“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” — Psalm 25:5 (NIV)
Several years ago when we updated our kitchen, we invited a contractor friend over for his expert opinion. I was so excited to discuss fun details like where to place the appliances, cabinet colors and lighting fixtures. But when he walked in and stared at the ceiling with a look of grave concern, I knew something was wrong.
Because we’d already removed some of the sheetrock, he could see how one of the major beams wasn’t able to provide the necessary amount of support. It wasn’t long enough to extend all the way to the supporting wall. Someone had attempted to fix it by nailing another board into its side, which extended the length of the kitchen. Not only is this not the proper way to fix a supporting beam, but the nails were barely holding things together.
I didn’t understand why this was such a big deal. Plenty of other boards appeared to be doing just fine.
But my friend knew better.
He took me upstairs. In the exact place where the broken boards were in the ceiling below, the second floor dipped and sagged. One good jump or heavy thing dropped, and that supporting board would likely come apart.
I didn’t need any further explanation. I already knew we couldn’t leave this the way it was. I walked back downstairs and stood below the problem spot.
Broken boards can’t provide stability. There’s nothing profound about that from a construction standpoint. Seeing those boards barely hanging on was like looking inside myself.
For years, I’d expected stability from a broken identity. An identity that began splintering the day my dad stopped coming home.
It’s awfully hard to believe you’re a loved daughter of God when you’re the unwanted daughter of a dad who walked away.
After he left our family, I tried to prop up what was left of me, so I wouldn’t collapse into the broken place inside. Good grades. Achievements and accolades. Fun friends and good times. Boys who made me feel special. I tried to steady myself with anything that helped me feel better.
But feelings are fragile props.
Just like the broken beam in my house couldn’t be fixed by simply nailing another board in to prop it up, neither could I. It wasn’t just a better feeling I needed; I needed a completely new way of defining my identity. I needed truth to inform what I believed about myself. Otherwise, what I believed would become a fragile, flimsy, faulty foundation. The beliefs we hold should hold us up even when life feels like it’s falling apart.
At that point, though, I couldn’t say that the beliefs I held could hold me up. For years, I’d heard people talking about putting my identity in Christ. I nodded my head. I memorized by rote Colossians 3:12 which proclaimed I was one of “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” (NIV)
But when life felt threatening, I’d revert right back to the old thought patterns of feeling unloved and unwanted.
Standing underneath those broken boards helped me see why. I couldn’t keep my old broken beliefs, nail a little Jesus truth to the side, and expect stability. I knew I had to stop assessing God’s goodness by how my life felt at any given moment. Feelings are broken boards. Only truth is solid, unchanging, and stable through and through.
This is why we must tear out old thought patterns, then replace them with a new way of looking at the core of who we are. Psalm 25:5 can become our life’s prayer, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Yes. Our identity must be anchored to the truth of who God is and who He is to us. Only then can we find a stability beyond what our feelings will ever allow. The closer we align our truth with His truth, the more closely we identify with God — and the more our identity is found in Him.
Lord, reveal the lies I’ve believed for far too long, and help me replace them with life-giving Truth. I want my identity to be anchored in and built upon You — my unchanging, undeniably good, and unquestionably loving God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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