Friday, November 6, 2015

Guest Post: Mattanah from This Same Purpose!

Hi friends! I am ELATED to have my friend Mattanah on the blog from This Same Purpose! Mattanah and I recently met on a bloggers' Facebook group and became fast friends. Her heart for Jesus is inspiring! Today Mattanah will be sharing about Identity. Take it away Mattanah :) 

Where Is Your Identity?
Mattanah DeWitt

Hello, Forever Convinced readers / new friends! My name is Mattanah. I recently met Jessica on a bloggers’ Facebook group and she offered for me to write a guest post on her blog. I was honored, and of course, said yes! Also, she just wrote a post for my blog, This Same Purpose, so click the link to check it out!). 

Identity. It’s a broad and important topic, and there’s no way I have all the wisdom and knowledge, but I do have a little experience. So, I’d like to share part of my story with you: two lessons God’s love has taught me about who I am.

Lesson One.

I learned this lesson during an uncomfortable time in my life, a time when I had no direction. I felt I wasn’t good at anything, that I didn’t belong anywhere. It seemed everyone except me had a knack for something. In my church/homeschool group, people either sang, played music, or played sports. And it didn’t take me long to discover that I wasn’t good at ANY of those. I was out of place. I tried to fit in, but by trying to fit in, I ended up below par in everything. Being so focused on doing what I (thought I) wanted to do, I couldn’t see past my own definition of success to God’s, which was much bigger than mine.
Finally, I got tired of being someone besides Mattanah. I knew God had created me for something. And I also knew that if I never figured out what that was, I sure didn’t want to pretend anymore. I was being dishonest about my own character and didn’t enjoy it.
One of the moms in my church knew a little bit about my struggle. I’ll never forget the day she came up to me and said this (paraphrased):
There’s a song by Casting Crowns, “Lifesong,” that I’ve chosen to live my life by, and maybe it will help you too. The chorus says, “Let my lifesong sing to you.” Every person’s life sings a song to God. As long as it makes Him happy, it doesn’t matter what other people, or you, think of it. God will show you what He wants you to do. But for now, just know that your life’s song makes Him happy.
It was such a relief hearing those words. Someone understood what I was feeling! And usually, empathy aggravated me more than it helped. But not this time. It was exactly what I needed to hear. However, I came to my breaking point when I was so exasperated one day that I asked God, “WHO am I?!” Very quietly and softly, He whispered to my heart, “You’re mine.” I burst into tears. In that moment, healing found me. In that moment, the Father showered me with His peace. It was more than enough just to be His. I had been so afraid of losing myself and had clung so tightly to who I thought I was, when it was losing myself to Christ that brought the truth of my identity to light in a radical way. I had been saved, but was still in chains. He set me free, and I’ve never been the same since.
After I began to find joy in simply belonging to HIM, God showed me what I was good at! He opened doors – no, floodgates – of opportunity, and gave me permission to explore. For example, I became the President of Student Leadership Association. I started my blog. I competed in a pageant and won the title of 2014 Miss Tennessee National Teenager. I never thought I would compete in a pageant, but it was a platform God gave me and I ran with it (I’m telling you – floodgates!). I even started a small ministry for young women by creating the Queens in the Making Conference. Keep in mind, all this was God’s working in me, for His glory. I can’t take credit for any of it. The only part I had was surrendering.
During this time, I learned more about the Father. I learned that He wants me to always be in a place of dependence upon Him. I remember praying that He would put me in situations where I had to live by a “crazy kind of faith” – a faith that seems irrational and too extreme, a faith that WORKS! (Hebrews 11:6). And He did. Jesus taught me how to get out of my comfort zone, to walk on the waves and keep my eyes on Him. Trusting Him completely was like being a 4-year-old, jumping into the deep end, and believing that my Daddy would catch me. Scary? Yes. The most exhilarating, wonderful way to live life? Absolutely.
This life is a journey, and we won’t arrive until we behold Jesus, the King of kings. So of course, I had more to learn. This leads to Lesson two.

Lesson Two.

Just to be honest, lesson two was a (recent) repeat of lesson one, and it’s something I need to remind myself of every day. In the first lesson, my identity had been wrapped up in what I could or couldn’t do. The Father showed me that the only way to have peace is to find myself in Christ. Then, I began to discover what God had gifted me to do, which was awesome! But in all the positions, titles, projects, church services, etc., I began to make Christianity my identity. I still loved God and was passionate about His Kingdom, but my focus was a little off. I didn’t like not having it all together. And that’s a problem since Jesus wants me to always be in a place of dependence upon Him. Again, God had to teach me that the only way to have peace is to find myself in Christ (Philippians 4:7).
I had begun to mentor young women and they were leaning on me. My gut response was to think I need to be strong for them, but that wasn’t true. My strength wouldn’t be enough for them. If my advice made them dependent upon me and not Jesus, I failed. Even though they were leaning on me, that didn’t take away the fact that I still needed to lean on Jesus. We’re all in need of His strength. I’ll never be able to do it by myself, and to believe that I can is plain ole’ pride. II Corinthians 12:9 says that in our weakness, HE is strong. How will people see the grace of God if they don’t see it demonstrated in people who need it? I needed and still need His grace. During this lesson, I realized that I had made my faith my foundation – not Jesus.
Let me make this clear: it’s not enough to go to church. You and I NEED to sit at Jesus’s feet. We need to allow ourselves to be broken before Him and realize that even though we still have a lot to learn, God loves us and is with us right where we are. 

The more God teaches me of Himself and reveals His love to me, the more I see that it isn’t about me. It’s all about Jesus. And I experience the most joy, peace, and contentment when I stop concerning myself with myself and start focusing on HIM! Because only when I begin to only look at Jesus do I find my identity.
No matter who you are or what season of life you find yourself in today, know this: Jesus loves you! We hear that so much that it sometimes seems like religious rhetoric. But it’s the truth. Would you dare to believe the Father’s beautiful thoughts about you and know that they don’t change based on your current circumstances? He loves you right where you are. If you try to find your identity in your position, your talents, your relationship status, your job, etc., you’ll live an empty life. God doesn’t look at those things when He sees you. He looks at your heart, and He whispers, “You’re mine.”

Mattanah is a passionate gal with big dreams. Her heart is to live for Jesus and show His love to the world by utilizing the gifts He has given her and by putting to action the ambitions He has planted in her heart. Mattanah has served in various leadership positions, including the title she received in 2014, Miss Tennessee National Teenager. She is an entrepreneur and visionary at heart and is the owner/operator of her photography business, Photography by Mattanah. She considers it a hobby that pays - not a job. Born a Midwesterner and raised a Southerner, Mattanah enjoys the best of both worlds (i.e. drinking TN sweet tea while eating IA corn-on-the-cob). She loves meeting new people, making things look pretty, the outdoors, and chocolate.

Follow Mattanah's blog as well as her social media pages and you will NOT be disappointed! She is amazing and so encouraging!