I am driving down Western Avenue in Chicago trying to remember a prayer by heart. I drive this way most days. It’s a speedy through-route to points of interest south of me. Suddenly, the overpass that took the brunt of that traffic is gone, and we are left with one, wide road. The middle lanes are closed to rebuild. We drive on the outer roads, either side of the construction zone, banked up against the chain link fences that keep us out, and the workers in, I suppose.
The prevailing narrative of our time is one of not-enough, lack, insufficiency — or even self-sufficiency. But that’s not what God says to us or about us. As pastor and author Jo Saxton writes, “Contrary to the many mantras of our day, our identity is not found deep within us: it's given.”
Identity is given by God, our Creator, the One who made us in his image, the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb, the One who knows what’s best for us.
Because of this, it’s important for boundary-setting to begin not with externals or with symptoms but with identity — because who you are determines how you live, and what kind of boundaries you’re willing and able to put up. In short, we need to know who we are and whose we are.
As a child growing up in the church, if there was one message I heard over and over again, it was that God was in control, and most importantly, God loved us — and we actually had fun.
This was a comforting message and environment. Furthermore, the themes of joy and God’s defeat of evil became even more prominent during my teen years.
But then youth group ended, and I entered the realm of adult Christendom: political causes, doctrinal debates, worship wars, traditional vs. modern bickering, congregational infighting, gossip, church splits, corporate boycotts, moral rage, judgment, and fear.