Happy March, friends! We are so excited to have Jo Saxton with us this month to share an excerpt from her new book, The Dream of You. Jo is here to remind us of our God-given purposes and the abundant life offered to us through Jesus, and we hope that her words are an encouragement to you to take back the identity that is already yours in Christ. So gather your friends, speak up about your wildest God-given dreams, and get in the kitchen to make Jo’s favorite crêpes together. We can’t wait to hear how walls are broken down, fears are shattered, and passions are shared around your tables this month!
Who were you before anyone told you who you were supposed to be?
Who were you before life told you who you were allowed to be?
They’re the kind of questions that can give you pause, even take your breath away. Because if we’re willing to go there, our answer often reveals a deeper story. It’s the story of relationships that have shaped the women we’ve become. It’s the story of hidden unrealized potential, or of crushed dreams. The story of how life experiences can shape us, define us, even break us, leaving our identity in pieces, our purpose lost.
Identity matters because we don’t live beyond what we believe about ourselves; we live, love and lead from the inside out. Our sense of identity shapes how we work, rest, and play. It shapes how we build relationships, set boundaries, and resolve conflicts. Our sense of identity affects how we see ourselves, our bodies, and our potential to make a contribution in this world. A healthy, grounded sense of identity flows into how we live into our purpose.
Sometimes life is simply too busy to reflect on those questions. The urgency of daily responsibilities demand our focus and our energy. So we’ve gotten used to our broken identity, found our way to cope and assume there is nothing else we can do. There are moments when we wish things could be different, when we wonder if we were built for more than coping, but … well this is the story of our lives now. This is who we are now, isn’t it?
Can the story of who we’ve become and what has defined us ever change?
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. – Ephesians 1:11-12 (The Message)
God has always seen you, always known you. Always loved you. Furthermore, searing above the broken values of a world that sets impossible standards, beyond your life defining relationships and experiences, God always had a vision of who you are and what you’re here for.
God has always had a dream of you.
It’s the very definition of glorious living:
You have a transformative relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ. And, in Christ, God is still rewriting our stories– with hope, wholeness, redemption. That means it’s not too late for your story to have a new beginning. Where do you need greater freedom and healing in your heart? And flowing from your God given identity – you have a purpose. You have been imbued and infused with ideas and gifts and talents that can express the hands, feet, and heartbeat of Christ in your everyday world. Maybe fear and insecurity and hurt has held you back in the past, but it is possible to let go of broken identities and live the life you were made for.
I think of the battles fought and won for my God given identity and purpose. Some were won over a tear stained Bible, or in private prayer. Others as I knelt at the foot of a cross in church surrendering all over again. Some battles were won in times of worship when I caught a glimpse of how big our God is. But many of my battles were won in an unexpected place; they were won at a table. The kitchen table of a mentor, the dinner table with trusted friends, with family. Honesty. Transparency. Vulnerability. And safety. A place to put down lies and pick up truth. A place for encouragement and clarity. A place for sharing those ideas and passions that refuse to leave you alone. And then your friend tells you it sounds like a crazy God sized dream, and you realize that your purpose is coming to life.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be that surprised. Whenever Jesus was welcome at a table, people didn’t leave the same. Their identities were transformed, their purpose redefined. Their community would never be the same. The same opportunity is ours whenever we gather – to recover God’s dreams for our identity and be unleashed into His purposes together. Glorious living indeed!
Jo Saxton is a speaker, author, leadership coach, church planter and visionary. She is the board chair of 3D Movements and the co-host of the popular podcast Lead Stories: Tales of Leadership and Life with Steph O’Brien. Jo’s latest book The Dream Of You – Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For was released in January 2018. Jo lives in the Minneapolis area with her husband and two children. She loves Starbucks, good times and good friends, and has a special place in her heart for Target.