Remember these commercials? Hilarious. A bad actress’ voice coming out of a weight lifter’s body. A valley girl’s voice coming out of a couch potato’s body. A middle-aged wannabe ladies’ man voice coming out of a female dental hygienist’s body. The humor (and slight discomfort?) comes out of the disconnect; we know it’s inauthentic. We know that something is not right.
When I left for Colorado in February, I was already deep into feeling that disconnect within me. I knew there was a separation between the way I saw myself and who God says I am. I knew I could never fulfill God’s plan for my life as long as I was living with that disconnect. Trouble was, I had no idea how to bridge that gap. Four days in the beautiful mountains of Colorado spent focused 100% on God seemed like a great opportunity figure it out…with the Holy Spirit’s help, of course. So when each of us were asked on the first night to share why we were there, I said I wanted to learn what it meant to be a daughter of God. Well, he answered my request and then some, repeatedly speaking into my heart over the course of that weekend and restoring the identity I’d lost years ago.
You might be wondering, “What did he tell you? Who did he say that you are?” Well…I’ve got a little notebook with pages and pages of things he spoke to my heart, but they are too precious to publish. Just as you keep your social security number to yourself, some things the Lord says are treasures that must be hidden in your heart so the world can’t pillage them.
What I will tell you is this: Identity can only be stolen when we get lazy in protecting it. This protection cannot be outsourced to some insurance company or credit agency; we must handle it ourselves. I became lax and allowed my environment to define me; people, things, jobs…all kinds of outside, changeable, inconsistent things. Such instability! Security, authenticity, and wholeness can only come when who we are is defined by something (or Someone) unchanging.
Which brings me to my tattoo. Victims of identity theft are constantly looking over their shoulder, feeling unsafe and insecure. Not only is losing your identity an inconvenient hassle, it’s frightening. The fear is so common there are companies that exist solely to monitor client accounts in order to minimize damage when a breach occurs. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take measures to prevent a breach. To keep myself from landing back in that fearful, unstable place or becoming lazy in my duty to guard my identity, I got a reminder that would be easily visible, with me all the time, and keep all those things Daddy God spoke over me at the forefront of my thoughts. Every time I look at my wrist, that flower and its purple blooms remind me of how God sees me, of specific characteristics and gifts he gave me. The dandilion-like appearance reminds me I’m constantly shedding more of me to make room for more of him. It also makes me mindful of the seeds I’m planting and the harvest I’m expecting.
Getting a tattoo isn’t something I’d encourage you to do each time you need a reminder or you’ll wind up looking like Guy Pierce in Memento, but I do encourage you to use a prop or two to help you hold onto the things God speaks to you. Amy, my retreat buddy, has a couple of great blog posts (here and here) about using props as reminders. These items are not idols, but rather triggers you can use to help you fight for, watch over, and protect those words from the Lord. The goal is first to attain authenticity by reclaiming our identity; then, preserve and maintain.
What about you? What’s the status of your identity? Are you using any props to remind you of things God’s spoken to you?