The Identity Crisis of My Life

I think it’s time to say something. I’m going to keep it pretty short because I’m not ready to go long on it. Still processing it. Still trying to figure things out. One day maybe I’ll write on it with some length and depth but not until God has done a longer and deeper work in me.

I’ve been through the identity crisis of my adult life in the last year. No exaggeration. It has been one of the most excruciating things I have ever endured. After a lifetime of belonging – which, in itself, betrays a certain privilege – I tumbled into a season marked by the most alien sense of unbelonging. Some of it was imagined. Some of it was startlingly real. Some of it was temporary. Some of it painfully endures. I disappointed people I’d so wanted to please and I was disappointed by people I demanded to be heroic. In some very painful respects, I’d given the benefit of the doubt where I shouldn’t have and withheld it in a few places worthy of it.

Numbers of us who’d previously aligned and agreed – not on everything but on enough – were cracking and crumbling. Some people I thought I knew felt like strangers to me and I, to them. Each of us Christian, some of us would talk and talk and truly attempt to understand one another only to hang up or walk away exasperated, incapable of grasping the other’s view. New teams were forming and I felt like I was slipping on ice, scrambling to find the right one.  The one that would always be right on everything.

A fog had cleared that I couldn’t cloud back up.  I saw things I couldn’t unsee and, for a while, a dark cloud descended where that fog had been. I had the unshakable sense that, though it was dark, I was not to shut my eyes. That I’d see more in that dark place than I’d seen in years of sun-up.

Still navigating some of it. Still trying to keep my eyes open.

And mostly to things that need changing in myself. Ways I’ve been kidding myself. Ways I’ve been part of the problem instead of the solution. Ways I’ve been a coward. A people pleaser. A crowd pleaser. Ways I’ve been acceptably Christian in many circles maybe, but not Christlike. Make no mistake. There can be a wide gulf fixed between those two things.

My entire identity has been steeped in the church. In a people, not bricks and mortar. Started serving the church in 6th grade when I’d graduated out of VBS and began helping the grown ups. Church has been good to me, a harbor amid the stormy unstable home life of my upbringing. I have no horror stories about church. I’ve known love, acceptance, forgiveness, grace and growth in each congregation and never loved a church more than the one I’m presently part of. I can’t imagine life without church. I will serve it till I die.

But my identity is having to be reshaped in Christ alone. He alone cannot change. He alone remains unswayed. He alone is Savior. He alone can take the pressure of being adored. Everyone else we set up high is just another Humpty Dumpty waiting to fall.

I am sanguine to the bone. I love a group. I love my friends. I love my associates. I love familiarity. I love knowing what to expect and getting it. I love being able to fill in a sentence like this with confidence: I am a ____________________.

But the only label I know for certain I want to wear is this one: Jesus-follower. I want to go with Jesus. When pilgrimage gets to be a group fare, fabulous. Nothing is more fun to me. But when pilgrimage with Him requires more aloneness or more traversing with unfamiliar sojourners who make me feel awkward, that has to be just fine, too.

I want to do people good. I want to go to those margins where people need the gospel most. I want to love. Sacrifice. Wrestle. Change. I don’t just want to go where I feel like I belong. I just want to go where Jesus points.

Months into this ridiculous identity crisis, it turns out I didn’t lose as many friends or as much community as I feared. But what I lost was my naivety.

Good riddance I guess. Good but hard riddance.

I want to be brave for the sake of the gospel. Too much is at stake and too many people dying and suffering to take the cheap route. This was meant all along to cost us something.

Maybe fitting isn’t the point. The fact is, we don’t fit here. We fit someplace we’ve never been. Maybe the holes we feel in our lives aren’t all supposed to be filled. Let them sit there awhile and ache. Let them sit there awhile and speak. Maybe they’ve got something to say.

 

 

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420 Responses to “The Identity Crisis of My Life”

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  1. 251
    Pam Burkham says:

    Precious Beth,

    It seems many of us who follow you are going through difficult times. Thank you for being authentic, real, transparent, truthful. There are people we love dearly and who love us but Satan is working against us both to steal, kill and destroy. I pray you and these others can restore your relationship but the Bible teaches “as far as it is possible with you”. Christian friendships that change seem more hurtful. I ache with you and pray for you and thank God for you. We know none of us is perfect save our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. You are loved.

  2. 252
    Cassandra Moton says:

    Beth,
    I’m a Pastor’s wife, Children’s Pastor, mother of 3, half Mexican, grew up in Canada and the US, married to a black man and many other things. But, above all, I am a Christ follower. This year has shaken me to my core. Navigating it for myself, with my husband and for our girls has been the hardest thing we’ve had to do. The world we live in today is not what I thought it was a year ago. I hear words of hate, but more than that our the words and feelings of superiority. It has forced me to look at myself and ask God to show me where I have these feelings in me. And oh my goodness – does God answer prayer! I have had to admit that I marginalize people everyday. The world has to change, but I have to change myself first and look at my own sin. I have to change … always a work in progress. If you have not read Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson), or Blood Brothers (Elias Chacour) YOU MUST! These books have helped me to open my eyes about why we are where we are today, and have intensified my heart beat of love and peace. Thank you so much for all you do! I love your bible studies – they have each challenged me in different ways and have impacted me in more ways than I could ever express. I feel a sisterhood to you my friend! Keep doing what God is placing on your heart. God Bless you beloved child of God. Cassandra

    • 252.1
      Wendy says:

      Love and unity, Cassandra.
      I had my son read Just Mercy a year or so back because I was worried that, as white Christian male in America, he was in danger of missing what it’s really all about. On top of this I have a 12 year old black daughter. I know I don’t need to say more. I appreciate your conviction in speaking out.
      Wendy

  3. 253
    Carrie says:

    Beth,
    I have done your studies and read your Twitter feed often. I feel the same. I, too have always belonged, really maybe too much. The last few years have been a time of really finding out who I am in Christ and who He is to me. I don’t feel I belong alot of the time but I am becoming more accepting and even glad of that. A few months ago, I wouldn’t have sent this to you but after hearing Brandon Heath at a concert say how he needs encouragement too, it reminded me, we are all in this together. Your post is such an encouragement and reminder to me that we shouldn’t belong in this world and that we are going to disappoint ourselves and be disappointed in others. And your statement about being acceptably Christian but not always Christlike cut me to the bone. So true of me and my life. Thank you for being honest and transparent, so encouraging. Blessings in your ministry and being that true Jesus follower.
    Carrie

    • 253.1
      Tammy says:

      Carrie and Beth, you both have echoed my hearts journey over the past few years. The Lord leads on, and I’m thankful for “sisters” who remind us that we are never alone. There is nothing new under the sun. Thank you both for sharing. God bless you both!

  4. 254
    Pam Luschei says:

    Thank you Beth, for giving words to “the thing” that is there, but never talked about. By being totally vulnerable and transparent to the core, you gave a voice to what I, and many of us have felt, but never knew what to do with it. Loved your last paragraph, letting it sit there and be, amidst the ache , allowing ourselves to “be in it” and seeing it more clearly. I have worked hard for years to make my identity in Jesus alone, among the church culture of
    labels, roles, and people pleasing. I’ve even taught a women’s Sunday School class on “developing a Biblical self image”. I feel different and “weird” at times, because I don’t fit in the ways others seem to. The truth is it feels “weird” to be different and not fit it, when you begin this process and journey toward your true identity. You have helped countless of us to remember who we are in Christ; loved, adored, delighted in. and always remembering “that’s the real deal”….Our Abba Father loves us and we do belong to Him alone.

  5. 255
    Lisa Riley says:

    Beth,

    I am on this journey right with you! There are days when I feel hopeless! Thankfully, God doesn’t allow me stay in hopelessness for long! His living Word is my solace. “I have told you these things, so that you may have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

    So, we must forge ahead by the leading of the Spirit, sometimes leaving familiar spaces in order to run the race set before us. I continue to remind myself that He has chosen us for such a time as this! May we keep our eyes and hearts focused on Him and may we always remember that our true identity is found in Christ alone!

  6. 256
    Brenda Bowman says:

    Yep. If all our holes were filled and our longings satisfied, we wouldn’t be so anxious to see Him…be with Him. And I do so long to be with Him. Glory.

  7. 257
    Nancy says:

    Hi Beth,
    Thanks for this. I have been going through a major identity crisis of faith, no actually not faith, but religion this year as well. I started following your tweets and they have been a spark of hope amidst a world of doubt. Please keep on being real, real Jesus that is. I am sure I am not the only one who feels lost, who is not able to unsee and who needs these words of encouragement. Praise God I can now say “we are in this together” we are not alone.
    Nancy

  8. 258
    Debra says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am literally in tears reading this as it so echos my experience. I cannot imagine going thru it publicly.

    Thank you for being true to Christ and for continuing to be someone who I can respect and feel safe learning from. Thank you for your courage to speak what is right and true when it is easier, more comfortable, and more profitable not to.

    I am praying for you and am excitedly anticipating your simulcast in September.

  9. 259
    Cassie Walker says:

    Beth I seriously just went through this same experience a year beginning last July-March. I’m Still struggling with not having to belong but being totally satisfied in Christ. I too want to be willing to Go WHEREVER He calls, with whomever, wherever! Wisdom, guidance, grace, power and discernment dear sister!

  10. 260
    Ashley says:

    Yes! Right after the election I had a recurring dream: I was walking in a sandy field and a black, oily sludge kept seeping up from the ground. At the time I thought it meant that we were entering a time of profound evil. And while some of that is true, I feel that it has been revealed that Spirit is doing a work if calling up and calling out and sloughing away the dross. What was hidden underneath – the blackness inside me and others, is not staying hidden. It’s painful but essential. I believe God is saying “Enough!” No more saying and doing things in his name that are, as you said “Christian but not Christ-like”

  11. 261
    Sondra Lockard says:

    Beth, One of the things I have always admired and loved you is that you are never afraid to “tell it like it is”. Your ability to open up and lay your feelings out there has really helped many of us when we face trials of our own. God has blessed you mightily and you have allowed Him to speak through you. As God guides you through this season just know that He will walk with you and make your way clear. Blessings dear sister!

  12. 262
    Kathy M says:

    Thank you for not being afraid to be real and to share this season with your sisters. You and God have made a huge difference in so many lives. I thank God for you and for your dedication and sacrifice in order to reach women’s hearts. Who knows how many have gone on to follow in your footsteps to help effect change in other women? Sometimes we get so involved in our own ministries that we forget for a brief time there are those who need our prayers. Dear lady, I will be praying for you and continue to thank God for you and your ministry. We are all in this together.

  13. 263
    Martie Carter says:

    My husband and I have served in military chapels for 33 years. We are always a group of people from every conceivable background. It’s impossible to ever feel like we ever fit in anywhere, except to know that we we are a piece of the puzzle in place for the moment. The picture is constantly changing. Hellos and goodbyes and see you laters are the norm. I’ve always described it as serving on a raft in the middle of a river in class 4 rapids. Nothing ever stays the same. People don’t, chaplains don’t, nothing does. It’s still the church, because it’s still God’s people. We’ve tried local churches, but so often they don’t need us, don’t talk to us for weeks after we come, we don’t fit in to the box. Most of the time, we have no idea what the box looks like or what we are missing. When I think about it and I pray about it, I am reminded as you have been that we will never fit in here. Heaven is our home and our reason for breathing is to take as many people with us as we can. You do that well, and you disciple women from every background. Thanks for that. God Bless. Martie Carter

  14. 264
    Carol graham says:

    Wow, just wow! That sounds like what I’ve been going through. I’ve had to realize some things talked to friends, came away distanced from some, feeling like I just had to get away from everything, alone with just me and God… pray, read my Bible and I’ve come away knowing He’s incontrol and though people will disappoint/leave/hurt you He never will. He loves me and He always has, always will….and He didn’t bring me this far to drop me now!

  15. 265
    Anna says:

    Oh, Beth…. I feel you so deeply on this, sister.

    I’ve so appreciated your boldness on some very controversial issues, especially throughout this past year. It’s incredibly reassuring for those of us in the same frame of mind.

    Jesus commanded us to be KNOWN for our LOVE but I feel the majority of the American Church is more concerned for being known for our rules. Consequently, we’ve become best known for what we’re against.

    I think that’s what has been increasingly unsettling, displacing, and shocking to many of us. The actions, statements, silence, etc. of the majority of the Church has left us wondering, “WHERE. IS. THE. LOVE?”

    For much of American Church, love has almost become a bad word and has a connotation of a weakened or incomplete faith. Like loving God with our hearts, souls, minds and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves isn’t enough.

    Oh, God, may we be rooted in love, known for our love, because —

    Love covers a multitude of sins.

    Love never fails.

    Love casts out all fear.

    God IS love.

    And, anything done in His name without love, is just loud, disruptive noise.

    I’m with you — may my only label be that I’m a follower of Jesus….

    Praying for you, Beth…. Phil 1:3

  16. 266
    Gail Cole says:

    Conflict between what I’ve been and what I need to be has caused me to founder in the past few months. The more I read, the more I question. For me, this is a time to have strong faith. I wish I could hug you and reassure you God is helping you grow and that can be confusing. Hang in there and remember, regardless of crisis, you are a child of God.

  17. 267
    Linda Yanicheck says:

    Some times God moves the people around us, and it’s a bit painful. Remembering we are never alone thanking God for his gift of His Holy Sprit who pierces through the darkest places and bring the light. Heart Peace and LoVe to you Blessing.

  18. 268
    Judy Grieve says:

    Beth, thank you for sharing. I find myself out on a limb. But I know that on the great tree of life I must not be alone. I find that I need more the “the Christ” of Jesus than I do the human form. In the beginning was the Word and the Word… became flesh. I am in need of the “Word”, the essence of the The Christ, part of the trinity, to sustain my faith.

    I

  19. 269
    Ann Thiede says:

    I walked away from reading this with a lot to think and pray about. So much commotion in our world, our country. Such a pull to get on the defensive. I don’t want to do that. I just want to honor God. He’s made it pretty clear not to speak words publicly unless they are from Him. And as you’ve encouraged, not to post unless there is no quickening in my heart to hold back. Not to even begin to get on any kind of high horse. I just keep thinking of Jesus and how He loved people of all kinds and didn’t mince words with the religious. And how He just kept busy doing the Father’s will. I do not want to stray away from Him. Thank you for encouraging us through Entrusted to memorize 2 Timothy. So much in it relevant and helpful for here and now.

    You are a dear woman, a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master. I pray for you.

  20. 270
    Ann says:

    Dear Beth, I pray for your heart to be healed from wounds you have received. You are such a precious sister in Christ who has mentored me through your studies for years. My life is changed for the better because of you and your love relationship with Jesus. I take this opportunity to say a huge “thank you!” I am praying for you!
    Ann

  21. 271
    Cindy Hendren says:

    Dear Beth,
    Reading your blog -which I literally stumbled upon by accident yesterday- felt as though I’d just been thrown a lifeline in a very rough sea. I too have struggled with my “identity” the past year or so and I’ve felt withdrawn from my formerly very settled and comfortable existance. I was filled with a profound sense of not belonging anymore. I was troubled by the idea of “being” Christian feeling incongruent with Christ. I decided to run as fast and hard as I could to Jesus. What’s next? I don’t know. But I do like the direction I’m headed.

    Thank you for articulating your struggle with the rest of us. Your words have really helped me.

    Cindy

  22. 272
    beverly says:

    Wow – I feel like your feet just stepped onto the sidewalk in front of my childhood house! How did you know I was here – about 50 years back? My heart has been revisiting with purpose. I never expected to see Your feet outside the livingroom window.
    It feels like you put aside your robe of “belonging” to step into my world of “never belonged” in order to identify with me and call me to meet you on that square slab of cement. Sure sounds like something a King would do – and did! He put aside His Royal robes to put on humanity and reach us. You’re just like Him.
    Did He put you up to this? So that you could reach individuals He has yet to reach through you? Seems so to me.
    The “belonging” thing is only one way your sharing touched close to me, but lets save that conversation for out on the square…here or in Heaven.
    I just wanted you to know I love you, appreciate you, and I see you suffering the sufferings of Christ (He is wearing my “never belonged” robe too). And I wanted to say that I’m still in shock to see your feet here! Blessings! God – Bless You!

    • 272.1
      Manohla says:

      Beverly, beautifully said! You have keen insight like no other; a true gift. From one “never belonged” to another, but who is struggling with her faith/walk and wondering if she’ll ever find her place — thank you! I don’t feel like such an outsider after all.

      • Beverly says:

        Manohla,

        I just saw this now. Thank you for such a sweet reply!
        I can see by what you wrote what a Beautiful heart you have. Praying you finally find your place soon – maybe its just around the corner!

        Blessings!

  23. 273
    Arlene says:

    Thanks for having the courage to put into words what so many saints of God are struggling with in the depths of their soul. Very timely word! This world is not our home- help us Lord to get our sense of belonging from you and you alone!

  24. 274
    Teresa AnnElizabeth Shrader says:

    Dear Beth,
    I have always loved, admired, respected and looked up to you. Even though I am Catholic, it was your study and book of Breaking Free that God used to bring me back to him.
    Your honesty about your own childhood, allowed me to face and to begin the process of trying to forgive the youth minister who raped me at age 14.
    You showed me that after “the innocence and sacredness” is torn from you, you go on to make bad choices and you have to accept that as well to be forgiven and changed by Our Lord.
    I can’t begin to explain just how life changing this was for me! I still thank and praise God for sending you at the right moment.

    I follow or rather, “followed” your Twitter feed until the other day. It wasn’t what you said at all that upset me. It was feeling like I didn’t belong there with others who were trying to insist if I didn’t think or feel a certain way they were promoting, then I was in denial or willful sin. (As a Catholic, I didn’t realize how blessed I am to worship with people of all races, even in southwest Virginia)!

    All of us, if we feel any emotion at all, have felt so much sadness, anger, and division not just in our country but in the Body of Christ in the last week. One thing I know without a doubt – that the Holy Spirit is never the cause of confusion or division because Our Lord prayed fervently that we would always be one as He and The Father are one.

    I want to follow you on Twitter because you always inspire me to go further with Him and cling closer to Him. I’m just going to have to grow thicker skin or learn the true meaning of “turning the other cheek”. If we seek more prayer and alone time with Our Father, HE will guide us to a place of firmer ground. Just as you’ve always said, when the ground you are standing on starts to crumble, cling closer to Him.

    Much love and prayers for you

  25. 275
    Cheryl Weaver says:

    I am so sorry for what you are going through. You are the only one that I feel is a true believer and follower of Christ. I use to serve and be at my Church all the time. As time went on no matter what Church it was I was being let down by friends and staff more times then I’d care to remember. Because of my health I do not go anywhere anymore. Talk about feeling lost and not knowing why am I here. I don’t know anymore I get such a overwhelming feeling of loneliness. All those years I served and I sit hear alone. Where are all those friends and leaders of the places I’ve been, no one cares. I have my husband and my mother in the town I live other then them no one. I pray you will never have the feelings I have and will find comfort in those that are around you in this time of need. God Bless

  26. 276
    Vida says:

    I too am at this crossroads….a few solid tribal soul sisters but in general after 37 years of being his daughter I sense a disconnect, a sense He is moving me/ us elsewhere (us is my husband who became born again after praying for his salvation 26 years) anyway…as the Holy Spirit has reminded me I pray for you & Keith and family….
    Hebrews 11:8 is a promise I hold on too… Is this is me Lord or you.

  27. 277
    Valerie Geib says:

    I have been walking a very similar road of late myself. Everything I thought I knew was shaken, friends I trusted for close to 30 years became people I hardly recognized. I trusted them to be real with me and be my friends. One became family through the marrying of our children and became such a stranger that every group we shared became awkward-and there was not a single person I could share it with save Jesus and Him alone. He is enough.
    Here is what I know to be true about you, Beth. You love Jesus. You make me want to love Jesus like you do. None of us is perfect and we all make mistakes and sin. Even my friend, who has become such a stranger to me, loves Jesus. That is enough for me to put aside everything else and just love her. It is indeed a journey to become more Christlike. Hardly a day goes by that I am not incredibly grateful that you chose to be obedient and do women’s ministry. Thank you.

  28. 278

    My dear Beth
    Your words got me. God has been getting me- probably in a way like He has with you.
    Being close to age 65 (HORRORS), I cant believe how satan has lied and deceived so many who follow Jesus.
    And His Word has become a smorgasboard (sp?) to the millenials and the generation above it. Since when do we get to pick and choose what we believe is truth?
    Sunce when is the Bible not relevant in todays culture?
    As the Coordinator of Prayer and Resources for Young Life College/University, I read a ton. Some iof our younger sisters in Christ, are saying things that dont really line up with God’s Word.
    I have kept a silent lip- which is quite unusual for me, but with Charlottesville and Barcelona, I see so much hatred, that at 1 month shy of 65, I cant be quiet anymore.
    I will pray for and with you. I have lef many if your studies with my college gals. I know you seek only to honor and lift up the Name of Jesus.
    As you said, our goal is to: Follow Jesus.
    “FOLLOW ME”
    Keep clinging to the One who not only answers us but is ALWAYS THE ANSWER.
    SENDINGypu hugs and love.

  29. 279
    Karen says:

    I’ve been in one of the deepest, darkest pits of my life for almost 2 years now. I believe, I know God is Who He says He is. I know Jesus as my Savior. But I’ve felt so far from Him, so unable to reach Hin that I didn’t even recognize myself any more. And still yet, I served in several capacities at my church.
    I live with a walking, talking miracle. In 2015 my older brother had a car accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury (close to the brain stem, only about 30% of patients with his type of injury survive. Of those who do, less than 10% of that 30% is ever anywhere near themselves again. He also broke his neck and sustained a spinal cord injury. He had vocal cord paralysis, a feeding tube…by the grace of God above he can walk and talk today. But the strain of that on a marriage right at the point in time where the kids are grown? It was hard to adjust to. Even seeing God’s hand at work in my brother’s life, I still couldn’t seem to draw near to Him.
    Some very hurtful things happened at my church. Then someone who was very, very close to my family caused us a lot of grief. My oldest daughter was a very baby Christian. She was still growing into her faith, and still was wrestling with some of the worldly ideas she previously held. He verbally attacked her, quoted scripture at her that (while appropriate contextually) lacked love, gentleness, and a desire to teach, it was pure anger. The result? My daughter will no longer attend church.
    Then a very dear friend of mine and my husband’s took his own life.
    This has been a dark season, a time of temptation to just give up. A time of wondering where I went so wrong and if I even know what I think I know. I will say though, the past month, I can feel that things are improving in my spiritual life and I’m more thankful and grateful than words can express.
    Wow. I really did NOT mean to dump all that here. I only meant to express that I understand how we find ourselves in that place sometimes. May our Lord be with you Beth. We’ll both come out the other side stronger and wiser than we were going in.

  30. 280
    Sue Dickinson says:

    Never know where you will end up. Never planned to lead a Bible Study. Now 10 years later still there. Used many of your studies. Enjoyed everyone. Love Linda Zelenka.. Group is in 60,70 and 80. Thank you for your leadership and example. Love you and God continue to bless you and the studies.

  31. 281
    Chris Walker says:

    I know the odds are good you will never read this. So many comment on your blog, especially this one. Even now the words I want to say are heavy in my mouth but I am compelled repeatedly to say them. Here they are-“My Christian daughter is gay and married.” May you never know the profound isolation the church bestows on both me and my daughter. I have been judged, pitied, shunned and ignored. They stopped asking me to lead your Bible studies!! Friends have walked away and turned their backs. All this because I refused to “turn my child over to the devil”. I love her. I believe God spoke to me clearly during my devotion from John 9. I am “Believing God” as you taught me. He can do what He says He can do. In the meantime, I walk without my Christian brothers and sisters. We are a broken bunch aren’t we? We peck to death the weakest among us, those struggling, those who think differently or who are different, those trying. While we are on this same road for different reasons, we are walking side by side. I’m going to finish this race Believing God. I’m praying for you!

  32. 282
    Kristy Ford says:

    Dear Beth,
    Thank you for sharing your heart. You have encouraged me countless times, and I just pray that God could use my words to somehow return a glimpse of the blessing you have been to me. First, I just want to say that “I hear you” even though I don’t know you or can’t begin to imagine specifics. I don’t know how you arrived at your current crisis, but I do know that at the most unexpected times this feeling/awareness of “un-belonging” can hit (especially in leaders).I won’t explain my specifics, but throughout my life and ministry as a pastor’s wife and church planters wife (and I’m a sanguine too) I’ve experienced this gnawing feeling of being unknown and not fitting in very acutely in different seasons for a variety of reasons. The desire hardwired in me to intimately know God and be known by Him can also drive me to search for a person or people group that I feel at home with, loved by, understood and deeply known. In hindsight, sometimes people or people groups didn’t have the capacity to know me like I wanted to be known and when that reality hit the fan it couldn’t help but be disappointing and then I have looked back over time’s shoulder to question if I had invested in some faithful others along the way more, would I have gotten a better return for my efforts? It aches to be in that place. Constant change is part of my life and God has used it over and over again to draw me to Him, to create a desperation in me that sent me searching in new ways and new places for Him. I would love to settle and flourish somewhere with a group of people where I feel I belong, but as I “go” for Christ it leaves little room for this to truly happen. At 46, I have never been so comforted by the fact that Heaven is for eternity and I’ll get to stay in one place for “a pair of minutes” ☺ and belong forever there. I know when I ache the way you described, what part of that I do get, that God’s reminding me I’ll never feel “at home” on this earth. There no completely perfect person, people group, community, denomination (though some are closer than others ☺) church or political affiliation. The same thing that sent me searching for Him (looking for the perfect relationship) at 17 is the same thing He still uses to remind me that no person or people group can ever replace. For a while I may feel as much of a connection as possible with others, but it seems like there’s always a reality check where I feel unsettled again and it causes me to pick up any wrongly placed security and put it right back in front of Him. Praise God I never have to feel awkward with Him. Praise God for the joy He does bring through our connection with others along the way too. I don’t know if any of this will speak to you, but at least just know I care and I’ll be praying for you about this through this season.

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    Meredith Buchanan says:

    Beth,
    God has moved me two times in my life from a period of belonging to unbelonging that I can really say firmly that it was Him as the other times were passages in life. One time was after 20 years and another time after 8 years. Five years later I am still in the position of unbelonging but have faith that He will provide that belonging again, but each time I have grown deeper in my relationship with Him where true belonging is the only thing that really matters. i can serve in freddom. I will rejoice in giving God the glory when it is all revealed. I know you will too!
    Meredith

  34. 284
    Felicia says:

    Beth, I am a 46 year old Pastors kid who has just left the ministry I have been doing for the last 28 years. My husband and 18 year old son and I have just moved from our home state of California to New Mexico and I feel a bit lost. I know that that season of my life is over but what to do now? I haven’t had to church hunt in over 30 years and have no idea where to begin. It’s an uncomfortable place to be…not knowing anyone. But I do know this, HE NEVER CHANGES! He can do something amazing in this new season. I’m just waiting patiently for Him to show the way.
    Blessings on you in this new journey.
    I am determined to find joy in every step!

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    LaKesa says:

    Wow! Just….Wow. I thought it was just me. I’ve never felt so absolutely alone. Lonely. In a Bible class full of wonderful Christian women, but I’m trying to decide if I’m ever going back because of loneliness. Thank you for sharing. ” Maybe the holes aren’t supposed to be filled.” That’s good enough for me. Because the one thing I’m dead on sure of, is that I am a Jesus follower. I love Jesus.

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    DJ says:

    Beth,
    I’ve been dealing with something similar except it’s with my family of origin. It has been odd, unusual and I just don’t know how to navigate it. I relate to a lot of what you said and feel almost like trying to protect myself. I am wrestling with trust issues and wondering where I belong. Thank you for being real. Prayers if you don’t mind.

  37. 287
    LENORA says:

    Beth, up until I read this I never attended any of your workshops because I didn’t think I’d ever measure up to the women who flocked behind you. But today, reading this my heart hurt for you and rejoiced for you. You touched on the very thing that has caused me to take a good long look at myself and Be Still. I tried so hard to belong and then when I stopped trying and just let God belong in me, things made perfect sense. Your post made sense to me, too, and I finally got it!

    Thank you!!

  38. 288
    Marion Hazzard says:

    I’ve read many of the comments posted in response to your very transparent and raw account of this leg of your personal journey. You are a courageous woman, a courageous warrior, and a fragile soul searching as we all are for the purest, most authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. And that relationship being your true definition of self.
    I am a square peg. I have always been a square peg. I was not raised in the church, I came to know Christ after making a complete mess of my life.
    I couldn’t see how I could possibly belong to and a body of believers that had such a rich history of growing up in the faith. Yet one woman, saw my pain and despair, reached out to me as a single parent trying to fit into a church full of perfect looking families. Married couples that have done it right and there I was trying to find a way to belong. And even worse, while still in a state of repair, I knew that I was called,, I just couldn’t believe or envision how Christ could use a life as messed up as mine. I was sure if these perfect Christian families, these well put together Christian women, learned what a hard edged feminist pro abortion activist I had been they would toss me out.

    I was a square peg and there’s no cure for that. But this woman of God reached out to me and told me that I was not created to fit in. Instead, God had created me to stick out. And though I didn’t feel like I fit in, there was no doubting that I belonged. The story of my redemption is not what needs to be told at this time, and this place. I just wanted to encourage you that when we are called out to public ministry the way that you are, we are rarely afforded the luxury of fitting in. We belong because this is the body of Christ, and it is where he calls us to live shoulder to shoulder with one another. The Beth, with all your charm and your wit, the truth be told, you are also a square peg. The definition of who you are is a Christ follower. You were created to stick out. Lord knows He has plenty of people who are content to fit in. But you, you were created to stick out (and it can be lonely).

    I don’t know that I’ve added much to this conversation, but you’ve impacted my life, you revitalized a dried up discouraged and broken servant of the King. I want you to know that and that I am forever grateful that I stumbled upon your study of James. It helped remind me who I am. I am first and always, a Christ follower.

  39. 289

    How this resonates with me today! I have been struggling too but didn’t have a name for it. Identity fits and gives new perspective. Thank you for naming it and boldly stating what you’ve been walking through. There are so many hard and important issues being wrestled with and put forth that the more I walk in God’s truth, the farther I feel from others, even at times, from dear friends in Christ. His path is narrow, and can feel lonely and isolating, although I tend to perceive the worst and isolate in my introverted way more than I believe He would have me to.

    The blessing is this: the more I feel out of place, the more I seek His face and try to find more of Him to be sure I am believing and doing as He asks. And although often it can feel lonely and without a place to truly belong, He reveals more of Himself, which eventually drives me to others with more love and desire to be in unity of the Spirit.

    As long as we keep seeking Him in these moments of identity crisis, He is faithful to increase our love and desire to be with Him now and in eternity and I think you are right, to reaffirm that this world is not our home. If we get to comfortable here, I think we lose some urgency and effectiveness for Him. I can’t wait to see what God does with this current struggle in you and how He shows you in a deeper and tangible way how He loves you, accepts you, and that the only identity you need is His beloved daughter. Oh, how He loves you!

    I need to believe He is weeding out the identities in us that are no good to Him to give a more true understanding of who He says we are. Thank you for your honesty and faithfulness to Him.

  40. 290
    Jenny says:

    I have felt this identity crisis. I grew up in church. My parents lived in it. Then I got sick…was diagnosed with ALS last year with symptoms onset in August and they drove the church bus and taught the Sunday School class…and left me to hire 24×7 help. Then they abandoned me completely. And I was left alone to fight fo my life. And it made me rethink Christianity versus Christ like. And leadership versus leading. And parents versus parenting. And love versus loving.

  41. 291
    Lisa Worthington says:

    Love you sweet friend. Thank you for sharing. I am grateful to God for bringing you into my life. I fell in love with Jesus sitting at my table working on Bible studies you wrote. Thank you for awakening that desire to know Him, and love His Word. Thank you for sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. I hope one day we can have coffee. Most likely when we are home. <3 It's gonna be good!

  42. 292
    Laine says:

    Beth, this is such blessed wisdom carved from experience. Vulnerability always breaks the chains of every stronghold that tries to rob us of our God given identity. Having walked through a similar journey to yours that started for me in my personal life 2 years ago and again in the last year in our Church, I’m deeply encouraged to read your journey, especially on how to finish strong…I have learnt much this past two years and still continue to learn; about me, the body of Christ, God and people and am so grateful for the revelations and growth through it all. The most important thing I’ve learnt is this: God is who He says He is and our focus must be on eternity. Ultimately if we purpose to please people, we will forfeit our focus on our Father. Love is the only way and Love always wins.

  43. 293
    Karelin says:

    Thank you, Beth. I have followed you and studied God’s word with you for years. I feel like you’re my sister. And over the last 3 years I have been experiencing the same thing. I find myself too “pagan” for my conservative friends and family, and too much a Jesus freak for others. I don’t want to use the label Christian anymore because of its association with hated, bigotry and political agendas. I call myself a Jesus follower. That’s it. There is a sifting happening in the church. May we be found faithful.

  44. 294
    Lisa C. says:

    I love what you said. Maybe those holes are not meant to be filled here. Those of us who claim Jesus as our own Savior, we do not fit in here.
    The spiritual battle is raging on around us. If (no, when) God pulls the rug out from under us, There literally is nothing to grab onto here… that in itself causes an identity crisis. It forces us to identify with our Lord, who hung on the cross and cried “MY GOD, MY GOD WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
    And praise God, He will never forsake us.

  45. 295
    Susie Hoffmann says:

    Beth, thank you for this post. I struggle with not fitting in. I struggle with the alone time God has gifted me. Thank you for showing your struggles. It helps me more determined than ever to follow Jesus and not worry about what others think.

  46. 296
    Wendy Watros says:

    Beautiful vulnerbility, Beth. Love this. For anyone dealing with unresolved trauma, something that creates dissociated voids- “holes” in us and triggered reactions to people, I recommend working with a Christian therapist who utilizes EMDR.

    What once debased you, especially abuse from parents or siblings, will be transformed from within. How fearfully and wonderfully are we.

    ❤️ Wendy

  47. 297
    Abraham's Daughter says:

    I have read this again and again. Thank you for giving words to my rambling thoughts that Jesus didn’t ask me to fit in. He asked me to belong to Him and to be thankful for finding others whose heart’s desire is to know Him and love Him.

  48. 298
    Katie says:

    I believe this is happening in the c(C)hurch because what “acceptable” or “Western cultural” Christianity is or has been is not what Christianity really is. We’ve accepted a lot of ideas about the Bible that are not Biblical… meaning, we’ve accepted “meanings” that aren’t what God means. I believe Western Christianity has been (at least for a long time) a sort of new-Judaism, Neojudaism if you will. Dos and don’ts. Yeses and nos. What WE can accomplish with “His help”. But this is not the Christ-life. Christianity is a Person in people. Divine inside cursed dirt. He Himself doing all the things. Living in us. Annulling that curse on the dirt. Giving freedom from slavery. Freedom from the curse. THIS is the REVOLUTION of Christianity that began some 2k years ago. The tides are shifting. Nearing to real Christianity. You’re proof of it. This “crisis” is good fruit of it! As the shift begins, the growing pains are felt. Resistance to change always happens. But press on mighty woman of God. Press into Him. Find out all it means to be “in Christ”. The change must come. It’s going to be glorious! But pain first… For ALL of us shifting away from cultural/acceptable Christianity… to the real LIVING Christ! This is going to be the best–most AMAZING and WONDERFUL–thing that’s ever happened to us!

  49. 299
    Laurie Bennett says:

    When I read your words, I read my prayer journal. You articulated my heart.

    A mourning rests on my heart, and I can’t figure it out. It is blurry. I don’t have words to properly express what I am watching within our Church, and the leadership and the messages and the direction. I am fidgety and unrested. I have toiled all year. ‘Teams’ I once followed, I find myself now silently resisting the direction they are pointing. —- And I am a “friend of birds.” (Loved your camping testimony) I love the church. Hugs to you and your team. May God reveal.

  50. 300
    S.A. Gist says:

    I got to meet with a special group of believers last week and someone shared how powerfully bright the Lord is shining in you and through you with stunning mysteries far out of your control for His glory. We were all so encouraged and inspired, because that’s where so many of us are. Done with status quo religion, but not sure where to go. I’m praying for you. You are so loved, especially by our Abba.

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