A Quick Note:
Hi there, dear friends! We know that some of you have noticed that our March posts have been arriving in your inboxes a little differently this month, and we wanted to let you know that we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled posting when April arrives! After more than six years of blogging here at (in)courage, we thought we’d celebrate our book club and give our regular writers a “spring break” of sorts in March. One of our favorite things to do at (in)courage is hear from members of our community, so even if you aren’t reading Fervent along with us, we hope you’ll enjoy meeting some new friends — and seeing some familiar faces — on these pages as we spend this month together in prayer. We’re so grateful for you, for your grace and encouragement and loyalty to us here in this corner of the internet.
Strategy 3: Your Identity (pages 55-70)
What My “Big Chop” Taught Me about My Identity in Christ
A few years ago, in an act known as the Big Chop, I cut all the chemicals out of my hair. I went cold turkey and made a clean break from the chemicals and pressing combs used to straighten my hair and force it to comply to a standard for which it has not been created. It was a big move, and it left me with just a fuzz of hair and a feeling that my head was on display in a world that might not treat it so kindly.
Over time, my hair began to grow back. It has taken its time, and I had to learn how to care for my natural hair as it grew in. For decades, I had subjected my hair to hair-straightening rituals that made my tight coils lay flat to my scalp and blow in the breeze. But that is not the way my hair was created by God to behave. My hair grows in tight coils that shrink when wet, but can also be twisted and cornrowed and picked out into a gigantic afro. I was missing all of this when I kept trying to make my hair be something it isn’t. I now know something I wish I’d been able to see, many years before: What God did when He chose my hair for me, is really quite stunning.
What we do with our hair is a personal choice. Whether we choose chemical straighteners or braids or weaves or wigs or bald heads or finger waves is not the point. What is the point, is embracing the person God has created you to be. Priscilla Shirer states it like this as she introduces us to “Your Identity: Remembering Who You Are,” the third prayer strategy in her book:
“If I were your enemy, I’d devalue your strength and magnify your insecurities until they dominate how you see yourself, disabling and disarming you from fighting back, from being free, from being who God has created you to be. I’d work hard to ensure that you never realize what God has given you so you’ll doubt the power of God within you.
You were created by God, exactly the way you are, on purpose. He is not surprised or disappointed by you. The enemy would like nothing more than to have you try to force yourself into a false expectation of what’s acceptable, the same way I did with my hair. But God is calling each of us to step into the person He created us to be, and to pray from that vantage point.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: When we begin celebrating the person God created us to be — not boastfully or pridefully, but as worship to God — we honor Him with our praise of His good creation. My relationship with my kinky, curly, coil-y hair has served as a gateway to claiming my true identity in Christ. For you, it may be something different. But know that God wants us to be confident in the person He made us to be, approaching Him boldly and clearing space for His great love and plan for our lives.
For Friday, read Strategy 4: Your Family (pages 71-92)
And sign up to watch Friday’s live chat!
What truth do you need to wrap around yourself today? Do you view your weaknesses and flaws as the sum total of who you are, or do you see them, as Priscilla said on page 65 “the part that is primed to display God’s glory”?
Deidra is a national speaker and writer who works to build bridges and tear down the walls that divide us — in our culture, our neighborhoods, our hearts, and the Church. Engage the conversation with Deidra and her community at her website, DeidraRiggs.com, each month at incourage.me, or @deidrariggs on Instagram (her favorite) and Twitter, and follow on Facebook. Deidra is the author of Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are.
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Ann Marie says
Today I need to hear & know the truth that God accepts me exactly as I am, I don’t need to be perfect. I have to see myself as God sees me.
Yes and amen.
very beautiful post.
I can so relate as I did the big chop back in 2009.
Just a day or so ago, I read something in the Bible that totally stunned me and that is this:
Job 12:3 But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you:…
In this society, people are made to feel inferior for hair reasons, skin color reasons and socio-economic reasons as well as a ton of other reasons.
When I saw that verse, I was blown away like “Where have you been all my life?”
That verse is the truth that I want to wrap my head around living in this society.
Remember no matter who you are or what your ethnicity or nationality is, God simply sees just you. He wants you to be true to yourself, because you are an expression of Him. Don’t let society put you in a box. ..as God’s children we must live outside of the box. Be Blessed always!
Thanks for the encouragement, Graham. So often, this is easier said than done, isn’t it? Images of what makes for a beautiful or acceptable home or dress size or marital status or children’s behavior can keep our heads spinning, from one day to the next. It’s true. We are called to live outside the box, and to let others live outside of it, too.
Yes! It’s a challenge to live in the tension between the kingdom of this world (society) and the Kingdom of God (which is increasingly present). The way society often works is through systems that vaunt status or power or perceived beauty or language or, well, the list goes on and on, doesn’t it? Thank goodness we can be free from that, even while living in a culture that would tell us differently. And, in our freedom, we can strive to change the systems that work against individuals and groups of people. It is for freedom that we have been set free.
I’m a pleaser, I want to make people happy and I want them to like me. About a month ago, when I first started reading Fervent, I was praying and telling God that I just want to please Him. He told me, “You are already pleasing to me.” Like a lot of women, I struggle with that and with being enough. So I’m busy trying on new hobbies, ministries, diets, friends, etc trying to do those things. But He’s gently reminding me that I’m enough and I’m pleasing.
Kristy- I can understand what you are saying. Recently, I spent a lot of time thinking of ways I can “do better” for God. I was almost in a state of mental panic, thinking am I doing enough? praying enough? reading His word enough? I’m not getting this right….I’m totally off the course…God wants so much more from me….how will I find the time……
And then one day, it was as if He gently spoke to me and said, “Relax. You’re fine. As a matter of fact, you’re doing a little bit better than you think you are. It’s enough. You’re enough. You’re getting this right.” I felt myself breath a sigh of relief and relax after that. I then understood that when I give Him what I have – be it a lot of time or a little time, depending on the demands of my day – He is pleased with what I give. God’s not measuring my life by the clock, but rather by my willing inclusion of Him into all of my day, every day.
That’s it exactly!
Yes. Just as you are. Exactly as you are.
Thank you. And by the way, you’re beautiful. 🙂
Michele Morin says
It never really occurred to me to color my hair when it started turning gray really fast back in my late thirties, so it surprises me when I get comments that feel like non sequiturs — because I forget that I’m gray!
“So . . . when did you stop coloring?” (I had 2 preschoolers the first time I got asked that question, and I still “colored” all the time with them!)
No judgment intended in my sharing this. For lots of women, changing their hair color gives them a needed boost. For me, though, it would just feel like one more self-maintenance job that I don’t want to be chained to.
When I first cut off my hair, I started coloring it, with henna. I don’t recommend that. It made my hair dry and coarse. But then I thought, “I HAVE to keep coloring because…the line of demarcation! Gasp!” But my daughter has encouraged me to let the gray grow in, and I just made an appointment to get the rest of the henna cut out. So, here’s to gray hair being a crown of glory! Cheers!
I love your gray!
It was so powerful to read that passage about what the enemy is doing to us – making us feel like less no matter who we are. I often struggle with feeling like an outsider. I also struggle with being introverted, although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with introverts. 🙂 I admit to wishing I could be more extroverted, one of those people who can easily enter a room or a conversation and seem to naturally fall into place. Instead, I need to focus on my strengths and why God has blessed me with the qualities of an introvert. What does He intend for me to do?
I live with someone who asks the same questions of themselves daily. You are wise to focus on your strengths and recognize that you have many, and seek to find how God would use how He made you. You will shine in many areas that others cannot, and God will show you these things as you journey with Him.
Thank you, Beth!
From one introvert to another: Yes, yes, yes!
All the enemy really needs to do is plant a seed of doubt, and I find I’ve got enough of my own material in my head to finish the job of tearing myself apart. Let’s encourage one another with an OATH: Only Adjectives That Help/Heal. When we talk about ourselves, to ourselves, let’s use the words Jesus would use. And let’s not let our girlfriends speak badly about themselves, either.
Jodi Koepke says
Hello fellow introvert! I can definitely relate and have been on a similar journey of embracing that part of me as God made for a purpose. I’ve slowly been discovering that purpose. I pray you do too.
Thank you, Jodi!
I am in tears, this is beautiful and exactly what I needed reminding of. In the last year, I have been so depressed, fighting a long illness and losing a job I held for over 18 years. My identity is not in my weakness, my set backs or failures. I must trust God, his plan for my life and love all of me!
Oh my goodness! You’ve been through a difficult time, Heather! I’m so sorry! I’m praying you feel the closeness of God in this season of your journey. You are not alone, and you are deeply loved.
the most important thing you said for me today “God is not disappointed in me!”
Amen to that!
Pamela Stewart Sarver says
The truth I need to learn is stop concentrating on my outward appearance and concentrate on my inward appearance. What I am on the outside does not define who I am on the inside. If I start applying the Word of God to my life my worries about my outward appearance will decrease because the love of God will be flowing out of my to the Glory of God.
Yes. the more we enjoy God — above all — the more our anxieties about ourselves decrease and the more love we have to share with the world.
no surprise here, I love you. This is a powerful and necessary statement in our embracing our perfect, natural beauty, IMAGO DEI. It is time for each of us to be restored to whom we were created to be in Him. LOVE THIS. LOVE YOU. Thanks for being such a beautiful and necessary voice. May God continue to write your message on our hearts.
Sarah Jo Burch says
Ephesians 2:10 keeps coming up in my life… for the longest time I was bombarded with the message that everything about me was wrong and needed to be fixed. The reminder that I’m designed for a purpose is one I constantly need.
Beth Williams says
“If I were your enemy, I’d devalue your strength and magnify your insecurities until they dominate how you see yourself, disabling and disarming you from fighting back, from being free, from being who God has created you to be.” That paragraph has been me for many years. I would try something or help someone and it not work out right. The devil would quickly whisper “dumb, stupid, not good enough”. Sure enough I believed it!! Now I know better. I am wiser to his tactics. When those thoughts come to me I stand firm and tell him to get behind me and leave this house immediately you are not welcome here!!
Lisa Torres says
The truth I need to hear today is that God is not disappointed in me and that His power lives in me despite my flaws. Lately, I have been overwhelmed with the feeling of failure and inadequacy. If I was a turtle, I would stick my head in my shell and not come out for awhile LOL…God in His infinite love and mercy is not allowing that to happen. He is opening my eyes to the truth through this study, my church family, prayer and the Holy Spirit convicting me. Time to live the truth which is that we have the victory through Christ Jesus!
God loves you & all your flaws. Your flaws are the very things that make you the beautiful, unique woman that you are. &…oh…the things that He can do with those imperfections that we have. God can take them & turn them into something beautiful.
Beth Williams says
You are a beautifully created Child of God. Crafted in His image! His love for you is infinite!!! Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is near. He is might to save He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing”. God rejoices over and delights in us!
Michelle Peden Vasquez says
This chapter was especially important to me because as long as I can remember I have always felt “less than”. And always told by people that I was different and not good enough. I still have to constantly remind myself that I was not a mistake and that God created me on purpose with a purpose. He sees me differently than the world sees me and I try to remember that my true identity is in Christ!
Jodi Koepke says
A continuing journey of figuring out who I really am (rather than who I’ve tried to make myself to fit in) and embracing that. God has brought me ao far with it already but there are always lies waiting to attack. I love Zephaniah 3:17 and other verses talking about God delighting in us and being pleased with us. I also go back to verses talking about being holy and blameless before God. And of course Psalm 139. I have made the choice not to colour my hair as I go increasingly grey now, more because of the hassle and cost but also because I’ve seen the cage it becomes for some women. It still challenges me when I look in the mirror though. Thankful for who God made me and loving seeing his plans unfold.
The truth that I need to wrap around myself today is this verse, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Eph 2:10). Understanding that I am His workmanship, created with thought and intentional detail, prepared since the beginning of time, to walk upright in Christ Jesus, for the good works of His Kingdom. When I absorb that, I truly understand that the enemy has no stand against my destiny in Christ. There is no need to fear. There is no need to give notice to the enemy and his lies about my identity or purpose. Receiving that as truth is liberating. In answer to the second question; the imperfections of my character and my willingness to see them for what they are, creates a platform for God’s Glory to be revealed in His unending mercies. Thankfully his mercies are new every morning.
Joyce Salwen says
Deidra, I love this article! And I can identify! I have naturally curly hair and for years I would spend hours every day blow drying it and straightening it and getting frustrated when after all my hard work it would still get the frizzies. When I reached my late thirties I decided I was just not going to fight it anymore. Now I just wash it and let it dry naturally! It takes me five minutes to do my hair. Now people compliment me all the time on how beautiful my hair is and how they wished I had hair like mine. Why couldn’t I just accept who I was and trust that God made me wonderful just the way I was??? Thanks for sharing your story.
I am behind in the reading and would like to catch up through the Friday discussions. Do you know of a link I can use to access the recorded sessions?