Shauna Niequist wrote a beautiful post a while back about the old stories we believe about ourselves. Even though God has been at work in us, transforming us and giving us new identities, we continue to buy into old versions of ourselves—or lies we’ve bought into for too long.
In her post “Change the Story” she says:
There are people and situations that take us back to old, old stories, and even though we’re moms now, not children, or even though we’re business owners now, not adolescents, we find ourselves acting out stories that haven’t been true for a long time, or stories that were never true to begin with.
I’ve been thinking about this lately, and I’ve been reminded of those famous words of Jesus: that the truth will set you free.
One of my friends sees herself as nonconfrontational, fearful of stepping into dangerous situations. But as I’ve watched her parent a son with severe allergies, I see how God is rewriting that story. I first witnessed this growing bravery when she discovered her son’s dairy allergy. She was miles from home and husband, but she confronted every obstacle in her way to find out what was happening to her baby and get him the help he needed. And as I watch her continue to advocate for her little guy at restaurants, at school, and on playdates, making sure he’s safe physically and not being left out, she is growing into many shades of brave.
Another friend holds on to an old version of herself—a story that she is slow to warm up with new people, that no would pursue her or connect with her without a long lead time. But over the years, I’ve seen her stepping out in her job, flourishing in her interactions with clients, stepping into new friendships, making herself rightly vulnerable in relationships new and old. And something amazing is happening: people are seeing her for the beautiful woman she is. God is rewriting her story.
For years I’ve believed that I was destined to live in fear. I worried about big things and little things, about the noise in my attic that was most likely a serial killer and about global warming and about losing the people I loved most. I decided that my condition was chronic—that I’d just have to figure out how to live with it. But somewhere along the way, God began to rewrite that script. Instead of keeping a running tally of my worries, I started to track all the ways I’d seen his faithfulness to me. And ever so subtly, I noticed that fear was no longer in the driver’s seat of my life.
One of the things I appreciate about God is that he loves us just the way we are but doesn’t leave us that way. The evidence is there all through Scripture as he discards old stories and gives people new names, new identities:
- When God gave Abram a promise for generations to come, he told him, You are no longer Abram. From now on, you will be Abraham—the father of many nations (Genesis 17:5).
- When Jacob had an encounter with God, God told him, You will no longer be called the deceiver. From now on, your name will be Israel—one who has struggled with God (Genesis 32:28).
- When Jesus met Peter, he said, Your name is no longer Simon. From now on, you will be Peter, the rock (Matthew 16:18).
I hear God saying the same thing today:
- You are no longer Timid. My daughter, your new name is Brave.
- You are no longer Unseen. You are my daughter Beloved.
- You are no longer Much-Afraid. You are my daughter Learning-to-Trust.
What about you? Is there a story that God has rewritten in your life—or one that he’s rewriting now? Has God given you a new name? I’d love to hear about it, I’d be honored to pray for you on this journey.
I’ve always loved this idea of receiving a new name. Very hopeful for me, too. Thanks Stephanie, for your insight and reminder.
Linda, God is creating something beautiful inside of you!
Nicole G. says
This is so true! I feel like God is working on me right now. Trying to show me what he has rewritten me as. I feel like I am greatly holding onto my old identity, and trying to figure out who I am in my new home, and my new life. He is trying to tell me to slow down, be reflective and see the new name he has given me. If only I wasn’t so stubborn and wasn’t avoiding his lesson. Thank you for another nudge to stop and accept His glory!
Nicole, the person he is creating in you is beautiful indeed.
Jennifer Kostick says
This is a wonderful post! I’m also someone who has struggled with fear and am learning to “beat it” by focusing on the greatness of God and all He has done. I also love how you used the words “growing into many shades of brave.” Brave is my one word for the year. For me it means to be
Everything God wants to do in my heart and through my life.
I’m cheering on every woman to do the same! Great post today!!!
You are brave, Jennifer! Cheering for you too.
Nadia Ianakieva says
Thank you, Stephanie for chosing a beautiful topic for discussion. I have a husbund who thinks it is funny to put you down: “You can’t even talk on the phone like normal person. Or, there is something missing in this meal that you cooked. Oh, yes, a little bit of solt will do.” I believe that God gave me a new name since I became his child. He calls me Hope for the lost and his Ambasador, Beloved, or My Beautiful One. My real name Nadia is an abriviation of Nadejda, that means Hope.
Yes, Nadia, God calls you his daughter. You are a beautiful ambassador of hope–so well named.
I guess my new name might be World Traveler as God called the most unlikely person to be a missionary in foreign countries. I was so afraid to spend the night at friend’s houses when I was a child that I had “sleepover sickness” pills to try to help get me through the night. The probem was that it didn’t work and I had to call home to get picked up so I could sleep in my own bed. I love your line “he loves us where we are but doesn’t leave us there.” Great!