So continuing from Part 1, Identity Week was a bit insane.
(Part 1 can be found here if you missed it:
Joanne continued teaching us about identity and highlighting the lies that the media tries to sell us about ourselves in order to make us buy things we don’t need.
In one lecture, we wrote down the world’s expectations of what a man and woman “should” be like according to the media on a big whiteboard. It was really interesting to be reminded how ridiculous and unrealistic the images we are bombarded with every
day actually are – most of them even contradict themselves! The world says that women’s identity comes from their appearance. We need to have a thigh gap, toned stomach, big boobs, tiny waist and big bum whilst maintaining flawless skin, great hair, and a career and family?
Apparently men’s identity comes from how “manly” they are, which is dependent on what they can do and how many girls they can “do.” Men need to be brave, sensitive, confident (but not TOO confident) rich, successful, tall, handsome, muscular, charismatic, in the habit of sleeping around or being completely obsessed with their girlfriends/wives whilst not being able to cry or have any needs of their own?
THIS IS NOT THE TRUTH.
It makes me so sad the way the enemy twists the beautiful God things made just enough to make them ugly and destructive – without us even realising most of the time.
According to John and Stasi Eldregde’s books “Captivating” and “Wild At Heart”, both men and women carry questions deep within us we long to be answered.
For women it’s: “Am I captivating? Am I beautiful?”
For men: “Am I manly enough? Do I have what it takes?”
This exercise was really good at reminding me that if we let the world answer these questions for us then we’re going to develop a very twisty self-view.
As humans we were created to reflect different aspects of God.
Women were made to reveal God’s beauty and men were made to demonstrate God’s ability to come through for people.
These purposes are both different but equally important and easily manipulated by the world’s (cough the enemy’s) need to separate us from the truth of who we really are, and how God defines us.
I think knowing our identity in God is definitely not a quick fix – some lies we have believed since childhood – but this week has enlightened me to the active resistance we need to have against the voices that tell us who we are over God’s, even if it looks like shouting it at yourself every morning in the mirror!
During and after the lecture, I started to think about a lot of the lies that I’ve believed about myself vs. what God really says about me. That night I had a dream about the cross. In the dream, I wrote down all the lies I took on as part of my identity, then nailed them to the cross where Jesus defeated them, and they disappeared.
I woke up feeling like it would be really good to recreate this in person. I decided I would make some time on the weekend to draw a cross on paper/ make one on the wall of our room, then stick on all the things I believed on it as a symbolic gesture that I didn’t want to take on thoughts of the enemy anymore.
It just so happened that this was the EXACT activity we had planned for the next day, which we had no idea about! Was a little bit shocked when I found out that I’d basically had a prophetic dream!
Joanne asked us in lectures to write down 2 lists: one of all the lies we believed, then one of all the truths that counteracted it. Honestly it was a bit scary realising just how many untruths actually go round in my head on a daily basis, and painful to actually write them down, but eventually I finished my 6 pages of lies and truths.
During evening lectures, we spent some time with God before taking our lies to the wooden cross we have on base and leaving them there. I think this was one of the most powerful things I’ve done on the course so far. After praying, I physically tore up the lies and left them at the cross to die.
Coming back to my spot on the carpet, I realised I may have started with 3 pages of lies, but going back to meant I am left with nothing but 3 pages of truth over me! So awesome!
In evening lectures, a lot more healing happened.
It’s quite a lot to write in this blog (especially as I’m finishing it off about 4 weeks later!) but I’ll try to give you the gist of it.
We sat in a circle separated the guys and girls, and decided to pray for each group in turn – starting with the guys. Joanne felt there was forgiveness that needed to happen in order to bring healing, so as a group of girls, we sat at the men’s feet and became a representation of all the women who had hurt them in their lives. One by one we apologised on behalf of those who had caused pain in the past – from mothers, sisters, girlfriends, friends etc. then the men had an opportunity to forgive them, followed by a lot of ministry and prayer as the guys worked through different things with God.
During this time, we washed the men’s feet as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation, then went round the room praying for different guys – that’s where chains really started to break. I won’t go into details to honour my class mates and staff, but goodness me, healing is so beautiful and messy.
After an hour or so of ministry, it was the girls’ turn.
Joanne told us to stand in the middle of the room, close our eyes and imagine the scene she was describing for us. She put on the song “We Dance” by Steffany Gretzinger and told us to imagine being in a ballroom, in a beautiful dress just with God.
Honestly at first, I found this quite cheesy and struggled to get into it.
As Joanne continued to describe the truth God was speaking over us, I randomly got a picture of Belle from Beauty in the Beast in her yellow dress, dancing in the castle’s ballroom. I suddenly remembered how in awe I was of the beauty and magic of the scene when I saw the live action version in the cinema, and this made it a lot easier to imagine me twirling around the dance floor, just with my father.
After a while, the guys were released across the room to go and dance with the girls – representing God spinning us around the room.
I may or may not have lost it a bit at this point…
It feels so weird writing it now, but it’s amazing how even though at the time I knew I was dancing with different class mates, whenever I looked up into their eyes, I genuinely saw Jesus staring back at me.
(Being a bit vulnerable here), I know not having a father anymore often leaves me longing for attention or acceptance from men, so being able to look past a guy who was literally holding me in his arms, to see that God is holding onto me and not letting go, really hit the message home that Jesus is enough for me.
I had a hard-hitting revelation that no other man (or lack thereof) can ever come close to defining me or loving me the way he does.
Still on the journey from the head to the heart with this one, but thankfully God is a pretty awesome travelling companion!
This night definitely broke some things in me, as well making me seriously appreciate the absolutely incredible new brothers I have acquired on DTS! (Huge apologies for ruining a few shirts with the mascara bros!!)
After completing this topic, honestly I’ve come away feeling like we kind of need to have an identity century, rather than identity week, but as well as the healing I’ve received in the last few days, I feel like I have some new tools to go away and work on with God in the weeks to come.
On the Friday, we spent a few hours in small groups with our pieces of paper with the truths on, and took it turns to stand up declare them in front of the group. This looked different for each person, but it was really powerful to actively replace lies with truth, even if we are still going through the process of believing our words.
After spending a few hours of reflection time in the prayer room on Saturday, I’ve decided I’m going to try and actively come against the lies of the devil by literally writing and sticking the truths God spoke over me all over my room! The Biblical principle and weapon of thought-capturing I’ve spoken about in previous posts is slowly becoming more familiar, and I also feel like I’ve been challenged not to wear make-up for a while!
Establishing a firm foundation of my identity is definitely a process that will be continuing outside of DTS, but I’m still excited to see what the next few weeks bring 🙂