Oh those terrible new year’s resolutions. Every year I tell myself not to participate. And every year I fall for it again. I think: ‘just a few’. Only three or four. And I won’t write them down. I’ll keep them in my head and will tell nobody. So nobody will know it didn’t work out. Every. Single. Year.
Do you want to know some of my resolutions these past few years?
– Reading more (when??)
– Exercise more (every single year…)
– Bring balance between work and private life (I did that. I think. Well…)
– Reading the Bible from cover to cover (chuckle)
– Plan more ‘me-time’ (did it! I planned so much more time to work)
– Bikini body please! (no words…)
And every year, somewhere around June, I sit there with my sagging, not bikini proof body, working my buttocks off while my house becomes messier and messier, the pile with unread books grows and I haven’t seen a Bible in three weeks.
Okay, it’s not that bad. Let’s just say I have my moments. And sometimes resolutions do work out. But somehow the failures stick much longer. Can you relate to that?
Who am I?
We as women are extra good at this, it seems. To be continuously worried about expectations and trying to meet them. Expectations of the people around us, but mostly our own expectations. We want to be 100% mom, wife, friend, employee, employer, church member etc.
The danger of looking at all your failures is that it starts eating at your identity. Suddenly the question arises: ‘who am I that I can’t do this?’ Then suddenly it’s no longer about your behaviour or your habits, it’s about your identity. And that’s sneaky. The enemy sneaks in quietly and you don’t even notice it.
When I was a teenager, those expectations swallowed me. They rushed over me and I completely lost myself. The mental pain it caused was so bad, I even used physical pain to numb it. And whatever I tried, whichever resolution I came up with, they all failed. I talked to psychiatrists, took part in programs, followed treatments. But it all kept coming down to that one question: ‘Who am I that I am such a gigantic failure?’.
Martha and Mary
You probably know the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10). You might have heard how preoccupied Martha was or how smart Mary was. But in this story, I believe it is not about being smart or busy, I am convinced that in the end it’s all about identity.
Martha found her identity in her chores. She was a caregiver, a controller, a hard worker. But on that day she found that she couldn’t live up to it all. It was too much. She tried to meet all the expectations. Those of her guests, but mostly of herself. And when she saw that she wasn’t good enough, falling short, she got frustrated, sad, even angry. And she blamed Mary, Jesus, anyone but herself. Let’s be honest. We can relate to this, right? We set high standards, we fight to meet the expectations and we get frustrated or sad when it doesn’t work the way we wanted to. Or we become completely paralyzed.
The better part
And then there’s Jesus. Full of love, He shows Martha another way. A different identity. You don’t have to live up to standards on your own. Mary doesn’t identify as a housekeeper, hard worker or a good hostess. She chooses to identify as someone sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening. Listening endlessly. Against all values of that time (women weren’t supposed to be among the men) she chooses the identity as Beloved Daughter. And Jesus tells us about that: “She has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” – Luke 10:42
Why does Jesus say that? Because whenever we try to do it on our own, in our own strength, if we have new year’s resolutions without listening to Jesus, they often go back in the closet, collecting dust. Doing it on your own takes all the energy we’ve got and it often leaves us with nothing. If you believe your identity is a Beloved Daughter, it cannot be taken away from you. He will meet all the expectations and you don’t have to strive anymore. Jesus has finished it all at the cross.
Sharing from abundance
After years of trying, striving, fighting, wrestling on my own, I found Redemption Church. Here I learned for the first time that God loves me, in spite of all my wrongdoings, shortcomings and defects. I learned to let go, piece by piece. To not try to get my identity from myself, but to find it in Him.
To answer the question: Who am I? ALWAYS His Beloved Daughter. Period! No matter the circumstances, no matter the situation, no matter my own blunders and failures. No matter my successes and victories.
Only when I learnt that, I could start to begin to heal. That’s when I found myself again. I was able to let go of all the expectations, from others and from myself by repeatedly asking: ‘Jesus, what do YOU think of me? Can I manage that in one streak in my own strength? No!’ It is a continuous returning to your identity as a Beloved Daughter. But the best part is, with thát identity as your foundation, it is possible to have success with your resolutions. Why? Because they originate not from a lack of something, but from His abundance.
So: grab yourself a choc, take a seat and think about this question: What new year’s resolutions do my Abba Father have for me? And will these help me to be a light in the darkness this year?
Joké Troost (Netherlands)