuse, illness, M.E

As if I wore a label belonging to another

instead of one provided by my soul’s Lover

Living with pain and chronic illness over many years,

observing my career, hopes and dreams slip away

trickling with my tears as water down the drain

nothing quite the same, only weakness and fears

I’ve worn it as a shroud, death mask, daily dress

instead of clothing myself in His robe of righteousness

Feeling insecure, dis-abled, incapable

when God has gifts He wants to bestow

I’ve failed to receive and accept them all

while my thinking is focused on being unwell

We can only grow when we are willing enough

to let go of all that’s slowly killing us

©JoyLenton2014

I can’t deny the physical reality of my life; it’s effects are ever-present. Loosing and letting go of the idea of myself as chronically sick won’t be easy.

All the evidence is before my eyes. And the past is still pervading my days with its own anguish and pain. Abuse leaves a legacy, a scarring of soul, heart and mind ~ etched inky black stains. 

But I deny the spiritual reality unless I begin to call forth those things which are not yet as though they are.

Look into the mirror of His word and start seeing myself as healed, whole, restored, renewed. Speak out the promises. Live as though I truly believed them.

It won’t be easy. I’ve lived this inhibited, limited life with M.E for over 20 years.¬†Lived far longer with the scars of my past. Yet I know nothing is impossible with God. And I’m ready (knees shaking, heart quaking) to do this.

Not to deny the reality I live with but to embrace the life Christ died to give me. 

Because when God won’t let something go, then neither should we. When He asks us to let go of something, we need to pay attention.

Those things He may be pointing to in your life? It could be time to #listentoyourlife and listen to His voice.

You too can join in with Jennifer and the Love Idol community¬†as we seek to unearth our ‘Love Idol’, confess and address it.

I’ve been privileged to read a preview ¬†of the first chapter of Jennifer’s ¬†book. You can pre-order it here. And ¬†for the free printable resources, click here.

I’ve also been greatly helped on my continuing journey toward healing from childhood sexual and emotional abuse by readingNot Marked’¬†by Mary de Muth.

I’ll be writing more about where this journey is taking me in the weeks ahead and I’d love you to join me.