Your Story: Amanda Whitehead

Reclaiming Lost Identity
written by Amanda Whitehead

Amanda pictured with her Mother.

No one is a stranger to hurt and pain. While the causes vary, the feelings are experienced by all of us. My story is about my flawed attempt at handling my emotional life, the aftereffects of that attempt, and the journey of finding real healing and learning to walk in wholeness. My story is a Jesus story.

I came to believe certain things about myself as I navigated my school years, unwittingly attempting to find definition. None of them were spoken over me by my parents or loved ones; I picked up and accepted them as I learned the ugly art of comparison. Carrying these falsehoods around like a heavy dark shroud, I spent the bulk of my teens and twenties trying to be perfect…to be extraordinarily productive…in order to earn value. I hid myself in busy-ness. I navigated a few significant broken relationships. I arranged my world to foster the delusion that anything lacking was lacking because I simply didn’t have time for it. Every choice I made, every motivation, was silently influenced by my warped identity. I was set up for surface success, but it was all built on a foundation of failure and misery.

Eventually the hurt and loneliness I felt led to the discovery of an emotional light switch. When it wasn’t convenient to feel, I learned to turn it off. I thought I’d found a secret that made me powerful – feeling pain was in fact optional. Unfortunately, control of the switch is eventually lost if used improperly or too frequently. Mine wound up stuck in the off position and I found myself entering my thirties in complete numbness with no idea how to bring about an emotional thaw.

In medicine, numbing agents are given to patients when they are in pain too great to bear. These drugs are only useful for a limited amount of time because while they are capable of blocking pain, they block everything else as well. A handshake, a pat on the back, an embrace – all of those sensations are lost to the numbed area. Emotional numbness is the same. It is not selective; it takes the good with the bad and leaves you with nothing. The existence of an emotionally numbed person is barren, flat, and empty. It is not life.

Somewhere along the way, I lost myself. But God is always faithful. Even though I was too numb to hear his voice, he sent someone across my path who noticed my handicapped emotional life and set me on a path toward healing. My process involved a doctor and supplements, prayer and forgiveness, and a journal and rest. Before long my emotional life was restored with some pain to face and walk through, but mostly with great joy that I’d missed out on for years.

But my story doesn’t end there. Had God simply given me that thaw, eventually I would have frozen up again. We had to deal with the root. Together, we began a most exciting journey – one that destroyed the shroud of a false identity I hauled around for most of my life, replacing it with who I really am…the person Daddy says I am. I call it a journey because it’s not a job I think we can complete in this life. God will have new things to speak over me for as long as I am willing to listen. With each new facet discovered, I become more whole, more fulfilled, and more free…and it is wonderful!

Identity informs our entire life: how we view ourselves affects the way we relate to others, our relationship with God, the goals we are willing to set, the dreams we dare to pursue…everything. We cannot afford to get it wrong. I encourage you to regularly find a place where you can be alone, bring a pen and paper, and ask God to tell you how he sees you. Then be ready to get embarrassed, because he sure does love gushing on and on about his kids! It’s time for all of us to reclaim our lost or stolen identities and begin building lives of wholeness based on who our Creator made us to be!

Amanda Whitehead

Amanda Whitehead is a vocational minister serving at Mount Hope Church. A singing, acting, and painting Genesis 1 creative, she loves bringing order to things and authoring her blog, girl in process. Passionate about nurturing creativity and drawing out God-given identity in others, Amanda remains endlessly thankful to the dear ones who have done the same for her.

Follow Amanda on Twitter: @AmandaJanal.

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13 thoughts on “Your Story: Amanda Whitehead

    • Thank you! I’m finding that vulnerability and transparency brings a lot of freedom…things have a harder time haunting you when you shine a light on them! Thanks for journeying with me!

  1. Great post. I believe that at some point in everyone’s life, a person stops thinking that being busy and endlessly productive is a sign of success. Just “being”, and being comfortable with who you are, and are not, is a much better sign of success. Many turn outward, when in reality they should be looking inward, as you finally realized. Congrats to you in finding your inner beauty and with it, your inner radar.

    • Thanks, Terri! This is one of those realizations that you wish you could tell everybody younger than you so they can figure out sooner than you did…but it’s something we each just have to come to. Extremely thankful for my discovery!

  2. Amanda, I connected with the part of your story about feeling like you have to produce to gain/experience value. Aside from what you mention above about taking pen and paper and asking God what He thinks of you, what are some other actions you have taken during this journey of reclaiming your identity? I’m very intrigued by this because I constantly fight knowing who I am. I find that I so greatly desire to be accepted and loved by others that I have not allowed myself to BE ME. There will be a post about this soon, but in the meantime, what other things can I do to reclaim who I am?

    • Ooh…GREAT question, Alana. The pen and paper and asking Daddy was where it began. After that, it was more of a journey of accepting those things because honestly, I had a hard time hearing them. In fact, it took me over a week to even say them out loud! It sounded so ridiculous hearing my voice point out all these great qualities that make up who I am. I didn’t see myself like that! Like you said in your post this week, we are quick to believe the negative about ourselves but it’s tough for the positive to get past our defenses. We’re defending against the wrong things! So I spoke those things over myself. And I shared them with one or two key people who I could trust to also speak them over me. And I continue to do so.

      Words are so powerful. God spoke the entire universe into existence. It’s surprising what the spoken word can do in the heart and mind of a human being. Maybe it’s silly, but I wrote for myself a little speech like the one Russell Crowe gives in the Gladiator (here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1UmHfWCw-4). It’s in the front of my prayer journal. I refer back to it. I speak it over myself when I’m confronted with uncertainty. It’s been super helpful.

      • Wow. Yes, I knew that God created the universe by speaking it into existence, but I never really thought of it that deeply before. That is AMAZING! I’ve gotten into the habit of speaking negative things over myself and my life. I have noticed that when I speak the affirmations, although the situation may not change immediately, my perspective changes. Although I posted about it this week, I have not been the best at affirming myself. I am going to choose a few key affirmations that I can tape up in my bathroom and place a few in my journal similar to what you have done. Thanks Amanda!

  3. There’s nothing better then conversing with our loving heavenly Father, knowing who we are in Him. We so often struggle to find who we are, but who we are is found in Him. The more I seek Him, I find myself hidden so snuggly in His arms. What a place of security, peace and rest. Love you Amanda! God has awesome things in store for you, things He’s holding as a massive ‘surprise’.

  4. Pingback: Being Who I Am | musings of a shiny penny

  5. Oh, Amanda, this is powerful. Beautifully written. And a commonplace ‘emotional illness’ among many women today, I believe. Thank you for putting it into such ‘edible’ words. I can so relate to your painful journey…and exciting taste of freedom. God is so faithful in making beauty out of our brokenness!

    • “…making beauty out of our brokenness…” I love that phrase! I also love walking in that beauty, especially in the company of so many other wonderful people (like yourself!)! God is good.

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