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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Identity: untangling the entangled

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3

So begins the story of what happens when creatures who were meant to experience no shame become immersed in it and who were meant to get all their identity from their Creator turn to one another and anything around them to find it instead. Personally, I think shame plays such a huge role in our whole tragic story. I find it intriguing that Paul doesn’t mention it in Romans. It is, after all, what is so blatantly obvious in Genesis. But surely it is most true that although we knew God, we neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him and our thinking became futile and our foolish hearts darkened. Not to go on a complete tangent, but no wonder Jesus says God reveals things to the little children and not to the wise and learned! The corrupt and darkened thinking of the unredeemed flesh will never fully come to a Christ-centered conclusion anyway. The kingdom of God must be received as a little child.

I love psychology. I tell my friends that if I was living my life in an unredeemed state and devoid of God, I would have a PhD in psychology and work in marketing and advertising while using all my acquired knowledge to deceive people into buying things they don’t need or want. Thankfully, God has much better and wiser plans for my life! Thankfully, I never have to live in the depravity of my flesh without God.

You must be asking yourself, why did she suddenly start talking about psychology? She goes from theology to psychology as if they were interchangeable, and it was a natural thought. What is that? Well, it is a response to my belief that all science is submitted to God and His truth. Science that says His truth is not true is futile thinking. Psychology can never disagree with the Bible and what is recorded in Scripture. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t. Shame, identity and pain are major themes in the human story whether it is told clinically in the realm of science or theologically in the realm of faith. What destruction does sin wreak on the human mind, body and spirit? How does God heal it back together again?

The way my psychologist sees it is that when humanity fell, we began to look at everything around us, ourselves and each other for our identity. We ceased looking to the only true and right source of it: our Creator. Psychology is about untangling what is entangled. As we have fallen and been raised from infants in a fallen world, our being and sense of self becomes wrapped up in the things and people around us (idols). Healing is about untangling our hearts from all these things, so we can know and experience God as we were meant to experience Him. The untangling of one’s heart from what entangles it can at times be a very painful process. This is sanctification.

Sometimes I wonder if there is anything in life that is truly unspiritual. Surely eating an apple has nothing to do with good or evil. Yet did not eating an apple plunge us into all this spiritual misery in the first place? There is certainly no spirituality in individual inanimate objects, yet my relationship with those objects – how I use them – is distinctly spiritual. How I use them is about relationship, and what is about relationship in my life is always spiritual. Because my relationship with the homeless man on the street, my erring sister in Christ or the human I consider to be the love of my life is distinctly revealing about and seriously impacted by my relationship to Jesus Christ. Life is interwoven, and my heart must be untangled so I can worship God alone.

Life is about relationship. No wonder God so often calls “idolatry” adultery in the Bible. When my heart is entangled by all that is around me, it is betraying my relationship with Him who is to be the sole recipient of my worship. After all, it is impossible to truly love my neighbor as myself if I have not first executed the greater commandment: to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength.

I hate the word idolatry because I don’t see Jesus using it or the apostles either. Call it what it is, a betrayal of intimate relationship with our Savior. Adultery is adultery, and so is idolatry. Those words seemed so similar to me as a child. I could hardly “hear” them apart. It is fitting how very similar they actually are.

Untangling my entangled heart has been very painful. I can’t do it with words or even surface level actions. It must take place in the deepest recesses of my being. It is likely to take place with pain and tears. I am studying the book of Acts. It struck me today that once Paul and Barnabas said, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” So it is.

What is God currently untangling your entangled heart from? Which relationships, roles and activities in your life inform you about who you are? What would it take for you to receive this information about your identity from God instead of what tangibly surrounds you?


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