I have not written an article in over a year. My keyboard has been silent. My brain has been busy with work during the day and too lazy after 5 o’clock to sit down and be creative. The thing is, a year and a half ago I would have told you I was a writer. My calling was to write. After all, I have seven novels sitting in nice, neat folders on my desktop and pages of unpublished article ideas.
But what do you do when you’re a writer who can barely string 140 characters together for a tweet? What happens when your calling falls on its face and refuses to be resurrected? For an entire year. No stories. No blog posts. No articles. Nothing.
You learn that your identity is not bound up in your calling. You learn that you need Jesus.
For as long as I can remember I have identified myself with the things that I do: writer, artist, daughter, sister, cook, animal-lover, travel enthusiast, sugar addict etc. But in this past year, I’ve come to realize we are so much more than our calling, so much more than the hobbies we have or the achievements we put on our résumés. What exactly do I mean?
Your identity is where you find worth. Your calling is where you find work.
We usually identify ourselves by outward circumstances or accomplishments. The problem with this is when our circumstances change or our accomplishments flat line. Then what? What are we left with?
I am a wife—until the marriage disintegrates in divorce.
I am an athlete—until the injury sidelines me for life.
I am a businessman—until the business tanks and I’m jobless.
The problem with this is each of the labels we give ourselves is based on our performance. Am I a good daughter? Good at my job? Good at art? We quickly become trapped in a cycle of “good enough,” especially when we feel called by God to whatever we are pursuing. When we sense God’s call, suddenly our efforts quadruple and our ego inflates. This is what God’s called us to, so we better be the best. (And this is true to some extent; working toward excellence is a good goal. As long as that excellence doesn’t become the root of your confidence or where you find value.)
Our identity and value needs to be rooted in Christ and should simply be: I am a loved child of God. There are no qualifiers for this. I cannot be more loved if I perform better. I cannot be more covered by His blood if I try harder. I cannot be more free in His grace if I try more. I am simply loved. The beauty of finding our identity in Christ is that our identity is always secure because it’s not grounded in our efforts, but based on the perfect performance of our Savior.
We never have to worry about if we are good enough, measuring up or impressing people because we are secure in Jesus. As Steven Furtick says, “Your identity is secure and completely intact. Because in Christ, who you are matters infinitely more than anything you do.”
When our identity is found in Jesus, we are free to find meaning in the mundane. This is the gift of Christianity: We have purpose regardless of our roles. When each interaction, each task, each relationship is defined by love, then each moment has eternal meaning. Your identity is not in your work. Your worth is not in your performance. Your value is not in your calling.
At the same time, don’t give up on your calling. If you are in a season of life that seems meaningless or feels unfulfilling, don’t despair. God has not abandoned you, He placed those desires in your heart for a reason. Be faithful. Be patient. And after a while, the words will come back, the ideas will begin to flow, the creativity will return.
It’s all about balancing being faithful to God’s call and yet realizing God’s love for you is not contingent on your performance or your success. Your calling was never meant to save you. It was never meant to save the world. Only Jesus can do that.