This spring, I shared Part I of my thoughts on Martha and Mary in a blog focused on the idea that it is in our best interest to break our busy habits and table our to-do lists with purpose. I wrote about learning to sit at the feet of Jesus to experience rest and peace, while creating a space to connect and hear from God. This was my story—a story of relationship building with God.
As I reflected on what I wrote about, I realized that this wasn’t the end of our journey with Martha and Mary. The idea of “just being” like Mary and sitting with the Lord was only the beginning of what I believe God wanted us to learn about being in His presence.
The juxtaposition of Martha and Mary illustrates the conundrum we all face, which is, where do we find or in what do we place our IDENTITY.
If we were to meet (or if you read my bio), you will discover that I am a scientist by training, a dog-lover and world traveler. I love to connect with people deeply, and I value relationships while on this planet. If I could be an animal whisperer, I would be. I most certainly think I am a dog whisperer though!
But is this who I am, really?
I have asked myself this question many times. Have you?
When you do, how do you answer?
If you are like me, you have probably identified yourself using one or more of these qualities and characterizations. It is not surprising because this is how we are taught to talk about ourselves to others. We share what we do, what we like and what we love.
Let’s pause for a moment because you might be thinking:
Why does this even matter?
Isn’t it all relevant to who I am?
Is this just another case of semantics?
Perhaps in our worldly, human way of thinking it may be just that. However, I believe from God’s point of view, it is critical to understand the difference between what we identify with and who we are.
I have learned through my own identity journey, that understanding this very concept is what stands between us and our God-given purpose. We cannot discover our purpose until we have settled our identity in Jesus. I truly believe the Lord is on a quest to correct identity issues because this is where it all begins and ends.
As believers in Jesus, this means we need to see ourselves the way God created us.
We find the words to describe who we are as a “new creation” by searching the scriptures and embracing the truth and love of His words more than our past or the words of others.
All of these other questions, while helpful, create convenient “labels” that reflect experiences, accomplishments and preferences, even circumstances in our life. Yes, these are things that impact us. They may even be things we claim as personal identifiers. And though they may be important, they are more accurately described as things we identify with. If we are not careful, they can actually become distractions or even possible derailments from seeing ourselves the way God sees us. For example, defining ourselves by our relationships can easily be the cause for our mood swings on a daily basis. Staying focused on the right career path or promotion can quickly become a defining point of self-worth. And rehearsing the words of others (good or bad) can propel us or stall us.
A focus on these “false identities” are the crux of falling into the trap of comparison; they are moving targets that constantly make us question ourselves and what we are doing at any given moment.
Please don’t mishear me – all of these descriptors may help to tell the meaningful story of our lives and even shape important parts of our hearts. But first and foremost, we are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). We are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. We are his marvelous and unique masterpiece. The Lord knew us and loved us deeply before we were formed in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5).
Can we pause and reflect on that for a moment?!
He loved us before we were even conceived. In other words, He loved us first (I John 4:19). Can we even truly fathom this kind of love?
He doesn’t love us because we finished college or got a promotion. He loves us with or without that trophy. Sure, he is proud of us like a good earthly father would be, but the things we identify with are not why he loves us and not how he wants us to identify ourselves.
Our identity is and always has been found in God’s love for us. It is nothing we have to strive for, fight for, struggle for, beg for – you get the idea. What freedom we can find in this place! Just think about it. When you know you’re fully loved:
God loves you, just as you are. When you get hold of this simple truth, it frees you to wake up every day and smile at the gift that is your life and just be.
Well, Martha defined herself by serving Jesus. This isn’t a bad thing. Serving Jesus and doing acts of service is amazing! However, Martha believed this was who she was and what she had to do. This belief was more than just a mindset. It was part of the culture of the day, making it even harder to work around.
Mary broke from cultural and social norms. She let herself sit at the feet of Jesus. In his presence, she was defined by his love and his way of seeing her. All the noise and expectations of the world around her didn’t matter.
With Mary as our example, it is in the consistent, quiet moments at Jesus’s feet that we learn to absorb his love and settle back into our original identity. It is also where we let go of the other “identities”—the ones that have shaped our self-worth and even been given a place of importance above God in our lives.
So the challenge we have as this story continues to stir our hearts is to change the narrative we hear, whether in our own minds or in the words spoken over us.
It’s a challenge to remind yourself DAILY that:
As I wrap this up, I recognize this seems lofty and perhaps challenging to download and hardwire into your mind, let alone your heart and soul, in just one blog. So let’s make it practical. The word of God gives many keys to embracing your true identity. One is found in Romans 12:2b: “[...] let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Embracing your true identity comes from the way you think. You must think the way God thinks about you, and this means you need to replace your old thoughts with practical, Bible truths.
Here are some to get you started. You already are:
None of this is based on anything you did or didn’t do… It’s all because of God’s love for you.
You are more than what you identify with, and knowing Whose you are will help you separate the ups and downs of life from the steadfast, consistent, unending, reckless love of God that pursues you day in and day out and keeps you steady on the rock. Like Mary discovered, this is a place of freedom. When your identity is found in knowing you are fully loved by God, you are more free to discover your purpose and live life to the full, as it was designed.
Andrea is a perpetual learner and aspiring writer. She has a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Pathology and has worked both in academia and industry. While published on this front, she is excited to explore her writing in the faith arena.
Born in Spain, raised in Pittsburgh, with an international history, traveling is in Andrea's blood. One postdoctoral position took her as far as Perth, Australia where she lived for almost 4 years and remains in her heart to do this very day.
She loves people, cultures, and truly connecting on a deeper level. Andrea's goal is to use her singlehood story to inspire others to trust God on the journey, have fulfillment and keep hope alive.