BY COURTNEY LAIB, STORY HOPE
Welcome to day 11 of our #31days series on Identity. I hope you’ve all enjoyed this conversation on Identity as much as Lauren and I have. And thank you for walking so graciously with us as we uncover some of the ugly places in our own hearts and do our best to redirect our identity to Jesus. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.
(Photo by FineArtAmerica)
I didn’t go to college. I mean, I didn’t take the traditional college route. I did one year of community college after high school but I didn’t really know what I ‘wanted to be’ and I was never really all that fond of the academic world. I really just wanted to serve people. And more specifically, ‘the least of these’. I believe it’s really just the way I’m wired. I’m drawn to them. The homeless man/woman on the street corner, the girl struggling with her sexuality, the outsider, the foster kid… my heart aches for the people who feel like nobody loves them. So when I was 18, some friends and I started feeding homeless people in our city (Des Moines, IA). We would pack 50 sack lunches every Sunday and then hit the streets that night to look for people who needed/wanted food. Oh the stories I could tell of the people we met.
When I was 19 I moved to Brooklyn, NY to work for an inner-city children’s organization that went into the housing projects all across New York City to share the love and hope of Jesus. I spent almost three years there and it was one of the sweetest seasons of my life. And also one of the hardest. The pain that lives in the projects of NYC is devastating. Thankfully, God is greater. Many days though, I want to go back. It’s such a beautifully broken place.
To make a long (life) story a little shorter, I’ll tell you that I’ve also worked at a non-profit focused on reaching out to at-risk teens AND I’m married to a Pastor. How’s that for impressive? Ok, if you’re still with me and haven’t either thrown your computer against the wall or vomited… then hear me out.
There once was a day in which my IDENTITY was in what I DID for God rather than in God Himself. Yep, it’s true. For nearly a decade now, I’ve been convinced that if I was “doing ministry” somewhere full-time and making a difference in people’s lives (especially the poor) then God would most definitely be proud of me. It didn’t matter how close my relationship to Him was, or if I actually believed what He said about me, or that His love was enough, as long as I was DOING something for him. It’s only been within the last several months that I’ve realized the lie I’d been believing and I’m changing my reality. I’m done striving. I’m done trying to please. I’m done trying to make someone proud of me who ALREADY IS.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:21-23
Do you ever fall into this trap? Do you believe the lie that God will love you more if you do more for Him? Have you been striving to earn something that you already have? This is where Grace comes in, my friends. If this is you, then today is a fresh start. You can be done with the ‘try-hard life’. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be anyway.
I don’t know about you but when I meet Jesus face to face someday, the last thing I want to hear Him say is “I never knew you”, because I was too busy working FOR HIM to actually rest IN HIM. If He doesn’t have our hearts then He could care less about our work. But here’s the beautiful thing… once we KNOW that our identity is in Him and only Him, with that comes a freedom to love, and serve, and create just the way He intended for us to do. No guilt. No shame. No striving. Just living in His grace.
Courtney is a mom, wife, friend, and Instagram addict. She lives in the Chicago area with her Pastor husband and three year old son. She is a fan of summer time, chai tea lattes, running, making new friends, traveling, and loving the ‘least of these’. She blogs at storyhope.com and you can usually find her talking about life, faith, and finding hope in brokenness.