Fear of Losing My Identity

by Susan Whitbeck

I had to go into hibernation this past week after freaking out over the conversation about Tongues on a discussion board. I just had such a wave of fear come over me that I was having trouble dealing with it all. It's been a long time since I experienced this much fear and I had kind of thought I was past most of that. But I guess I was wrong. I asked God to help me understand it better because I thought that would help me. So this is what I came up with. I am sharing this in case it might help someone. I know that fear permeates the teaching of the UPC, and takes on many forms, so this may or may not be something that pertains to someone else.

As I looked back over the last couple of years since I have been questioning things, I realized that the times I experienced the greatest overwhelming fear were the following three areas:

1. Standards, particularly cutting of hair. Not so much when studying them, but when actually going to cut my hair.

2. Oneness vs Trinity

3. Speaking in Tongues

Realizing this, and thinking about these three areas, I saw that these are the three main things that separate us (the UPC and other Oneness churches) from the rest of Christian churches. There are few churches today who have rules of dress or no hair cutting. There is the Amish, and then the Mormons with their magic underwear, a few AG or other Pentecostal churches have the dress standards, but that is about it.

Then there is the Trinity. That is what most churches believe. The few that don't believe in the Trinity, don't believe our form of Oneness. They are groups like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons.

There are many groups who believe in speaking in tongues, but I don't know of any who require it for salvation, though its possible.

These three areas are what formed my identity. They weren't just what I believed in, they had become who I was. And to an extent still am. So my fear was a fear of loosing my identity. This is what defined me for the last 35 years. It set me apart from all the others. And for most of that time I was proud of that apartness (I hate having to say that). I was afraid if these beliefs were no longer mine, I would no longer be me.

Then I wondered who is the real me? Will I be able to recognize me anymore underneath all this? Maybe I will find out there is nothing left of me under there after all. I wasn't sure I wanted to let go of all that stuff I was hiding under. I know this doesn't sound like it makes much sense, but I was thinking with my emotions, not my brain.

So then a light went on. I have been living under the wrong identity. I have been a fraud because I should be finding my identity through Christ and not through some denomination. I know when I finally get though holding on to this stuff, and when I get to the bottom I will find that He is there and that He has been there all along.

I wish I could say that the fear is all gone, but its not. And there are other areas of fear that I still need to deal with. I know there are still going to be struggles as I continue sorting through all these beliefs. That verse in Deuteronomy keeps coming to my mind. "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

This week I thought about a time (about 50 years ago, lol) when I was six and was just learning how to swim. I was at the lake with my Dad and he told me to swim toward him. He was about 5 feet away at the most but he was in the deeper water. I started swimming and I had my eyes open in the water and could see him ahead of me. As I got closer he would step back a little. I kept swimming and he kept stepping back. We went out where it was well over my head but not his. Finally when I was tired, I stopped and his arms were around me and he held me up and he told me I had done good. Even though I was going into deeper water, and I wasn't a very good swimmer, I was never afraid, because I knew he was right there.

That is how God is. He is never far from us. He wants us to learn, grow, do things, discover new things, grow stronger. The water can get rough and there could be treacherous things in the water, but it is never over His head. And He is always there and when we get weary, we can rest in His arms awhile. "And underneath are the everlasting arms."

This writing is the copyright of Susan Whitbeck and is reprinted on this site by permission.

Page added January 25, 2007


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