Today, I visited the US Embassy in Botswana. After a 15-minute procedure that included metal detectors and the confiscation of my cell phone and bag, a security escort walked us into the compound. Guys. It was AWESOME. I saw a group of American people in front of the building I was going into. There was flag, hanging high. And I am not sure how they did it, but I am pretty sure it smelled like a baseball field. I am 100% thankful for the troops and the privileges I grew up with, but I have never considered myself to be a super patriotic person. But life is funny, and in those 30 minutes, there was NO ONE on this planet that was happier/prouder/more excited to be an American than Elizabeth Anne Callahan.
A lady said ONE WORD to a security person and her voice made me SMILE WITH GLEE. I was directed to a small room with three glass windows. It was an empty room and no one was at any window. I rang a bell and a lady came from one of the back offices. The kindness that radiated through her voice when she said, “How can I help you?” had me grinning like an idiot. If I felt glee with the one word from the first lady, this lady’s 5 words brought euphoria. It took everything in my entire being not to ask her who she was, where she lived, and if she wanted to meet for coffee and talk about American things. I happily paid a ridiculous fee for something because it also bought me 5 more minutes in this office that, in the US, I would have dreaded being in. (Maybe I am a little homesick, but it’s fine.) Even though I didn’t get that much accomplished with the trip, I was SO HAPPY.
Today, I identified with being an American and it brought me joy.
But most of the time, the things I identify with bring me anxiety.
In junior high, I remember being told that when we wear a school shirt in public, we are representing our ENTIRE school. I took that SERIOUSLY. I opened doors for elderly people, picked up trash at the little league fields, and tried to not do ANYTHING wrong, all while making sure my body was positioned so that people could read my shirt. It was when I saw a boy in my class put his boogers into someone else’s hair that I realized I had a major problem. HE was representing me.
I remember wishing that he would move to my rival school.
How unfair is it that this person who happens to go to the same school as me is representing me and who I am? Answer: SUPER UNFAIR.
Recently, I’ve found myself having these same types of thoughts. How unfair is it that OTHER PEOPLE represent me? Just because they went to the same college, are from the same state, eat the same foods, are a part of the same religion, etc. as me, they get to represent me? WHAT? NO. STOP. I identify with these things, and these people who “represent” me are making me want to pull my hair out. I mean, come on. If you are going to put a Jesus sticker on your car, can you at least TRY to be a better driver and refrain from flipping the bird so much? (Side note: If I were a terrible driver, I would totally put stickers of things I hate on my car. Luckily, I am a terrific driver.)
In addition to that, it is a lot of pressure to be responsible to all of the people I am connected to, as I guess that I semi-represent them. (Sorry any family member/FB friend/twitter follower/acquaintance, I mess up/disappoint/sin A LOT.)
This all makes me question who I am, where I am from, what I believe, etc.
When all of these things have me on the brink of tears, Jesus sweeps in and is like, “Hey, remember me?” Oh.
Tonight, I randomly picked up a Hymnal. You might be familiar with the song that I opened to:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing.
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ,
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love.
God always has a way of smacking me in the face. My identity isn’t in other people. It’s in HIM. It is in my Lord. My King. The one who came to this world. To this earth. The one whose blessings flow. The one who rules the world with truth and grace. This righteous God. This loving Savior. THIS is my identity. It isn’t things. It isn’t people. It’s Jesus.
So tonight, I am clinging to my identity in Jesus. It’s anxiety-free, we aren’t separated by a glass window, and it brings more joy than I have ever experienced/could ever describe.
I recommend it.