Written by Larissa Segara, originally in Bahasa Indonesia
Have you heard the story of the little eagle which was raised as a chicken? Every day, he ate and played with the other chickens, so much so that he believed that he was one of them. One day, he saw an eagle flying high above, and gazed at the magnificent bird in awe. On noticing, the mother hen quickly told him, “That is an eagle, they live up there. Don’t ever think of being like them, they are different from the rest of us who stay on the ground.” As a result, the poor little eagle behaved as a chicken for the rest of his life.
How tragic it is when one does not live according to his or her true identity! Yet, as redeemed people of God, we often do the same, leading lives that do not reflect our true identity in Christ.
For almost six years, I let my relationships define my identity. I did not feel complete without a companion, so I started a relationship with a non-Christian man without hesitation. At the beginning, I believed that I could eventually turn him into a Christian.
But things turned out the other way around. As time went by, I became more and more dependent on my boyfriend. I started to distance myself from my family, friends, and even from God. I devoted my life entirely to my boyfriend, and started to believe that I could not live without him. That’s when I realized there was something wrong with my thinking—my boyfriend had become my idol. But I did not know what to do. Even when problems arose and we started to grow apart—to the point when he wanted to end our relationship—I refused to let him go. We had talked about our future together, and I did not want it to end. So, I tried my best to keep the relationship going.
Five years into our relationship, I went to another city in Indonesia for two months while he moved to another country. There, my boyfriend did things that broke my heart. The worst was when I found out he had cheated on me. For many days, I prayed and asked God for strength to get out of the relationship. Finally, with a heavy heart, I decided to break up with my boyfriend. Not too long after that, he found a new girlfriend.
At first, it seemed impossible to go back to a normal life. I would wake up every day with my heart racing, overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. I lost my appetite and did not want to do anything. There was no peace and no hope in life. On the one hand, it was difficult to forgive my ex-boyfriend. On the other hand, I found myself recalling our moments together, although I knew some of them were not right in God’s sight. I was like the Israelites who, despite being delivered from slavery in Egypt, compared their new life with their old days. There was also a tussle in my heart: I wanted to pray, but every time I sought to come to God, I heard a voice telling me that I did not deserve to because I had hurt God with my disobedience.
Just as I was at my lowest point, my church encouraged us to allocate time for prayer and fasting for one week every month, over a year. The senior pastor encouraged every one of us to pray and fast, and to seek strength from God alone.
So, for the first time in my life, I decided to fast and set aside quality time with God. Previously, prayer was little more than a religious routine. When I did so, I immediately started to see how God had allowed these painful experiences to happen so that I could grow spiritually. He had saved me from a future that would not please Him, and was teaching me to love Him more than anything else and to forgive. I thank God that He never abandons His children. Meanwhile, Psalm 34:18, which says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”, exposed the lie that had stopped me from going back to God.
Month after month, I kept praying and fasting, and asking God for His strength, peace, and comfort. One gloomy afternoon, while I was praying, an indescribable joy came into my heart: I knew that while everything would not become better overnight, God was slowly restoring and renewing me.
Today, by the grace of God, I can say confidently that my identity is no longer defined by any relationship I have. Having a boyfriend does not make me a better or worse individual. My identity and my future is defined only by God, the Creator and the owner of my life. And while I occasionally feel doubt about my identity as a redeemed person, God’s Word wards off the devil’s attacks. I am reminded that Jesus died to redeem us from our sins so that we who believe in Him can have a new identity as God’s children (John 1:12; 1 Peter 2:9).
I hope that you too will be encouraged by this truth.