Healthy You: Unique

Healthy You: Unique

Throughout this Healthy You study we’ve gone deep into some wonderful, uncomfortable, intense ways God works in us and calls on us to live. We’ve studied how we are called to find rest in Him, what it means to have loving relationships, that God paves the way for a fruitful life, and defined our identity as children of God. Now we will explore why God made each of us unique.

‘Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ‘

Isaiah 64:8

Why are we each so different?

Our world is constantly pointing out differences as if it were a terrible thing not to be molded to confusing worldly expectations. We cry for conformity while chasing away inequality. We shout for love and unity while creating hate and division. While the world is drowning in mixed messages, seeking acceptance yet missing the point more often than not, we are blessed yet again with another way our Heavenly Father provides clarity. God has blessed each of us with our unique individuality.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

We were each created as unique parts of the body of Christ and given a place in His plan, paved just for us. Our whole being was designed by our divine Creator, and each of us called to a special mission aiming for the same goal. Every one of us has different skills, traits, talents, struggles, successes, failures yet all of us were blessed with our specific set of tools for an ultimate purpose.

‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”’

Matthew 28:19-20

Before Jesus ascended into Heaven He told the disciples that once He was gone they were to make disciples of all nations. They were given what we call “the Great Commission” and called to teach others about Christ, far and wide. When we come into a relationship with Christ we too inherit this commission.

God gives us so many instructions throughout scripture about how to live and carry out His good work, and Christ also showed us that there are different ways to do His work in a variety of situations. The ways we carry out this great work will be particular to who God has made us as individuals, what blessings He has given us, and will be catered to the situation and persons involved.

Not everyone will be called to the same conversations, service, relationships, or situations and we will all be given wisdom and guidance in our own time and way as God determines.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10
Why am I so different
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It is too easy to fall into a trap that claims we have to preach the gospel, talk about Jesus, and teach others all in the same ways as one another, but God didn’t make us cookie cutters. He made each of us different in our own ways. He blessed us individually with the Holy Spirit to guide us along our unique path, and He calls us out onto different creeks and rivers all leading to the same ocean. Our differences are blessings to use and unify us within the one mission to bring others to Him in the different ways God knows are needed in this world.

‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ‘

Romans 12:2

Each of us has a unique story and testimony, different from anyone else’s, and each has been given our different skills, blessings, and path to be used for the glory of God’s great plan. Our differences are designed to be cherished and used for good. We are not meant to be like the world, but instead thank God for making us the way we are on purpose – for His purpose. Let the Spirit guide you on the path God paved for you and in the ways He calls you to carry out your calling.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:14

‘If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. ‘

Romans 14:8
Healthy You: Identity

Healthy You: Identity

Have you ever been denied? Rejected? Trolled? Shunned? Wronged? Have you ever wondered “who am I supposed to be?” or “what am I supposed to do?” So many things can impact our identity, but only one thing should define it.

Growing up I experienced all of these forms of rejection and more as I struggled to navigate life’s raging waters toward self discovery. I was never satisfied and never happy. I wanted so badly to make a name for myself, but the only names I was making were “loser”, or worse. I took on these names given to me by my peers and that became my identity. I conformed to how others thought of me, and I paid dearly for it.

Even though I’d accepted this as my identity I longed for something more. I knew there was something more for me than this fate as a doormat nailed to the earth.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

When I made the decision to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior, I gave up the identity my peers had tagged me with. All the years spent believing I was worthless, unlovable, disgusting, and useless no longer named me and I began to heal. I began my journey as a Child of God.

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

2 Corinthians 5:17

What does it mean to be a child of God?

Being a child of God is to be completely transformed, from being led by the world to being led by the Holy Spirit. You seek to please God, long for His love, and obey His instruction. You are no longer chained to your worldly, sinful brokenness, but set free by the love of Christ who paid with His life so that you could be forgiven and be in a relationship with God.

‘For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.’

2 Corinthians 5:21

With this new name comes your calling as a part of the body of Christ. Each part of this body is given a path and calling, guided down the path He has instructed you to go. As you walk down this path with Christ, growing in faith as you learn more about Him and how to trust Him more, you also learn how to live better as an example of Christ and this identity as a Child of God.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:27

As we grow into this new identity, growing in His guidance and care, experiencing tests, trials, failures, and successes, we find that there is so much grace, blessing, and wonder in this relationship. We begin to bear fruit in this world, putting Christ on display, and sharing with the world what it means to identify as a Child of God in hopes of planting seeds that will also bear much fruit in their own time.

Bearing fruit is not easy work, and we will face a new kind of rejection as we plant and sow, but while we may be rejected by the world we will always have God to lean on, look to, and sustain us through any trouble that comes.

Where does my identity come from
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I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

Coming into your new self is a beautiful experience. It has its ups and downs, it is not always easy, but it is always worth it. If you have yet to take on your new identity, you can do that now, today, if you seek God out, bring your sin and brokenness to Him, seek forgiveness from a Father who loves you, and believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior who paid with His life and rose again for your sins so that you may be forgiven. Seek a place in this family and allow God to transform you into His child as He so desires you to be. Take on your new identity as a Child of God and see what wonders God has in store for you.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

2 Corinthians 5:15
Healthy You: Prepared

Healthy You: Prepared

I think we can all agree that talking about this pandemic is like playing a broken record. It is hard to feel like anything new, let alone anything good, could come from this whole experience. By now a lot of us are exhausted by worry, absorbed by the questions we all want answers to, completely stir crazy, and stuck between not wanting to hear another word about it and feeling like we need to hear every detailed update all at once. I think we can all agree that none of us were prepared for times such as this.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

When we live in a constant state of worry and panic, and we focus on all the chaos suffocating our society, we become preoccupied with things of the world and lose sight of what God is doing in the midst of it all. God has a plan. God is prepared. We can trust in God’s plans because His plans are for our good, our future, and for hope. He literally knows every detail of the past, present and future and has already determined how all of it is going to be used for the good of those who love Him. We can choose to be guided by God’s wisdom, hope, and good or we can make our own path focused on things we have no control over, leaving us stressed, worried, and no better off for it.

‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ‘

Romans 8:28

We all have a purpose and calling

Generally speaking, our purpose is to come to Christ, then go out into the world and bring others to Him as well. More uniquely, we each have our own God-given calling that is special to each person. God not only provides the plans but also provides everything we will need in order to accomplish that plan.

‘Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? ‘

Matthew 6:26

Sometimes where God leads us doesn’t fit what we want or expect, and it’s easy to grow impatient as we try to navigate His timing. We think we know the right way, the right thing, the right time and it doesn’t make sense why we are still waiting. When we focus on our own wants we are quick to veer off His path, but when we stay tuned into God and are patient with Him, we find a much more blessed path than one we would try to create ourselves.

‘ The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. ‘

Proverbs 16:9
How can I be more prepared
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Jesus shows us so many examples of pure faith in God’s timing. All the way to the cross Jesus trusted God’s path for Him and trusted that God’s plan was for good. He was patient as each piece of His journey unfolded, and leaned into God, praying for guidance, and when God said “go here” Jesus went. It took many years and lots of pain and suffering for God’s plan for Jesus to unfold, but through that time and pain, God had a plan to bring His people back into a relationship with him.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

Every one of us is part of God’s design

He made all of us, and those who have chosen to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, who choose to have a relationship with God through their salvation in Christ, are all called to God’s great plan which He has paved for our good. He has the entire plan settled, and He calls us to trust Him and the road He’s made. He leads us away from our old selves, leaving behind the desire to live for ourselves and walk with Him in His ways, welcoming His spirit as our guide. We have opportunities every day to walk with God or to walk away, but no matter our choice God is prepared and His plan will always prevail.

‘Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ‘

Philippians 3:13-14

‘ Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. ‘

Proverbs 3:5-6

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Psalm 32:8

‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ‘

Ephesians 2:10
Healthy You: Relationships

Healthy You: Relationships

Self-esteem feels like a fickle thing. It can ebb and flow with the tides of each day. Sometimes we feel great, floating along as if on water, ready to take on anything that comes our way. Other times we feel utterly wrecked like a ship smashed into a shore being picked apart by scavenger birds. We turn on the news and feel our hearts break or soar. A phone call or work assignment can leave us deflated or encouraged. The words of a loved one, a stranger, or a friend can be the pick-me-up we think we need or the last straw to a terrible day. We surround ourselves with people or things that we expect will satisfy us. We look for our worth in our relationships with people and possessions alike.

Self-esteem is our estimate of ourselves. It is how we feel about and view ourselves, our abilities, and our value. We estimate what we can or cannot do, have or deserve, and our self-estimate can be too easily influenced by someone else’s estimate of us.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

1 John 3:1-3 ESV

When I first came to Christ I had friends I considered the best I’d ever had, and expected them to stay so for years to come. I finally had a recovering relationship with my dad, was close with my siblings, and was surrounded by people for the first time in my life. I changed, though, when I began my relationship with Jesus. It is said throughout scripture that we will become new when we start this relationship with our savior and I was a living testimony of this. I had no idea I was different but everyone around me saw it.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

In choosing a relationship with Jesus most of my other relationships ended. That was a huge hit to my self-esteem. In this, though, I realized that God was calling me out of unhealthy relationships that were crushing my self-esteem with lies and conformity and into a relationship with the one who would show me that I am worth so much more than what the world says I’m worth.

Through this, I have gained new self-esteem that I never experienced while looking at what the world said I should do, what my friends thought of me, and how my family treated me. I no longer estimated myself based on my relationship with the world, but instead found my value in Jesus.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2 ESV

We live in a world full of broken people, ourselves included, who all have a broken estimate of ourselves. God, on the other hand, sees us all as precious and valuable. He made each of us just the way we are on purpose and sent His Son to be a sacrifice so that we could have a relationship with Him, all while knowing we are broken and loving us anyway. God hard-wired us to desire a relationship with Him and His people, but often we disregard Him and chase after worldly things and approval, love, attention, and fulfillment from other broken people, placing our estimate far below God’s value of us.

‘You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. ‘

Psalms 63:1-8 NIV
How to identify healthy relationships
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One of the biggest lessons we can learn while on this earth is that we don’t need, nor should we seek, the approval of the world around us. We don’t need to seek our worth in this world because God has already told us our worth when He sent His son to die so that we could have a relationship with Him.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Colossians 3:2 ESV

What are you chasing after?

Are you seeking approval from other broken people? Are you placing your value in earthly treasures? Is your self estimate based on what others think or say about you? Does your self-esteem plummet or rise because of your circumstances or your relationships with people?

When we put our relationship with God first we find our true worth and learn what healthy relationships look like between people. Coming into a relationship with Jesus allows you to get to know Him better, and in turn learn how to live better. Put your relationship with Him first in your life and He will show you that your true worth is priceless.

‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “ Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. ‘

Romans 8:1-17 NIV
Healthy You: Rest

Healthy You: Rest

In today’s society, we face conflicting views, stigmas, and expectations about rest. One side of the coin touts that idleness equals laziness, time is money so don’t waste it sitting still, and that we should always be doing something. The other extreme claims that taking time for ourselves often and putting ourselves as top priority all the time is what we deserve, and that others should put our opinions, wants, desires, perceived needs, appearances, wealth, and fame above all else. If we listen to what the world says we will certainly be left confused and wondering what on earth we should do.

Fortunately for those who have a relationship with God, He helps us to understand how we should seek and value rest. Looking to what God says is the only way to find true rest and peace in a never satisfied world.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6

We need to remember that this world is full of broken people, ourselves included. In Isaiah we are compared to sheep. Sheep like to wander off, always chasing a patch of green grass way off in the distance, wandering away from the love, care, provision and protection of their shepherd. We chase after those little patches of attractive impulse, leaving behind what God is trying to provide for us. This tends to leave us feeling drained, afraid, overwhelmed or even confused. We become restless as we drift away from His instruction.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalms 23:1‭-‬6

Those two extremes about rest are both completely inaccurate views. What we really need is to rest in the knowledge that God is in control. He is our shepherd, will always look after us, and will quiet our soul and provide us with the rest we need in this chaotic world. He has given us a new identity in Him and instructs us in all areas of our life so that we never need to chase after anything because He provides it all.

How do I rest and relax?
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Being always on the move or incredibly idle are neither right ways of living. There is a time for rest and a time for work. Even God worked 6 days to create the whole world then rested the entire seventh day. He calls us to rest, to sleep, to be filled with His peace. He wants us to work hard for His Kingdom, but He also knows we need to take time to rest.

‘In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. ‘

Psalms 127:2

Allow yourself to rest and not always be in the hustle and bustle. Don’t toil in vain making a road when He already has the path paved for you, but don’t sit on the curb while your path is being paved ahead of you waiting for you to step out onto it.

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