When I was in grade school, my Dad wanted me to be a pharmacist. He thought it was a very respectable career, and while I agree, I wasn't interested. I also wasn't interested in medicine, law or business. I wanted to be famous, I just didn't know how to get there.
What I did know was that I am a female and I am Armenian. I was a student, and then a worker. I became a wife, and later a mother. I went from being a mother of one son to a mother of two sons. I was a servant at church and on various committees. And then there are my hobbies: I am a writer, a dancer, a traveler. Although I am a lot of things, those things often change as I go through life. But there's one part of my identity that is consistent, and that is my identity in Christ.
A small but mighty group of women met at Camp Arev in Frazier Park last weekend to explore this topic of Identity further. Our speaker, Searan Kiledjian, shared her thoughts on this subject based on Ephesians 1:3-14. She challenged us to examine our hearts to discover our significance, identity and self-worth, reminding us that if our identity is not in Christ, then it is a false identity.
Unfortunately, we often define ourselves externally, circumstantially, and by comparison to others. The things we frequently put our identity in – wealth, jobs, even our families – are not eternal. Without Christ, our lives are unfulfilled, unsatisfying and incomplete. Searan taught us that false fulfillment is what we escape to (other than Christ) and false obsession is what we long for (more than Christ).
This really made me stop and think. Where am I seeking fulfillment? In my family – in raising successful and well-mannered children? In my work – in having a popular blog or maybe publishing a book one day? In adventure – in travelling the world or at least going back to Paris? And then that false obsession – talk about a rude awakening! Do I LONG FOR Christ? Not usually. I typically long for a nap.
Searan said that once we make something an idol, we are sinning. I don't know why this hit me so hard. Obviously idolatry is wrong, and I know that I can make things like perfectionism or facebook an idol (consider how you spend most of your time). But I felt so convicted at the simple truth that this is sinning. As if I could forget that I'm a sinner! Or have I rationalized this so much in my mind that I've become desensitized to my own sin?!
We also talked about having a forgotten identity, when we live knowing the truth of Christ but we live so focused on our circumstances that we forget what Jesus has done for us. We can't forget Christ's work on the cross and His continued faithfulness, goodness and sovereignty. Searan reminded us that God gets upset when we don't trust Him! We draw closer to Him by not forgetting Him in our difficult circumstances. We're called to be daughters of Christ and live for Him in all areas of our life.
We had some beautiful discussions in our small groups and continued to chat over meals and during our activities. There were only four of us from Fresno, so we were able to meet many beautiful and godly sisters from Los Angeles and Orange County. What a fun group of women! You know, I love church and I love Bible study, but that's only a few hours at a time. This weekend retreat gave me a few days of continuous time with fellow women of faith, and it was glorious.
Along with the fun and interactive sessions, we had lots of downtime and activities to enjoy throughout the weekend. Friday night we stayed up late playing a rousing game of Apples to Apples. Saturday afternoon we were able to go zip lining, shoot some arrows in archery, get treated to a massage, and take a cooking class with our amazing camp chef, Jen. We made cream puffs and tiramisu! Yes, I helped and I didn't burn anything. Did you know that cream puff dough consists of only five ingredients?
I'm thankful for a weekend getaway, although I did miss my boys. I'm thankful that I met so many beautiful women I can now call friends. I'm thankful that I was able to get to know my Fresno friends in a deeper way. I'm thankful for the fun of zip lining and learning to make pastry dough. I'm thankful for the faith of women in churches all over our state. And most of all, I'm thankful that my identity is in Christ – that He formed my inward parts and wove me in my mother's womb, that I was made in secret, skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth and that His eyes have seen my unformed substance (Psalm 139), and that I don't need to regard man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils (Isaiah 2:22). Instead, I will remember that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).