beloved warrior

Who do you think you are?

It’s the lie that whispers like smoke, breathes down our necks, and dismantles our vision and hope.

How odd that a simple question can sound more like an accusation.

Who do you think you are?

And as women, we often hear this as the answer: insecure. manipulative. can’t be trusted. gossips. bossy. only valuable if beautiful or married or the mother of children. controlling. catty. easily deceived. victim. used. damaged goods. too emotional. not logical. terrible friends. high maintenance. untrustworthy. dangerous. afraid. too fat. too thin. too smart. too ignorant. too strong. too weak. too pretty. too ugly. too feminine. too assertive. just too much and not enough. on and on and on and on….

Who do you think you are?

I think it’s a question that might change our lives, if answered honestly.

My life today looks very different than I expected or intended. And if I’m honest – with you and with myself – it has required and is requiring more courage than I often think I have.

It seems like every time I have entered into a new season or a new calling or a new opportunity, the voice in my head has always been, “Who do you think you are?”

Who do you think you are? to preach? to write a book? to raise these beautiful children? to pray for someone? to love? to lead a home group at church? to speak up? to challenge authority? to teach Scripture? to talk about marriage? to even try to move with God towards justice? to talk about peace making? to try to work with a developing nation towards justice? to push back on the powerful? to tell your story without sanitizing? to advocate for others?

Who do you think you are?

My insecurities – and answers – are likely different than yours but for me, learning to answer that question with the truth has changed everything.

Our lives often preach a very different Gospel than the one we think we believe. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminded us that we must begin with our own life-giving lives. Our true being brims over into our true words and deeds.

It’s an important question because to truly be able to love God and love others, to move with God to rescue, restore, and redeem humanity, we have got to know who we are.

Who do you think you are?

I’ve started to answer that question with one imperfect phrase: I am a beloved warrior.

Here’s why:

Right at the beginning, God separated day from night, land from sea, created animals and fish and fowl, and then on this sixth day, he creates humanity. And here, after creating man from the dust of the earth, God says in Genesis 2:18, “it is not good for him to be alone. I’ll make him a helper.”

That word, helper, is a Hebrew word, EZER. The word that accompanies ezer is “kengdo” which is often translated as “suitable”  so that is why translators often list this reference for women as “suitable helpmeet.” Many of us have heard a teaching or two on the word helpmeet, which solely focuses on woman as a man’s wife, mother, or homemaker for this defintion. But that narrow view excludes more than 60 percent of women. How many millions of girls and women are we leaving out? Focus on women as “helper” has led to the belief that God gave primary roles and responsibilities to men and second or supporting roles to women in the Kingdom of God. It has even led to practices that communicate that women are second class citizens at home and sadly sometimes in the church. The fallout from patriarchy chokes us still.

Ezer Kenegdo actually means “man’s perfect match.” It is the help that opposes, two parts of equal weight leaning against each other to stay stable and strong. It means that women were created to be man’s strongest ally in pursuing God’s purposes.

In the Old Testament, the word EZER appears 21 times in 3 different contexts: the creation of women, when Israel applied for military aid, and in reference to God as Israel’s helper for military purposes. God isn’t a “helpmeet” in the watered down way we’ve been taught or understood that word in our churches though, right? No, our God is more than that: he’s a strong helper, a warrior, an ever present help in times of trouble, bringing more than simple might or power.

God created the first woman out of Adam’s side, and he named his daughter after an aspect of his own character and nature. By naming his daughters – us! – ezer kenegdo, God did not name women as secondary helpmeet “assistants.” No, women were created and called out right at creation as warriors.

You are a warrior, right alongside our brothers, on God’s mission in the world, an image-bearer. (The other reason why this makes such sense is that it isn’t exclusive to men and women in a marriage relationship: holistically, men and women together in the Kingdom of God are meant to be allies.)

Throughout Scripture, we can see women of valour, women operating in their anointing and created purpose as ezer kenegdos. Warrior is an ethos or attitude, not necessarily a vocation, gathered against the forces of evil and darkness. We are deployed into creation as the perfect ally. And then we have a lineage and legacy of Church mothers, women of God, who were warriors in the situations where God placed them, in ways unique to their temperament and character, callings, gifting, and even choices. Women from Ruth to Rahab, Deborah to Mary Magdalena, Corrie Ten Boom to Evangeline Booth.

As we live in a world desperate for a glimpse of God, desperate for a rescue, crushed by evil and poverty and war and the grind of lonely existence in quiet desperation, we, the Church are part of God’s plan to push back that darkness and make space for his Kingdom. We are commissioned to multiply his image bearers, care for the poor, and minister life and hope and healing in the name of Jesus to the glory of God. We are warriors.

I’m a pacifist so my definition of warrior is a bit more spiritual, perhaps. I see it as an advocate or a peace maker or a shalom prophet, a warrior living into the Kingdom of God, a worshipper, a disciple – courageous and unafraid.

Who do you think you are?

Warrior.

Sometimes the truth of who you really are is a wake-up call, and other times it’s a challenge. Because we’re not after behaviour modification. We don’t want to “try harder” to be warriors. It’s not another addition to the to-do list or an addendum to some weird Proverbs 31 job description: “be a warrior.” No, we’re after transformation.

And so, we are here, where I begin and end always: Jesus. (You know me.)

In 2nd Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes that therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

That old identity from your past or from your culture aren’t actually your identity. Not anymore.

Through the life and ministry of our Jesus, we know what our God is really like. He pulled back the curtain on all the ways we have misunderstood and mischaracterized his very nature. And what did we learn from Jesus: we are loved.

Who do you think you are?

Beloved.

We are worthy of a rescue, worth saving, worth loving. We are the one sheep in the ninety-nine worth leaving everything behind to rescue. We are redeemed. We are whole.

Loved. You are loved. You are loved. You can engage in your life from a place of love because you are.

We believe that we’re only worthy of love if… if we do this or if we do that. That’s what our culture or our broken world tells us, right?

But Jesus does not love us conditionally. In fact, if you look in 1 John 4

This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God….God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

Are you weary? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Get away with me, you’ll recover your real life. Those are the words of our Jesus in Matthew 11:28. Walk with me, see how I do it, learn to live freely and lightly. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Abba invites us to the banquet tables, to communion, to community, and to life in the Vine, not to a religious treadmill or a life of conformity to someone else’s best-case scenario for your life until you finally measure up, until you are no longer too much or not enough.

We’ve not been called to the people-pleasing life, to the approval seeking life, to the bow-down-and-give-up life or the sit-down-and-shut-up life. We’ve been called to the peace-making life, the truth-telling life, the she-who-the-Son-sets-free-is-free-indeed life.

We’ve been called to the spirit-filled and God-breathed life, living out the ways of the Kingdom and the life in Christ to every corner of our humanity. We are, what N.T. Wright calls, parables of hope.

We’ve been called to the life of the beloved. We’ve been called to the life of the disciple.

Who do you think you are?

I am a Beloved Warrior.

Your true identity is this: you are a Beloved Warrior. Start there. And then we live out our lives and our callings, the seasons and roles, the challenges and the victories, the healing and the mourning, from a deep well of love and freedom and wholeness – because we are. Creation tells you that you are created, called, chosen, made in the image of God as a warrior. Jesus tells you that you are loved, you are free, you are redeemed, you are beloved. Even – maybe especially – our imperfect, contradictory lives are singing a beautiful prophetic song of invitation: you are so loved.

Who do you think you are? 

And I know now to say and to live out the truth: I am a beloved warrior. 

And in the midst of my life, as it stands, I’m walking out that truth, sometimes moment by moment, choice by choice, sometimes faltering and stumbling but still walking in faith. Old things are passed away. New things have come.

Wherever life may take us, regardless of our choices or our roles or our story, regardless of the seasons of our lives, of our failures and imperfections, let us make living like we are beloved warriors the radical discipline of our lives, filling our minds and our hearts with the truth of Jesus Christ, and the goodness of the freedom he offers to us as his own.

Who do you think you are? I am beloved. And I am a warrior. 

 this post is based on a sermon that I recently preached at our church

(There is such richness in our identity in Christ – too many to name – but I’ve had my life changed by this one in particular.)

In which I don't mind if my tinies see me on the computer
In which the Spirit inhabits the praises of the people
thank you for sharing...
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  • This is spot on. It all comes, everything comes from claiming our true identity in Christ. This is timely, because it’s something I’m working on and something that is just SO hard for me to remember. Those lies about my identity can get very loud very quickly. So Beloved Warrior. I’m going to start there today. Because it’s a daily battle, isn’t it? To claim and ACCEPT our true identity. A battle, for sure. And thus, we are Warriors. Beloved Warriors.

  • JennaDeWitt

    bah. Thank you. So much love for this, Sarah Bessey. You beloved warrior, you. <3

    • JennaDeWitt

      p.s. “Beloved” is my “One Word” for this year. 😀

  • Sarah, this is so perfectly timed. I’m in a period where I’m going back to basics, examining my true identity, and asking that question ‘Who Am I?’. This spoke powerfully into that question, and encouraged me so much moving forward. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us, and for, honestly, changing my life through it.

  • Megan Westra

    tears. just so many tears.
    thank you.

  • amen and amen.

  • Awesome. I love that you are preaching. I think it’s important that you unashamedly talk about that and give people links to listen. You can and should be excited about what God has done and is doing through you.

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  • You read my mind today. Thanks for speaking truth to this question that faces us all!

  • Brittaney Borman

    One of your best. Love you.

  • Taija Young

    The feeling that we are “too much” and “not enough” has been something on my heart since your post, A Prayer: Belong. I didn’t realize how much that summarizes so much of how I’ve felt about myself, or that it was so widespread among other women. It makes it easier to combat, easier to identify as NOT being in line with what He says about me, when I see it that way. I so appreciate seeing it come up again in other posts, a reminder of who we really are. There’s such an amazing freedom in being Beloved!

    the beauty of true
    freedom is offering all my
    love and affection

    at His feet, without
    worrying if it’s too much
    or not enough… He

    delights in all that
    I am, the perfume of my
    heart poured out to Him.

    It’s never too much,
    and it’s never not enough –
    it’s perfectly His.

  • So great. Exactly the story I want my 7 year old daughter to hear, and what I have seen in my sister and mother. Thanks for articulating it. I’ll be passing it on.

  • Sarah. When you preach … it’s my favorite. 😉 It’s like as soon as I get over one identity issue, I try to pick up another one. I’ll sure take Beloved Warrior today. I love the way you march.

    • I winked at you because I spelled favorite your way, but it keeps being corrected. Just know I’m spelling it your way in my heart.

  • Awesome. So awesome. Who we think we are shapes much of how we end up living.

  • Linda Andres

    “There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.” I am finally learning not to push away those parts of me that I had been taught to see as unlovely. I am learning to accept the broken bits. Perhaps in this process, with the help of the One who has always stuck around even when I have become distanced from others, I will someday know what I am meant to be.

  • Jenny Foster

    WOW! WOW WOW WOW!!! You are on FIRE with this one! I mean, your stuff is good, but sometimes, you are just literally flaming!! Or better said, our creator is flaming through you… thank you for a pastor on-line to me. I wish I could have heard that sermon in person… I read the entire blog out loud and read it as a pastor would say…goosebumps, lump in my throat… choked up voice… oh so good– full of truth. Thank you!!!

  • Oh Sarah, this whole thing is fantastic, but what really hit me is when you said “You are loved”. This is something I forget all the time. Just last week I was talking with a friend and he was giving me some encouragement and advice, and he said “There are people who love you.” And was kind of taken aback by it and then I was like “Oh yeah, I guess I do.” I legitimately forget that I’m loved by people and God. I love people and God with my whole heart, but I have a tendency to forget that that they love me too. Thank you for that reinforcement.

  • Oh dear Sarah.
    Thank you for this. Reminder, it has found a home in me.
    I’m standing with you, as a beloved warrior.
    xo

  • Lisha Epperson

    This is lovely and so full of encouragement. I’ve described myself as an infertility warrior for the past year. an entire year of blogging and carrying that torch. I wondered if I could ever put it down, say something else? Hearing your story at Faith Culture encouraged me that I just might have something else in the way of encouragement or message to offer beyond that specific message of hope. So I’ll take these words and add “beloved” to the way I see myself, completing that vision..making myself – whole. Visiting you for the 1st time and will definitely return. blessings!

  • Alethia

    I’m finding such joy in the responsibility of stepping up, pouring myself out, being the beloved warrior I was created to be. Having just read Jesus Feminist, this post reaffirms for me the LOVE–from Christ, for Christ, for his kingdom–that becomes our medium for every movement as we let go of roles and arguments, self-judgement and listening to the judgement of others, and just get on with it. Joy! Power! Kingdom come!

  • Amy Hunt

    If there’s anything I choose to read today, it’s this. And if there’s anything I choose to believe in my life, it’s this. Because, this truth — that I am beloved, and I am His Warrior — has set me free. It’s the game changer. It’s what shifted my life from being a performance game to a peace-giving river of rest. (I have to whisper to you that just two weeks ago I was struck with an awareness that if there was no more moments in my life here on earth I’d be okay because the peace He’s given me through this truth-receiving is enough. I know I am enough. And this peace He has helped me to SEE and choose to abide in AS life storms in and *whirls and twirl* in front and all around me, is enough. He is truly enough. The peace is truly enough. I am truly enough.) If only we ALL would know this and believe it and find true rest in it . . . eh? It’s this passion that is our great commission. And so, I am so with you in this passionate wanting for us all to know this. And it’s what makes the reality press in so heavy for me: we have a tremendous responsibility to show Him and share Him through our REAL and RAW lives, as they are, as we are . . . to unleash and empower others to live their one true selves . . . and this is our worship, and it’s their freedom (all of ours). According to His will . . . and grace . . . and power . . . to Him be the glory. Amen.

  • Samantha Kaiser

    Beloved is such a rich and meaningful word and your words meant so much to me. Thank you.

  • Kelly Greer

    I know who I am in Christ, “Beloved Warrior.” As a matter of fact my first name means “Warrior Woman.” And my second name is Ann, meaning “full of grace.” I think it comes as no surprise to God that he would find it suitable for my parents to name me a name that means “Warrior Woman-Full Of Grace.” Now, I fought the fight for years in my own strength, but now I yield to him. My battle is not won with weapons of anger, fear or distrust any longer, but rather with prayer, spiritual power and love. Your post here really struck a chord deep down in my very being. You can imagine why. I am a beloved warrior in Christ Jesus. Amen!

  • Gary Ware

    “God created the first woman out of Adam’s side, and he named his daughter after an aspect of his own character and nature. By naming his daughters – us! – ezer kenegdo, God did not name women as secondary helpmeet “assistants.”No, women were created and called out right at creation as warriors.” As many times, as I have observed the progress of a couple aligned and working together, I am still amazed how many still “do not get it”.
    I sort of understand this in the Worldly folks but not among Christians. Excellent expose. I mailed it to all my friends and family.

  • I have believed, all my life, that the great things in life that God pours out into humanity, are for other people and not for me. I have struggled so much with fear and insecurity that it hurt to the core of my being. Only recently I began to think and believe that maybe the great things of God are for me too. So, I started praying for Him to make me a warrior. Today, just when I started hearing the mildest whisper of that very question, “Who do you think you are?” I saw this post in my inbox and was eager to read it. Thank you, Sarah, for not holding back and sharing all you do. Now I know I do not have to become a warrior, because I already am one. My favourite line here: “No, women were created and called out right at creation as warriors.” I’m persuaded, and now have wings to fly!

  • Debbie Dusseljee

    Thank you for so artfully articulating what God has shown me along the way.

  • Patsy McVicars

    THANK you ! I am indeed a Beloved Warrior that walks, at moments, seconds with unsteady feet – at times, to feel so alone, so isolated – then, I do hear the whisperings of spirit and know I am never alone. This ‘post’ is perfect timing as I am speaking at an upcoming event on a similar topic and although I had opened my arms to embrace this opportunity, I have grown nervous and heard the “Who do you think you are” in my head! I remember now to get out of my head, away from doubt and speak my truth with honesty and love — as a beloved warrior walking this earth plane with my heart leading the way…..

  • Wow. Thank you. I had to add a link to this in my latest blog post. So glad I read it today. x

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