Thursday, March 17, 2016

Paint by Number Identity

Liking words and liking spreadsheets are not mutually exclusive. I learned in my call center days that I love a good spreadsheet. Don't even get me started on color-coded conditional formatting.

Now that I write full time, I find other ways to apply this love. I've made spreadsheets to record and predict how big my puppy is getting, to manage my budget, to track my novel word count, and more.

Even if I don't have a spreadsheet for it, there are some numbers I watch very carefully.

Am I a worthwhile writer? Let me check how many pageviews I'm getting.

Am I pretty? Let me check the scale.

Am I rich? Let me check the bank account.

I look at those orderly, black and white numbers, and I figure that's it. It's the result. It's a fact. That's the number I produced by my hard (or halfhearted) efforts. I deserve that number, so I print it off, pin it to my shirt, and wear it like a Miss America sash or a red letter, depending on what that number happens to say.

I'm reminded of David and his census.
Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.
1 Chronicles 21:1, ESV
What forces are inciting me to tie my identity to a number? And how about you?

The truth is, God doesn't call us by number. He calls us by name. Our identity was never supposed to be about what scores we could earn from scales, bank accounts, and platforms. It's about the identity Jesus gives us.


Maybe that's why I find a better identity for myself when I turn away from the numbers by writing. With a pen in my hand, I end up someplace truer than I started. I uncover more of the lies I'm telling myself, I apply my faith to situations where I hadn't paused to do so in the past, and I remember God's love and truth.

Writing often leads me back to the words of my Creator, the best place for all of us to find our identities.

If you, too, struggle with identity and labels, take a look with me at some numbers and words we'd be wise to remember in our quest to relabel ourselves.


(All verses taken from the NET version of the Bible.)

Number: 43:1 Words: Protected, Called, His
Isaiah 43:1, Now, this is what the Lord says, the one who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: “Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you. I call you by name, you are mine."
Number: 43:4 Words: Precious, Special, Loved
Isaiah 43:4, Since you are precious and special in my sight, and I love you, I will hand over people in place of you, nations in place of your life.
Number: 43:10 Words: Witness, Servant, Chosen
Isaiah 43:10, "You are my witnesses,” says the Lord, “my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may consider and believe in me, and understand that I am he."

Notice he identifies us by tying us to himself and reminding us of who he is? That's vital.

The better we understand who he is, the better we understand who we were created to be.

God and his love for us are constant. Our value was never meant to fluctuate with numbers.


Isaiah 43:15 says, "I am the Lord, your Holy One, the one who created Israel, your king."

One. That's a pretty simple number.


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