Christmas Identity: From the Manger to the Cross and Beyond
What is it about the importance of Christmas and how I embrace myself? A Christmas Identity? From that baby in a manger to the cross on which He died and rose again, and still beyond. It matters, friends.
It matters a lot.
And today I am honored to bring you someone who has greatly blessed my 2017 to share this message of hope. Wise, kind, encouraging, and a heart that deeply desires for you to know the depths of God’s unfailing love, I share with you today, Leslie Newman from Journey to Imperfect.
The Importance of Christmas
I looked into those precious baby blue eyes. They seemed to peer right into my soul. We had just come home from the hospital, and I was having my first few moments alone with my sweet baby girl. I couldn’t quit looking into her face. And as her eyes were searching mine, they seemed to be looking straight into my soul.
I felt something I had never felt before, a love deeper than I ever knew. Something that cannot be put into words.
As I rocked her back and forth, I remember wondering at a love like that. It came to me at that moment, just a little wisp of a thought that flickered through my mind, “This must be how God loves me. I understand it better now.”[bctt tweet=”Becoming a Mother gives us a deeper understanding of God’s unfailing love. #chosenandworthy #identity #importanceofchristmas #linkup #hope @jrnytoimperfect” username=”lori_schumaker”]
That was over 20 years ago. In most of those 20 years as I raced through the responsibilities of being a mother and wife in those child-raising years, the joy and wonder of the kind of love that God wanted me to understand became dulled until I could barely see it.
I knew God loved me, of course, He did!
I attended church every Sunday. Reading my Bible and praying, I tried really hard. I tried to be a good mother, a good wife, a good teacher, but there was a lot of comparison going on during the years that I raised my daughter and her brother – and a there was a whole lot of trying to be good enough.
The sad thing was, I tried so hard that I ended up looking in all the wrong places for what I needed the most.
I had lost sight of the one thing that would have really helped me. I couldn’t see the deep love that God had for me and intended for me to know. Because I didn’t understand His love fully, I really didn’t understand my true identity.
But one day, I heard the Lord calling me back as I read Psalm 27:8 – “When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord I will seek.” So I did. I determined to turn my face to His, and I began to seek Him more deeply through prayer and time spent reading His words in the Bible.
What He led me to across the span of several years changed everything.
Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. -2 Corinthians 3:16-18, NKJV
I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. –Psalm 34:4-5, HCSB
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. –Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB
Through these verses, I began to understand that I was not being real with anyone.
In trying to be good enough, I was focusing on myself, not Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 helped me understand that if I would just turn to Him, he could take away the veil from my face. With my own heart blinded to many things, I spent my life behind the mask of who I thought I should be. Without even being aware of it, I was hiding myself. I finally realized I could let Jesus see the real me – imperfections and all. And I could let others see that, too. And once that veil fell away from my face, then the Lord could begin the transformation He wanted me to have all along.[bctt tweet=”I finally realized I could let Jesus see the real me – imperfections and all #importanceofChristmas #identity #ChosenandWorthy #hope @jrnytoimperfect” username=”lori_schumaker”]
When I read Psalm 34:5 I realized I could look straight into the face of Jesus and not be ashamed. He has saved me from all my sin and from my own misunderstandings about who I am. He’s walked through it all, right beside me, helping me along when I didn’t even realize it. There was nothing to be ashamed of, ever.
I began to see that looking to Jesus is looking to glory. And from glory to glory, we are transformed into His image. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. These things were a revelation to me and the freedom I felt lifted a weight from my shoulders.
Hebrews 12:1-2 became my life verse and the theme verse for my blog and the writing that came out of my experience.
This verse showed me in a powerful way that Jesus is the author of my story and of yours. He is the perfecter (completer) of our faith who has set a pathway before us and asked us to persevere. He tells us to keep our eyes focused on Him looking straight into His face. To seek Him for guidance and hope and endurance for each and every situation we face in this life.
We can move forward with a new identity because of what He did on the cross. It’s all about understanding that we are defined by love. Not abilities, not how hard we try, nor anything other than one fact. The fact that we are loved by Him.[bctt tweet=”Who we are is defined by love, not abilities, not how hard we try, not anything other than the fact that we are loved by Him #identity #chosenandworthy #importanceofChristmas @jrnytoimperfect” username=”lori_schumaker”]
And as I write these words today, I think about Mary.
Can you imagine the depth of what she must have felt as she looked into the eyes of Jesus? She knew He was the Son of God – yet there He was, just a tiny baby, born into poverty and in humble circumstances, grace upon grace and glory to glory, lying there beside her in a manger.
That tiny baby was God in human form. He would be loved by a few, forsaken by many, yet still, He came to us so we could look into His face and know Him more fully. He was so in love with us that He would spend an eternity pursuing us with that love. From the manger to the cross, and beyond to the glories awaiting us in heaven, He calls us to turn to Him, looking at Him with unveiled faces, unafraid and unashamed, chosen and worthy, precious daughters of the King!
Leslie is a wife, mother to two, writer, teacher and friend. Currently, she spends her days home educating, reading, writing, and being a full time household manager. Drop by and visit her at her blog, Journey to Imperfect, where she’d love for you to join her in conversations about faith, prayer, and letting go of perfect.
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Loved this post, Leslie! Glad to see you here! Lori, I pray that 2018 will be fruitful for you as a blogger, writer, and speaker, no matter what path God shows you to take. Have a blessed and peaceful Christmas season, and I look forward to seeing you here again in January!
Thanks for visiting today, Sarah! Blessings!
So thankful for and inspired by these words about your process of transformation, Leslie. And, Lori, thank you for this gathering!
Michelle, thank you for reading! Blessings!
Lori, it’s such an honor to be sharing here today. Thank you so much for having me! My prayers are with you as you take time off to enjoy your holidays and be with your family. May God richly bless this time and refresh you. Your blog, your words, your open arms, and the way you point us back to Jesus gives such hope and encourages me in many ways. Thank you my friend!
Amen! We are loved by Him!
What a great word, Lori, and Leslie!
Thanks so much for being here today!
I can so relate to your feelings and thoughts back in the day, Leslie. I was trying to find my identity in being a good mom and good wife, but whenever I failed at those things my identity plummeted too. Thanks for this reminder to anchor our identity in Christ. And thanks to Lori for sharing your story with us today!
Beth, thanks for stopping by today and what you commented about it so common. I think so many of us struggle with that issue. Thankfully, we have Jesus!!
I am so glad you discovered this beautiful truth! Because of Jesus sacrifice we can enter God’s presence without shame because Jesus took our shame. Really knowing that truth changes everything. Thanks for sharing your story
Anne, it does change everything! Thank you for being here today!
I absolutely loved both Leslie’s and Laura’s articles this week!
Leslie- may our identity ONLY be found in Him! This is a prayer I have to return to often.
Laura, I am dreaming of a white-space Christmas, as well. Loved your clever title!
Thanks for the link up Lori!
Rachel, so happy to spend some time with you here today! Thank you for visiting!
Lori, I’m so appreciative of you and your faithfulness. Trust me on this – the exhausted Momma phase will pass but in the mean time – just hang in there; rely on God. That’s not me being cliche – that’s just knowing that if you start there He will provide the insight and wisdom and everything else that is needed. Blessings and rest to you my friend. Hugs!
Nylse, thank you for visiting! Blessings!
“Who we are is defined by love, not our abilities or how hard we try …….” Love that especially Leslie! As a recovering perfectionist, trying hard to do everything well is my default mode. Your words are so refreshing to my heart that needs continual reminders about this. Great post and thank you Lori for sharing it with us. Enjoy your break my friend. It is much deserved??
Gretchen, you and I had the same “default” then! Good to know I’m not alone in feeling that way. : ) Thank you for your kind words and for being here with us today! Blessings!
I so appreciate these truths, Leslie: “I began to see that looking to Jesus is looking to glory. And from glory to glory, we are transformed into His image. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Amen! I am so grateful for transformation and for freedom. True treasures!
Lisa, yes! I think of all that as treasure, too. He is so good! Thank you for visiting today!
I always understand Jesus’ love when thinking about my own children. Thanks for hosting!
Sherry, thank you for dropping by!
Lori, I am hoping my comment went through for Leslie. I will check back later. I got an error message but my message was gone. This one is for you. I am so glad you are taking time to listen for God’s voice. Of course I hope his voice says, “Get back here and post.” I will miss your posts. Blessings, Maree
Leslie, Sorry if you get this twice. I don’t see my comment so I am trying again. I loved your post. I struggle with understanding how much God loves me but when you tie to my children it is so darn obvious. Thank you for your honestly. I love pondering what Mary felt. What an amazing mom.
Maree, the honesty about my own struggles is hard for me, so I really appreciate your thoughts and encouragement. I think understanding God’s love is something a lot of us grapple with, and I’m glad to know I’m not alone in that. Your writing has been a big encouragement to me this past year, Maree! Thank you so much for visiting today. Blessings!
I love this, Leslie, that God loved us so much “that He would spend an eternity pursuing us with that love.” What a wonderful thought! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂
It is a wonderful thought! Thank you for the kind words and for your visit today! Blessings!
Wonderful post, Leslie. Freedom has become my theme as I’ve aged. Cannot imagine living without His Spirit and the freedom that being loved by Him brings. He’s the best. Thanks for sharing today, Leslie and Lori. Hope you and your families are having a wonderful advent season. ((hug))
Such a heart-tugging story Leslie. So much good food in it. I have featured posts about ‘identity’ on my own blog. I am so grateful that my true identity is in Christ. Thank you!
April, thank you. His Word is really good food as you say! I’m grateful, too, that my identity is in Christ. Thank you so much for visiting!
I could so relate to every part of this post. My daughter was born a few days after Christmas and I thought of Mary in an entirely different way.
Ginger, looking into the eyes of an infant has a way of doing that. It’s precious in a way you can’t put into words, as you know! I’m so glad you stopped by!
We are so loved and I enjoyed reading Psalm 34:5.
Thank you so much for visiting! And yes, we are! Blessings!
This just gave Christmas a much deeper, more profound meaning. Thank you!
Lux, thank you for reading and for commenting. Thinking on all He has done and the precious gift we’ve received is profound. We are blessed so deeply!
We certainly are. Hope you had a fun and meaningful celebration. Merry Christmas!
Leslie it was so wonderful to find you writing at Lori’s. This is a message close to my heart. I understand about facades. How freeing it is when we lay our secrets down at the cross…
Blessings to you!
Thanks for having her today, Lori!
Meg, thank you so much for dropping by and reading. Blessings back to you!