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Brave Avenue Unscripted: Who Are You: Identity

 

Episode 3: IDENTITY: Secure in my identity: Who am I?

Identity and security go hand in hand. Our security is linked to knowing who we are, but do we really like what we discover?  Join us as we dive into this complex topic on our journey to discover true freedom. Don’t let others’ negative opinion of you become your reality.

Identity: how do others describe us? 

How do we describe ourselves?

What are the significant roles that we play, and which ones do we get our identity from?

How does God define us?

“Not my mirror, nor my filter.” Others words and opinions are not, but God‘s word is.

Ephesians 6: We get dressed each day, and put on the belt of truth. Throughout the day, we need to filter every thought through the truth of God’s word.

Identity and security go hand in hand. Our security is linked to knowing our identity.

“Identity is the foundation on which individual uniqueness rests. It secures that which satisfies the deepest longing of an individual‘s life.”

-Terry Wardle

True freedom is having an identity grounded in Christ, and not being a target for others hurtful words or actions. True freedom is having nothing to prove. True freedom is knowing who you are and not being able to have that taken from you.

We can speak the truth with compassion, from a place of vulnerability. We can speak the truth out of a desire for the best for others, reminding people of their true identity.

Beliefs > Identity > Behavior

Our behavior flows out of our identity, but it’s not the same thing. Sometimes we act out of character, we forget our identity and act in a way that does not reflect who we truly are. We have to remember that that behavior is not our identity, it does not define us. We have to remember our true identity.

What do your behaviors say about your identity? About your beliefs?

What have been your most significant identity shifts? How have these identity shifts changed your behaviors? Relationships with others?

Do you identify with any of these statements?

  • I am a victim. 
  • I am not worthy. 
  • I am not enough. 
  • Other examples.

What does God say is true about you?

[Verses about identity]

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 John 3:1-3 (TPT) Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.  The reason the world doesn’t recognize who we are is that they didn’t recognize him. Beloved, we are God’s children right now; however, it is not yet apparent what we will become. But we do know that when it is finally made visible, we will be just like him, for we will see him as he truly is. And all who focus their hope on him will always be purifying themselves, just as Jesus is pure.

Resources:

 

No Longer an Easy Target

I remember sitting at my friend’s house crying again about something someone said to me. I hated how I let this person’s comments get under my skin but here I was again. This was nothing new. The person had exhibited the same behaviors for years, yet I had a propensity to face it as if it were the first time. I sat in my friend’s kitchen, frustrated and defeated as I re-told the story. They listened and were very encouraging but they also challenged me with truth. “You are an easy target.” My friends words shook me…she was right and it made me angry. Seeing myself from that perspective was all it took for me to get up and take my power back. I was no one’s easy target!

“The way you see is stronger than any calamity.” Mark Batterson

In order to see myself differently, I had to change the narrative I was telling myself.  When we allow others words to hurt us, oftentimes it is because there is something we believe to be true about ourselves. Maybe you believe you’re not a good daughter because you didn’t get your Mother the perfect gift for her birthday. Do you believe you’re unattractive because a family member often reminds you of how you could look so much better if you just changed this.  Or do you feel like you’re incompetent in your role at work because your Supervisor never likes your ideas. Do you feel like you’ll never meet the right guy because you have been romantically disappointed too many times? What do you believe about yourself that is not true?

For years, I let shots land in my heart about my loyalty, my weight, abilities and romantic relationships and every.single.time. I was left feeling the same way which caused me to believe I would never be good enough. I know none of those things are true. I have been processed by the truth of who God says I am and His truth causes me to grow. Each time I recognize a lie, I call it out and build onto the truth.

This is how we grow.

This is how we add maturity to our faith.

We no longer have to start from square one when we get attacked. Now we can recognize what the attacker is attempting to do and get out of the way! When you make the decision to grow, your attackers plans will no longer work.  

I want you to think about something. When a hunter goes hunting, they do not simply shoot and kill their prey.  Their attack is calculated. They blend in with their surroundings, they are quiet, silently watching, studying to learn their preys habits, weaknesses, and strengths. The hunter can sit for hours taking in all this information and waiting for the perfect time to attack.  Y’all we have an enemy that is strategically setting up challenges to steal, kill and destroy us.  He believes that you are an easy target. What do you believe??

The following week the same person that I let upset me attempted to rile me up again but this time I refused to let it anger me. I called them out on their behavior. They didn’t apologize but they quickly backed down and tried to pretend they were just kidding. The behavior continued a few more times, but each time it occurred, I spoke up with more assurance until finally it stopped.  What happened? I was able to see the problem with a greater perspective which allowed me to build upon the information that I already knew.  This made it possible for me to face the challenge with more tenacity. I was done!

Philippians 1:6 says, “God has already started a good work in you and He wants to bring it to completion.”  

God wants to build upon what He has already done in you so that you can have greater influence to empower others.

Brave Tip: “Let your yesterday be a building block for tomorrow.” Priscilla Shirer

Candy

To Be Or Not To Be…You

This year has been about pursuing “This is Me”, my identity. Since I’ve invited God to show me who I am, it’s been a heavy battle of letting go of what I’ve believed about myself in exchange for the truth of who He has already created me to be.

If I’ve always been who He says I am, then the question I have to ask myself is: What has kept me from fully embracing it all this time? I believe that false humility has played a significant role in my denial of who I am. False humility hides behind an incorrect perception of humility. False humility is pride cloaking itself as humility. For example, do you often disagree with people when they pay you a compliment or have some kind of rebuttal? Yep, that’s false humility.

I think there is a constant underlying fear of either being perceived as arrogant or not being good enough. In reality, true humility admits the truth. Pride blinds, distracts, and slows down the process of growth. I’ve said in the past that it’s not the truth that hurts but the removal of pride that leaves a powerful sting.

While reading a book called ‘The Marketplace Paradigm”, I realized that I never gave myself permission to be successful. Some part of me withheld the possibility of actually seeing my visions come to pass. It was a turning point in my thinking. I decided that I’m finished pretending I can’t have it all. I am supposed to dream big and have the audacity to believe it can be done. I’ve had to admit that I’ve placed limits on my God-given potential.

It is never too late to get it. God has been waiting for this moment. He has been waiting for you to align yourself with the truth and allow it to set you free. In this freedom you don’t count yourself out and decide that someone else is more qualified. In this freedom you assume that He has set you up for success.

I finally admit that I am a gifted artist and speaker. I challenge you to no longer ignore the compliments and affirmation that come your way. People notice what you are good at and have a tendency to tell you. Ask a co-worker, friend or family member to tell you what they see in you. There is nothing that you lack in gifts. They point you to who you are.

What visions have God played on repeat all your life? What are you passionate about? Take a moment to wholly accept who you are and give yourself permission to just ‘be’. Don’t let false humility get in the way. It’s time to finally admit how truly incredible you are.

Just Do Something

Just read something.

The voice echoed in my head as I rolled over in bed, contemplating what or IF I should read my Bible that morning. Why had this grown to be my morning routine? After weeks of busy, non stop days from early morning to almost midnight most days, my body, mind, and heart was growing accustomed to shutting down and going on autopilot. This day was different however. As I lay there and told God my reasons why I couldn’t grab the Bible right next to me and read. Eventually, he won with that simple “read something”-anything really, just read. Something is better than nothing he seemed to whisper.

Something is better than nothing.

Often we seem to lack the motivation not because we don’t want to do the thing, but because we want to do it well and end up not starting at all out of fear that it won’t go perfectly as planned. For me, that can manifest in several ways: a homework assignment, a tough conversation, or getting up and doing the thing I desired and determined to do just the day before.

With my theme of choosing the Hard Way this year, I’ve realized that in order to get the most out of life and to GIVE the most to my future self, I just have to do something no matter how imperfect or lackluster I think it may be. I have to be able to take a risk in order for any real change to occur.

Indecision is a decision not to decide.

It is still a choice when you choose “not to choose”. There is still risk involved, and it is the risk of not knowing what would have happened had you actually made a real decision. Either way you risk.

That’s kinda what this is all about. That word none of us like but all of us will encounter at some point in our journey. RISK. Which is greater? The risk of making the wrong decision, or the risk of making no decision at all?

When I finally made the decision to just read something that morning, I was blessed and encouraged, something that would not have happened had I chosen to get a few more minutes of sleep. It wasn’t a perfect devotional and journal and prayer time, or even super in depth. It was simple and sweet, and just what I needed. While it wasn’t much of a risk, it was the first step-among many-on the journey to conquering fear. One small victory over indecision, one more step towards a braver me.

Failing At Failure

What would my life look like without insecurity and the fear of failure? Who would I be? I asked myself this before starting an internal journey of uncovering what truly makes me who I am. Since then, I’ve been placed in situations that have caused me to analyze my life from a different vantage point. God’s point-of-view.

In the past 3 years, I’ve experienced a lot of changes, loss, and transition. This has caused me to question what I want out of life and if I’m even on the right track. Was I as creative as I thought? Do I really want to pursue the big dream of building a successful creative lifestyle and events business? Distrust in my ability to make big things happen in my life had subtly settled in. Last fall, after a particular bout of self-doubt and tears,  I decided that these feelings of defeat could not possibly match God’s perspective of who I am and what I am capable of.

On the final day of a conference I recently attended I had a breakthrough in my perspective. Ryan Leak shared about his experience with “chasing failure” and how it doesn’t mean anything more than the fact that you tried something. I finally understood what God has been trying to get me to understand for months if not years. I thought that failure was a something negative that you avoided at all cost. Rather, it’s a natural part of the process of success. When you really think about it, what is so bad about failure? What does criticism of others matter in the face of what God thinks?

I’ve realized that I’ve been holding back in areas of my life because of a sense of inadequacy that had gone undetected. From relationships to the pursuit of entrepreneurship, my perspective about myself clearly did not match who I truly am.

Here are some recent revelations:
1. I have never experienced lack in my life. It may not have looked or came the way I thought, but God has always come through for me.
2. You cannot help who you are not around. Despite all the ways I can fail people, I have to have grace for myself. I can make an impact in people’s lives if I get over myself enough to be present. The world is waiting for me to be who I am called to be.
3. Not having excuses is the scary part. Persevering and attaining my dreams is up to me and no one else. I have to recognize that I’m not in this alone and that God has given me the resources and support I need to do well. It can be done.

What would the absence of fear and negative ideas reveal about you? The things that don’t work out are not necessarily an indicator of the final outcome. Don’t be discouraged; brave on. God has set you up to win.  I leave you with the question Ryan Leak asked an arrested crowd of 8,000 people:

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser

In a previous post I talked about how 2016 will be the year of “This is Me”. My hope is to finally see myself the way God sees me and unashamedly live my life out loud. My turning point came after being pressed to look back at one of the most uncertain times of my life: My parents’ divorce when I was 10 years old.

The divorce shook my world. When you come out of a divorce as complex and volatile as my parents’, it’s natural to find ways to cope. In the aftermath, I felt it was my job to keep everyone happy.  I used to work hard to please both of my parents. When I couldn’t, I focused on pleasing one. Approval seeking became a way of life. If I didn’t get it from one place, I somehow sought it from another.

I had become a people pleaser.

I had become a people pleaser. It was the only way I knew how to navigate in a world that had become unrecognizable. People pleasers have a way of living in the open yet remain hidden at the same time. I never wanted to let others down and tended to hide my true feelings to keep the peace. It was a deep-rooted mentality that subconsciously ruled my life.

For a long time, I’ve sought the approval of certain individuals despite my desire to seek only Gods’. Now I can see the many times I’ve said ‘yes’ when I should have said ‘no’ out of fear of disappointing others or being perceived as uncaring. I know that I am capable of incredible things yet I have doubted my ability to be successful at them.  I’ve feared that I won’t live up to the vision that God has given me.

people pleasing quote

It’s difficult to break out of a mindset you’ve lived out of for decades. Despite the sense of familiarity and safety in it, I decided to make a choice and allow God to challenge my thinking. To search my heart and reveal what has held me back from truly living out loud.

I’ve never felt freer than I do today. I value myself and choose to no longer play down my gifts. I understand now that my ‘no’ is just as powerful as my ‘yes”. I recognize what has been within me: bravery. I want to shout from a mountaintop “I get it now”! As a recovering people-pleaser, I invite you to break away from the approval seeking that comes from self-doubt. Allow God to bring truth and balance to your world. When you set your heart on what pleases God, everybody wins including you.

I stepped through the door and did a quick scan. There was one guy sitting at an elevated table with papers strewn about. He introduced himself and I did the same. We shook hands. I stepped back from the the table and took a deep breath. Here we go, you got this, I told myself.

I had never auditioned for anything before, and I was a little bit terrified. It’s scary to be put on the spot and have to perform. Sure, I got to prepare something in advance, but my hands were still shaking. I could feel the nerves work their way into my brain, almost causing the disappearance of a 1-minute monologue I had so faithfully rehearsed for the last few days.

To my surprise, I remembered all the words, the pauses, and the expressions. After the audition, I didn’t care if I got a callback or not. I was just so proud of myself for getting in front of someone and delivering lines that I felt I had already succeeded.

You might be wondering why someone who is terrified by auditioning in front of people would seek this out willingly. The truth is, sometimes the things we want are a little outside our comfort zones. We have to step out in order to reach them, even though the path might be daunting.

My experience in acting is somewhat limited. Although I did play several roles in my older brother’s amateur films, I’ve never acted for real, “because that would be too scary.” Then one day I had a surge of bravery and asked myself, Why am I letting fear hold me back from doing something I’ve always wanted to try? I couldn’t come up with a good enough answer, so I decided to take action.

Lights! Camera! Action! These three words are all too familiar in filmmaking. This is the cue for the actors to perform the scene–to portray the emotion and words envisioned by the screenwriter. The word “Action” is like a starting gun. It’s a green light. Without it, the scene wouldn’t get shot and the film wouldn’t get finished. It’s a no-brainer in the film world, and it should be a no brainer in the real world, too.

Action is a key ingredient to accomplishing your goals and overcoming your fears. It’s easy to be all talk and no walk, but the walk is what gets stuff done. Think of your own life like a movie. Each day is a scene, and in order to make a great movie, you have to take action. Don’t be afraid of a plot twist–they make things interesting. Make each scene count and commit to your role, no matter what.

Take a deep breath. Say it with me, “Lights, Camera, Action.No matter what your screenplay holds, go out and put your bravery in action today!

The Year of “This Is Me”

this is me

This is breakout year!  2015 had uncovered some untruths about my personal value. Hidden in a small shadowed place was the belief that I was only valuable to people for what I could do for them rather than for who I am. Unwittingly, I’ve managed to carry this idea around and view life from its lens for many years. This deep hurt came from past experiences growing up in the confusion of divorce and other factors that I hadn’t fully acknowledged. It’s caused me to shy away and sometimes hide the best parts of me.

My freedom came in the form of telling God that I wanted my self-perception to match His perception of me. In 2016, I am still making that request to God. It’s painful to admit, but I need to find out why certain things bother me so much. When God searches your heart, He leaves no stone unturned. Thankfully our amazing Father knows how to transform us by taking us through different seasons.

This year, or season, is about my identity. It’s not so much about knowing who I am, but rather, understanding what that means. It’s about fully embracing how I’ve been created without apology. It’s about the phrase “I’m too much” no longer leaving my lips. 2016 is a picture of me raising my hands, laughing without embarrassment, pursuing without comparison, and slapping fear with truth.

What would happen if I owned up to everything that makes me who I am and no longer held back? What would my life look like if I valued my voice and shared my thoughts in the workplace? How much more would my business accelerate if I didn’t shy away from opportunities because of a fear of rejection? The exceptional life I want is possible. I want to see it. I want to know it.  I want to live it.

I am finally in a place where I see my value. Now, it’s time to lay it all out there because I am created with purpose. What I have is needed whether I realize it or not. Where have you held back due to a lack of self-value? What stifling lies have you believed about what you’re capable of? Knowing yourself the way God knows you will radically change your life and those who have the fortune of being around you. Choose with me to break out of the mediocrity that fear creates and pursue the real you. The world deserves someone just like you.

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2016: Review and the New

Review:

As the Founder of Brave Avenue I (Candy) am truly thankful for the opportunity to curate Brave Stories from women who can speak into our natural ability to rise up and live passionately. “What’s your story?” has been my go-to question when I’m in a room full of strangers or simply just getting my oil changed. I have always loved hearing people’s journeys, but I never thought a platform would open up for me to actually share with others. Brave Avenue seemed to happen by accident. I was at work listening to Pandora when a group called Boyce Avenue came on. I was digging the song and went to find out more. I mistook the name as Brave Avenue and only found a street name located in a few cities I had never visited. After Google failed to give me a complete answer I went to the source. God let me know he was challenging me to be brave in 2015. To say “yes” when I wanted to say no to discomfort. When I was pregnant with my daughter I had asked God to help me raise a confident and brave girl who would grow up secure and fearless of any challenge. Of course, it’s only natural that he would present me with uncomfortable opportunities for me to tap into bravery. My daughter has an example that she can look up to everyday. We’re only 6 months in and I must say I am proud of the impact Brave Avenue has made. We’ve grown to four regular Contributors, the Brave Stories have been shared in multiple countries, and our Guest Bloggers and Contributors have been impacted by the amazing feedback they receive, even inspiring some to move forward in their passions. Although we are the foundation, we still get motivated to take the next step after reading your comments!

This experience showed me four things:

1-Women need empowered women to lead the way for our younger generation.

2- Our voices matter and are valuable. 

3- Our thoughts and Brave Stories are important and needed. 

4- Saying “yes” can lead you to incredible opportunities only found in your dreams.

The New:

We are so thankful and blessed for all that has happened in this past year. As we review 2015, we are also excitedly anticipating all that will come in 2016 and how we can bravely face it together. As the co-founders of Brave Avenue, we would like to share our intentions and some themes that we have chosen to focus on for this new year.

Ella: “The Hard Way”

In 2016, I will live the hard way. I will not retreat to a cave of easy comfort but will climb the mountain, no matter the weather, becoming stronger each day along the hard way. Clearly, the hard way will be difficult, but I will choose to deny present comfort for future reward while living a life of focus and purpose. “Happiness is a by-product to enjoy, not a dream to seize,” John Townsend.

Jennifer Diane: “This Is Me”

I am finally at that long-waited point of fully embracing who I am and everything that goes with it. Every day, I will openly and unapologetically express, laugh, create and pursue. When the fear of rejection rears its ugly head, I will punch it in the throat and side step it at every opportunity. I am confident that 2016 is a breakout year for me.

Candy: “I will pursue trust.”

This past year has taught me that I have a quiet strength that has the ability to greatly influence change that is bigger than me. In 2016, I will stop breaking promises to myself and confidently trust in Gods promises. It’s time to stop down-playing who I am. When fear attempts to take hold of me with its excuses or reminders of the past, I will boldly call it out. I will no longer be bound by the fear of actually seeing good outcomes.

Stating your intentions for 2016 is not just writing down your to do list for the year. It is about creating healthy lifestyle habits that develop and reveal the authentic you.

Your perspective on how you do things is everything. Your perspective comes from your ‘why’. Why do you want to do more in 2016? Why are you choosing that specific word or theme? Inwardly focused goals are not strong enough to bring about a powerful game-changing outcome. It is when we can step outside of ourselves and see the bigger picture and purpose of our actions when we realize we can truly make a difference and find happiness.

It’s YOUR TURN!

If you are ready to bravely achieve more this year, we challenge you to answer the questions below. Invite a friend to join you.

  1. What is your intention/theme for the year?
  2. How do you plan to accomplish that?
  3. What obstacles/fears do you foresee standing in your way?

 

Be brave and empowered on your journey!

-The Brave Avenue Bravenistas

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