Sometimes you encounter hearts that are crafted so similarly to yours that it seems impossible to be nothing but immediate friends, even if you’ve never met. I have loved catching a glimpse of Charissa Steyn’s beautiful soul and her passion for adventuring with God. After being featured on her blog several months ago, I knew I wanted to have her here as soon as possible. Her words are stunning and powerful, and it is an honor for her join the tribe today!
I’ll never forget the day my sweet aunt arrived at my doorstep unannounced. She had a file full of papers- doctor and counselor appointments made in my name without my consent. She sat me down at our kitchen table and with a serious and concerned look in her eyes, she told me the truth, “You have anorexia Charissa.”
At eighteen years old, I was quietly wasting away, in denial about my declining health and the decreasing number on the bathroom scale.
I often wonder, how my ugly obsession with weight and appearance all began. I wasn’t the typical eating disorder patient. I grew up in a home full of love and laughter, a dreamy childhood, and a belief that I was beautiful inside and out.
But most diseases start out slowly, in the secret, without us knowing. Looking back, I see anorexia was a symptom of a vicious, deadly disease ravaging the insides of my heart – identity amnesia.
For me, identity amnesia grew when I sought to make a name for myself instead of remembering the name I already had.
Gradually, as life moves forward, we forget who we are. Our passions and pursuits, successes and failures, responsibilities and titles, hurts and hopes, make life more complex and noisy. Almost instinctively we try to find ourselves in the crowds, clutter, and chaos of our days.
Who am I?
We too quickly assume the answer is found in doing more. We get busy becoming a better friend, daughter, mother, sister, athlete, employee, business woman, or student.
But out here we must run to survive.
Constantly chasing after our identity like a mirage, desperate to figure out who we are, is an exhausting feat we were never meant to undertake.
In my life, I was literally running to discover my identity. In a sense, we all are, aren’t we? Our whole body yearns to be better, faster, successful, or more beautiful. In our hunt to feel complete and whole, we run ourselves thin, forgetting the fullness that comes from resting in Him.
Sick and frail, our heart is drained of the nourishment found in being God’s Beloved and feasting at the table of His approval and belonging. It is here, at home in His presence, where we hear our name again.
“You can stop running,” He whispers.
My oldest child is four and has started to write his name. Every day he practices, some days I find it at the top of a piece of paper, other days I notice he’s scribbled it on the seat of the kitchen stool.
D A V I D
He obviously takes delight in writing those five simple letters. Although they sometimes appear backwards or scrambled, I can’t hide the smile on my face when he comes to show me his handiwork.
“You are learning how to spell your name! Way to go!” I say proudly.
The lessons of a preschooler might be basic, but they are the foundational to the rest of the skills they will gather throughout their lifetime.
I wonder what would happen if we practiced spelling our names again?
Four, twenty-four, or forty, we are never too old to carve out time every day to diligently pore over every letter of our name, observing its form and shape, carefully moving our hand from right to left until we get it right.
The antidote for identity amnesia unfolds as we practice writing our name again.
B E L O V E D
Like children what if we became intrigued and delighted by our name again? Inscribing it over everything- our work, our past, our shortcomings, our sickness, our relationships, and our heart.
In a world that likes to define us by what we do or what we’ve done, what we have or don’t have, who we know or don’t know, our name reveals who we really are.
After my aunt left my house that day, I realized I was starving, not just for a meal to fill my stomach, but for the richness of His truth to fill my heart. Later that afternoon, a miracle of healing began to take place.
“I’m hungry,” I declared to my mom. I don’t know if she understood the depths of my raging appetite as she promptly whipped up a batch of chicken enchiladas. There at the kitchen table, in my parent’s home, I began to hear Him speak. He cut through all the complexities and voices of life, and declared,
“Charissa, you are B E L O V E D. Complete and whole in me.”
Although that day was over fifteen years ago, I haven’t stopped coming home to His table to remember who I am. I don’t need to run out into the world to make a name for myself…
He’s already given me one.
Travel Deeper: Deuteronomy 7:6, Psalm 17:8, Psalm 139: 13-18, Song of Solomon 2:2 + 14, Song of Solomon 6:3, Isaiah 49:15-16, Luke 10:20, Ephesians 2:10, Colossians 2:9-10, I John 3:1
Charissa never imagined a life this wild, but has grown to love the adventure of following Jesus. She and her South African hubby have three wide-eyed explorers and have discovered home in three continents. Through her blog + shop, Art of Adventure, Charissa inspires women to travel into the unknown with expectant hearts. Join her on her blog charissasteyn.com or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.