When I was a kid, I danced. Once, I got a trophy for something – I can’t even remember what. The presentation took place in front of an auditorium full of family and friends and was after the big performance of the year. The stage was crowded with the kids who had just finished their performances and we all waited eagerly for the announcement of who had earned a trophy. I didn’t expect a trophy, so when my name was announced, I was shocked. I got up to accept it and then did a little curtsy and everyone laughed for some reason. I still don’t quite know why, if I’m honest with you. Maybe I did it wrong. Maybe I stumbled a bit. Maybe I should dig out the video of the whole thing and find out what happened.
I cringe when I think about that moment because it left me feeling awkward and ashamed for a while – and I didn’t even know why. I couldn’t fix it, couldn’t change it… It was just so awkward. That’s the only word for it. Awkward like an episode of Dawson’s Creek.
There are other moments in life that bring with them a lot more weight of shame and awkwardness. Moments where I’ve dived head first into sin, moments where I’ve stumbled across a line that I swore I’d never cross, moments where words spilled from my mouth before my mind had a chance to stop them. Some moments are those where someone else has said something – abused me, berated me, belittled me, dirtied me. All those moments will define me if I’m not careful.
All those moments will define me if I forget something. All the moments in your life where you have been awkward and ashamed and broken will define you if you’re not careful.
You are more than those moments. In Christ, you are more. You are free. 2 Corinthians 5 reminds us that in Christ, we are a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. Instead of being the awkward confused little girl, or the broken teenager wrestling with mistakes, I am a new creation – and so are you. The stories that used to define you – and the moments that used to be key parts of your identity – no longer matter.
They are a part of your story. But they are not who you are.
You are in Christ.
You are beloved.
You are more than your mistakes, your scars, your stumbles, your tears.
You are more than your parents divorce, you are more than your broken friendships.
You are a new creation.
Don’t forget that. Don’t let your past define you. Let Christ define you.
Don’t let me forget that, either.