Reflections on “Anonymous” by Alicia Britt Chole

This book invites reflection and pauses as you read it. It goes against everything in my normal routine to not just read a book straight through! But I’m going to try and spend more time reflecting on things. I’ve already read a bunch without journaling and maybe at some point I’ll go back and journal on the earlier sections, but for now, I’m starting right where I am…

Part Eight: more fruit from hidden years

Chapter 35: an unshakable identity (august 2015)

“Praise slid off Jesus like water off a window.  To have allowed it to collect would hav warped the image of God others could see through his life.” 

For an approval seeker like myself, these words are convicting indeed. I crave the praise and approval of others. Neither praise nor criticism slides easily off of me as I take too much to heart what other people say about me. I have been learning more and more that the remedy for this is exactly what Ms. Chole suggests was at the heart of Jesus’ ability to ignore the accolades (and eventually the jeers) of the crowds:

“During his hidden years, Jesus clearly came to terms with what made hi significant. Actually, that what was a Who: the God whose love does not eff and flow on the ever vacillating waves of human perceptions.  

What grows in anonymous seasons? An unshakable identity.”

This is what I long for – the unshakable knowledge that I’m valuable because God thinks I’m valuable. He has a plan for me that is good. If I will just wait only for His approval, I can remain unmoved by the opinions and desires of the people around me.

Chapter 36: trust in God’s timing (august 2015)

Reading this chapter this week right after the one about identity just kind of made me laugh. I picked up this book a while ago and put it down as my life got too busy with other things.  As I’m reading it now, my two biggest struggles are with my identity and coming to terms with God’s timing. Crazy.

I almost laughed aloud when I read this line this morning: “Hidden years are frequenty marked by a loss of some control in our lives.”  Understatement of the century…

I don’t have much to add except that I really need these truths to sink in! Just for my memory, here are the  phrases that mostrly struck a chord with me today.

“Over hidden years, Jesus decided that Father always knows best, that God’s ways are perfect, and that he is never, ever late.

When God’s timing is not our timing and it is in our power to do something about it (as with Jesus’ example on the temple), whose timing will we choose? Ultimately, our answer to that question depends on whom we really trust.”

Chapter 37: a disciplined imagination

This chapter deals with the cultivation of a disciplined mind.  Using Jesus’ admonitions to us about the equal importance of our thoughts and our actions, she suggests that Jesus Himself had a strict discipline of His own thought life. I had never really thought of this before, but it rings true.

As an avid daydreamer, at first reading of this chapter, I felt disturbed by her admonitions of vain imaginings. But I do appreciate how she delved deeper into the idea of disciplining our thoughts and how to categorize vain imaginings from playful pretending.

This sentence provided much room for thought: “Though such thoughts may provide temporary color to what we perceive to be an otherwise dull existence, they are still an investment in untruth.” Spending my time idly wishing that my life were different somehow will only lead me to discouragement and discontent.

I feel encouraged, though, to keep daydreaming and imagining the future that God does have in mind for me – what could happen if I keep following him in simple steps of obedience, how I might use his gifts to further His kingdom, how the world could be changed through the ripples of our family’s actions, etc.

I’m reminded of the prayer Jesus prayed in John 17, where he prays to the Father specifically about future believers. I believe he could have been engaged in active imaginings about the future of our world and how it would look to have believers all over the world united in our love for Him. I’m glad He had the discipline of mind to be thinking these thoughts instead of dwelling on the pain and terror he would imminently face.

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