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  • I am defined by God, not the world.

    I grew up in a small, tight-knit, tribal community in southeastern NC. My family and elders taught me the importance of faith, humility, loving others, and celebrating my culture.

    There was one problem though. I am not the picture of what an American Indian or “native” should look like. My skin is too dark, my hair is too tight, and I certainly don’t fit into the Hollywood image of Pocahontas.

    In my tribal community, I was aware that I looked different from some tribal members, but I knew I belonged in this community. These are my people. This is my family.

    Fast forward to college. I was hours away from home, where Natives were 1% of the population on campus. Most of the students didn’t know that American Indians still exist, and many held harmful stereotypes about us. I faced a lot of stigma, racism, and pushback on my identity and culture.

    You don’t look Indian.

    You’re not really Indian.

    You don’t know who you are.

    You’re confused.

    As you can imagine, this led to an identity crisis. For many years, I struggled with how to define myself. I held on to the culture I was raised in and did All OF THE THINGS to try to prove my identity and worth to others.

    I danced and sang at powwows. I led American Indian organizations on campus. I led activism efforts in the community. I straightened my hair. I did all of this so I could appear more Native. All in the hope that one day I would be accepted by others and confident in my identity. But, none of it was ever enough. No matter what I did, I never felt truly accepted or whole.

    BUT GOD.

    As I became closer to God, I was less vulnerable to the attacks, words, and evaluations of others. God healed the hole in my heart that sought validation from the world. I was set free from how others defined me and became more interested in how God defined me.

    I am a child of God. My identity is anchored in this truth and I live, love, and lead from this reality. (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1, Romans 8: 14-17)

    At times, my Bible study focuses on looking up a specific word and how it is used in the Bible. When researching “confidence” in the concordance, I was surprised at what I found.

    “For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.” -Proverbs 3:26

    “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  -Philippians 1:6

    The world tells us we should be confident in who we are. The Bible says we should be confident in who GOD is. Confidence in ourselves is circumstantial. It is often based on our pant size, how much money we make, or whether we fit in.

    Confidence in God is eternal.

    We can trust that God is who He says He Is. We can trust God’s promises to us. We can trust God to be with us.

    We can trust HOW GOD CREATED US. 

    We can trust what God says about us.

    Because I am confident in my God and my own identity, I will take risks—I will love others, dream big, and think the unthinkable. I will brave myself. (Josh 1, Deut 31:6, 1 Cor 15:58, Eph 6:10)

    THIS is the kind of confidence we want.

    How do we obtain it? By remembering that God is with us, what He has done for us, and what He is doing in us.

    Eternal confidence gives us boldness.

    Boldness to do what God calls us to do.

    Boldness to be who God created us to be.

    Boldness to accept each other’s differences.

    Boldness to walk in the authority of the anointing God has placed over us.

    Friends, don’t allow the world to define you. Only God defines you.

    Don’t change who you are to fit into the world. God created you in a very specific and unique way, to point others to the Kingdom. Place your confidence in Him.