Many of us don’t realize our identities are based on the things of this world until we are thrown into chaos. When things are completely out of our control, and we “suddenly” remember to rely on God.
This rang true for me when my husband and I moved to England over two years ago. Re-locating your life to another country may sound appealing at first, but I remember walking into our new house straight off the plane and thinking, “What have we done?”
I didn’t know how to turn the shower on, lock the front door, or which stores to shop in (and even if I did, which brand do I buy?). Every little thing was different, and the combination of it all made me feel completely lost.
My constant explanation for feeling out of place … “I’m an American.” All of a sudden, where I was born became my crutch.
I’m upset because I’m an American living in a new country.
I don’t understand what you’re saying because I’m an American.
I’m an American, so I don’t do that. I’m an American, so I won’t fit in.
It was my identity; something I had never really considered until moving across the Atlantic.
The first few months were like infancy. Each day I would learn something new, or re-learn how to do something the “British” way. I couldn’t complete simple tasks on my own because I feared I would do them the wrong way. It was the most humbling experience.
Thankfully, I made the decision early on (after a few meltdowns) to trust God. After all, He had called us to this new place and provided a way to make it happen. He wouldn’t want me to feel lost because He was in this journey before me, is with me now and goes before me.
Understanding your identity in Christ is the key to overcome days, seasons or even years of chaos. Your God-given identity keeps you grounded, secure and confident. YOU are a child of God—the one who is behind YOU, with YOU, and before YOU. Who doesn’t want that sense of peace?
Now, you don’t have to move overseas to be thrown into chaos. Moving cities, changing jobs or starting university can all challenge where our identity lies. The real question is: which routines do we need to establish that will remind us of our God-given identity, so that we are prepared when chaos strikes?
1. Commit to a Christian Community: How are you going to remember your identity in Christ if you don’t surround yourself with other Christians to encourage you and hold you accountable? You need those people to say, “You’re lost right now because you’re focusing too much on the things of this world.” Reality check! Find a church and a small group. You won’t regret it—bonus, you’ll make some amazing friendships too.
2. Fuel Your Gifts: Avoid the busyness and make time for talents God has given you. Whether you draw, write, run, cook, etc. doing what you’re good at brings you joy. Period. It’s in those moments of joy that you’re grateful to God for the way He’s made you; your own unique identity. For me, even though everything was different in England, I could still do things I enjoyed (nature photography, writing, etc.)—I just needed to make time for it.
3. Read, Reflect, Repeat: Read your Bible, reflect and pray about what you’ve read and REPEAT! I know that’s the Christian answer for everything, but it’s because it really does matter. Being in God’s word on a daily basis will allow God to impact everything you do. When you allow God to renew your mind, you’ll understand Him greater and, in turn, understand yourself better too.
I’ll be honest, number three is the one I struggle most with, but with the New Year on the horizon, I really want to be intentional about being in the word. Starting another year is the perfect time to incorporate new routines, but don’t pick the routines that will get you ahead in this world.
Focus on the eternal in 2018 and stay strong in the chaos.
Mariava Phillips lives in Manchester, England with her husband Andrew. Together they work for the local church and focus on reaching young professionals in the city. Mariava is also a freelance writer, and in her free time enjoys exploring new places with a camera in hand, sharing a meal with friends and spoiling her pup Duke.