My Name Is Forgiven
Who am I? The question pounds from the moment I wake up to the second I fall back to sleep. I open my phone, and I am pestered by a thousand possibilities. Am I a writer? Am I an artist? Am I a linen skirt girl? Am I a leather jacket chick? Red or pink lipstick? Should I be wearing lipstick? Do I care about fashion trends? Who liked my posts? Did those people notice me? Do I need to get my name out more?
Then, I close my phone, and the question wanders around with me. Who am I? I remember in senior year of high school trying to figure it out. I kept plugging ideas in, and yet none of them really seemed to fit me. Scratch that, none of them seemed to touch my itch to be known, understood, and cherished. It seemed like I was in a race that I could never seem to get ahead of, and the stream of question marks never seemed to end. Who am I?
A long time ago, another woman had the same questions, but she found her answer. Her story is in Luke 7:37:
“A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”
This is a woman with a reputable past, and not the good kind. She has wasted years of her life plugging ideas into broken sockets and getting nothing but pain in return. A sinful woman in Jesus’ time usually implied she had a background of sexual promiscuity. This woman ached to be known, understood and cherished.
Isn’t this where sin finds us? Isn’t this where the enemy starts to whisper, “Come to me! I will make you happy! I will make you feel secure! I will take away your questions! I know what you need. I understand what you want. I will cherish you!”
But these are lies. They don’t know us. They did not create us. They do not care about us. They only have the power to distract us. They distract us from the fact that they can’t do what they promise.
This woman needed a rescue from where her search for identity had left her, and that’s when she heard Jesus. She heard and she understood. This Jesus, He was the Messiah, and He could save her.
She took her perfume, and she sought Jesus out. She wept at His feet, and she gave Him everything she had. What greater image of humility and surrender? She anointed His feet with perfume and through the act, acknowledged Him as her Messiah.
Then the scene cuts to a conversation between the Pharisee who was hosting the dinner, and Jesus. Jesus calls the Pharisee out for thinking this woman wasn’t worthy to approach Jesus. The Pharisee thought that Jesus would be disturbed to have a woman like her touch a holy man like Jesus. Listen to Jesus’ response to the Pharisee:
““Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But who ever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven. […] Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”” -Luke 7:44b-48, 50
The Pharisee had denied Jesus the basic acts of hospitality, his actions making it clear that he did not want any sort of relationship with Jesus. He did not want to be identified with Him.
But this sinful woman did.
I want you to catch the passion in her actions. I want you to notice the implications of her actions. She is identifying as His disciple, she is glorifying Him with the honors given to esteemed rulers or priests. I want you to catch the contrast between her and the Pharisee. It’s easy to point and say, “Well, one was nice to Jesus and the other one was sort of rude.” But there is more to it, and it is the key to our answer on identity.
See, the Pharisee wrapped himself in his identity of piety. He is a well-established man. He has a house. He can choose which new teachers to invite over. He’s an authority on the law. That is his identity, he is a Pharisee.
The sinful woman has been handed an identity. She is the woman who sleeps around, who always makes mistakes, who is by definition of Jewish law, sinful, disgraceful, and painfully lost.
What’s interesting is, she doesn’t come to ask if she should change her lifestyle, or if she should sell all her things to be a good person, or to grill Jesus with questions. There is no tension, no competition in her spirit for her own pride. She comes with a repentant and humbled heart already inside of her. She is weeping as her broken identity meets Jesus. Who is she? She doesn’t know, all she knows is that she is a woman unworthy to touch the awaited Messiah.
This question, “Who am I?” will always lead us to the same answer. I am not enough. There is always something to be tweaked, always something that doesn’t quite fit the image. Not tough enough, not sweet enough, not sassy enough, not strong enough, not sexy enough, not skinny enough, not good enough… etc. Which is why we will find ourselves always seeking deeper, farther, and yet never quite finding it.
But Jesus is enough. He looks to this woman, and He gives her a new identity in two sentences. Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.
In an instance, her hopeless spiral is over, and she emerges from that house as a new creature. No longer the sinful woman. She is forgiven. She is faith-filled. She is peaceful. It doesn’t matter that maybe no one else knew that, for she knew - she was changed from the inside out and she would go forth living as an entirely new woman.
This is what I experienced on my summer mission trip in 2017. I ran into Jesus, and He reminded me of who I really am.
I am forgiven. I am faith-filled. I am peaceful. Every woman who trusts Jesus to be her Savior and Redeemer takes on this same identity. Forgiven. Faith-filled. Peaceful.
Some days, it’s hard to believe this, because we’re inclined to believe the Pharisee. “Surely, I cannot be forgiven, I am too broken. I should keep my distance.”
Don’t tell Jesus your limitations. Jesus came for you. Jesus has the power over creation, life, death, and over your brokenness. Jesus did not come to help you feel good about yourself, He came to give you himself. That is where our identity starts, at the empty grave, for once we were lost and now we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”- 1 Peter 2:9
When I open my phone now, I see all the same things vying for me to put my hope, trust, and identity in them. But I know that I don’t have to run that race anymore. Jesus says I am forgiven, faith-filled, and peaceful. Jesus knows, understands, and cherishes me. He died on the cross for me, and He came back from the grave for me. I don’t have to strive so vainly to paint a certain image for myself, or to appear a certain way, or give myself to sins that never give back.
So, now when the world asks me, “Who are you? Writer? Romantic? INFJ?” I respond confidently.
“My name is Forgiven.” I wear His name now and that is all of my identity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amelia Sanders loves sunflowers, words, old hardcover books, and fountain pens. She adores Jesus Christ, and seeks to listen and obey him in her life. Her life verse is Isaiah 52:7, and her prayer is for every girl to grasp the height, weight, depth, width, and power of Christ's love for them.