Every season brings or removes individuals from our lives as we further into our journey towards spiritual growth. Yet, as these changes occur, God reveals the much-needed fruit of the Spirit He offers freely to us. As He conducts these changes, our tribal identity becomes created by learning our God given identity, accepting the tribe God wants for us, and seeing God’s character through our seasons.
It is rather funny how God reveals more of our spiritual identity as we become mature in our physical, mental, and spiritual ages. I reflect on the different stages of my life and what God desired for me to gain as my spiritual identity developed (and continues to develop). While I have always been a believer in God, prayer, and His Word, experiencing it on my own is entirely different.
Before I married my husband and moved cross-country, I grew up in a small town, I lived at home, I had a small part-time job, and I attended college- which was my dependent stage. While I was excited about becoming a married, young woman, I struggled with the thought of officially being on my own away from everyone I knew, leaving the church I grew up, leaving everything I accomplished, and becoming independent in a place where I didn’t know a single soul.
My sister-in-law prayed with me for God to help me adjust to a new life in Colorado and for Him to give me confirmation about the church He desired for my family. A few weeks later, my sister-in-law needed me to babysit my niece and nephew while she had a chance to catch up with her “missionary parents” she hadn’t seen in a while. Moments later, she excitedly called for me to meet them because they could get me in touch with a church in my new city- which, eventually, became my first, new, home church. That was the first time I learned what it meant to be an independent woman dependent on God.
After settling in Colorado, I became a part of the ladies’ Bible class with the church, and experienced Christ-like community. By becoming “independent” in a new place, I became dependent on God as I learned to discern His voice from a Priscilla Shirer Bible study. In the early stages of my marriage, there were struggles- which left me feeling lonely, insecure, and anxious. I didn’t quite understand because I thought just doing a Bible study was “good enough.”
Bible study, alone, is not nearly enough time with God as I learned. Once I moved to Ohio from Colorado for our new duty station, I knew I was missing something spiritually, but I could not grasp what it was because I was struggling with a smothering blanket of loneliness and anxiety. Imagine living in a place where you are lonely with no friends over a year. I could have reached out, but when my family was going through a deeply, painful struggle, I felt that it was better to deal with it alone. Christopher was a little over a year old during this time; for a majority of the time in Ohio, I took care of him on my own and hoped I was doing a good enough job as a mom.
After a year of battling loneliness and trying to take care of Christopher the best I could, my every day prayer of finding a mom friend was answered in my own backyard. Looking back, I can see that through my times of loneliness and feelings of not being a good enough mom were the very things I needed to learn that I was a daughter of God. My lack of confidence grew into godly confidence that God desired for me to discover through godly friendship.
Once I learned to have complete dependence on God and discover who I was confidently in God, that prepared me for the next step in my spiritual journey. Through my loneliness, I experienced great comfort and learned forgiveness. God worked through my dear friend to show me how to pray and forgive, especially for my marriage. By learning how to forgive, I gained joy that I had been missing.
Too often when we are experiencing a struggle or something traumatic, we become bitter and choose not to fully forgive. By learning that forgiveness does not take away from the fact that “I went through something,” it gave me the healing for my soul. Forgiveness showed me how to pray and see a person through “God’s eyes” because Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Through Tribal Identity, I learned who I was and who I am in Christ while I discover the people God wants me to know. God shapes me each day to become the wife, mom, and woman He desires for me to be through Him.
Continue in the second part of two series of Tribal Identity in the next few weeks.