How Then Shall We Live?, Identity

Striving: For Breath & For Rest

The beginning of this semester was awesome for me. I loved my classes, I was on top of all my assignments, I was getting 7+ hours of sleep every night, and I had a certain amount of free time to see my friends.

I had so much energy and drive that I was actually working ahead in all of my classes. Not only did I feel good about my grades, but I also felt good about myself. I forgot what a break felt like- I was accustomed to “overworking” myself (even though it didn’t feel like it) and not taking much time to rest.

Then Fall Break came, and for the first time in months I let myself breathe. That breath turned into twenty breaths, and then I kept breathing until a deathly, overly dramatic gasp escaped me on Tuesday night.

I found myself completely taken aback at all the time I had wasted and all the homework I had due the next day. My resolve turned from “finish well and before schedule” to “get it done five minutes before it’s due.” I started struggling to get things done, losing my initiative to start projects (or finish them), and just feeling really weighed down.

I’ve felt like that ever since then- no perseverance, no satisfaction, no hope. I really don’t want to do much of anything, especially assignments, and I don’t get any satisfaction from the things I end up completing. Instead of finding joy in learning, I find myself checking the time in every class… in theory, in worship, in chapel, in voice lessons.

I’ve been spending my free time alone, trying to get rest, but it’s never satisfying. Without good grades to give myself worth, and without spending time with friends to tell me I’m loved and appreciated, I feel empty. I feel like I’ve lost my identity as a good student and a good friend.

I feel lost. 

I don’t know how to change myself and I don’t want to put in the effort to try. If I can’t live my life well, I just want to give up.

Obviously I’m living selfishly right now. If I had streamers and cake, I’d throw myself a pity party (and none of you would be invited, because none of you would come, because everyone hates me, and I’m going to die alone with my cats).

Now, of course that’s an exaggeration… but sometimes that’s how it feels. And I’m actually not sure if this blog is even relevant or useful or interesting to anybody at all, but I can’t really think about anything other than my lack of perseverance.

I’ve been praying for help, but it’s not all up to God.

Some of this is riding on me.

I think a lot of it has to do with how I think of myself.

I’m not a machine, even though sometimes it seems as if my professors think so.

I can’t keep pushing myself without rest. So where does my rest come from?

Obviously not in my accomplishments. Not in my relationships. Not in my pride…

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

This is what I need to hear. Jesus is telling me to drop my load and follow him… To find rest in the Father and to give up my striving after the wind.

To find rest…

I don’t think that means I have a free pass to drop out of college and to live with my parents the rest of my life. But, I do think that it means that my idea of rest is all wrong. I can’t rest in myself. I can’t expect twenty-minute naps to relieve my soul.

What can do that is resting in my Savior and giving up my expectations of myself. I need to follow His agenda, not my own. My goal isn’t to make it to the finish line, but to fix my eyes on Jesus until I get there. Only then do I find true rest.

~ Rebekah


Fire Drills Don’t Save Lives or Things…

“I feel like I wouldn’t like me if I met me. Oh, I feel like, you wouldn’t like me if you met me.”

 -from Tegan and Sara’s “You Wouldn’t Like Me”


I grew up in a nondenominational Bible church. As I’ve moved through various nondenom venues of Christianity (Bible Studies, Church camps, Sunday School, retreats), I’ve noticed that there seem to be a few themes that are popular for Christians to talk about. The topics are important, but sometimes they can be dealt with on a shallow level. In thinking about this, I came up with a quick reference chart for some of these.


Topic Brief Explanation Easy Application


If you’re a woman, you find your identity in what you look like. You should stop using mirrors. Focus on your inner beauty [you can even quote Proverbs here, and you’re golden].
Sex You shouldn’t think about it unless you’re married. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Unless you’re protesting sex trafficking.
Grace You get something that you don’t deserve. Don’t worry about not measuring up. No one does! That’s why surfer-dude-Jesus came, so we could all be “cool.”
Missions God wants everyone to be saved, but He’s going to send everyone to hell if we don’t get to them first. Evangelize in the malls! Proselytize at school! Make sure everyone knows where you stand on key political issues!


Here’s where I get stuck: I can recognize that these perspectives are bankrupt. But in recognizing that, I want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Whenever a speaker or writer starts to talk about identity, a voice in my head says, “Here we go again. Ya, ya, whatever. It’s just something Christians like to talk about, because it makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside.”

And so I tune out.


This week in Evangelical Theology, Dr. Raith was talking about Purgatory. The most impactful thing he said about it, though, was this, “You might not be comfortable with the idea of Purgatory, but it is one way a group of Christians have answered a problematic question. You can’t just say, ‘Well, I don’t like that answer.’ If you’re going to disagree, you have to come up with a better answer.”


My dorm just had a fire drill: sirens, everyone meeting in the parking lot, all that jazz. And so, like everyone else, I picked up myself, grabbed some homework and my coat, and left.

Fire drills force you to pay attention to your world, and they force you to take action.


Monday’s class period on identity was kind of like a fire drill for me. It said, “Jewel, the way you’ve thought about identity, perfectionism, and what God thinks about you is wrong. Something needs to change.”


Fire drills themselves don’t solve any problems. They don’t, by themselves, save lives or things. But they alert and prepare people for the unfortunate possibilities.

Reading Noland doesn’t solve my issues. But it forces me to face the problem.


~ Jewel