I Am That I Am
If you were to ask me a year ago, “Who are you?” my answer would have consisted of the following: I am a wife, a mom, a runner, a teacher, a clean eater, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a coach. If you would have asked me if I was embodying any of these roles well, I would probably only have been able to say yes to the runner representation… I was neglecting my family and friends, distracted in my job, and not really eating at all. I was typical eating disorder sufferer; I was giving my all to my disorder and symptom use and failing to thrive in any other aspect in my life. During a session with Genie, she challenged me with the question, “Who am I?” and suggested that this is the most intimate question that God has ever answered in Exodus 3:14 “I Am That [who] I Am”. This phrase that has given me the strength to accept myself for who I really am: I am HIS.
Why is this phrase so important in the Bible?
When God states “I Am That I AM”, He is declaring that He is God: the one true King. He is telling Moses to trust His word because His word is the truth and the light, and this expression should not be taken lightly. When we trust that He is the I Am, we can have faith and confidence that He is with us in all situations and struggles in this life. That understanding is vital to not only our relationship with God, but also in our relationship with ourselves as children of The Almighty King.
When I was in the depths of my eating disorder, the only worth I found my identity in was connected directly to my sickness. Phrases like, “I am a runner”, “I am a clean eater”, and “I am skinny” were labels I gave myself, and those labels painted me into a corner of what I had to embody and what I had to be… If I am a runner, I must run daily or who am I? If I am a clean eater, I must eat clean or who am I? If I am skinny, I must stay skinny or who am I? There is a pattern here… Whatever I attached with the phrase “I am” I felt as though I had to embody that at all times and do it well or I was a failure at what I stood for. Keeping up with these “branding factors” that created Brooke were exhausting. Why? Because they were not connected with the Spirit, they were connected with the world, and this world is draining and impossible to keep up with. However, God loves us as is without fail; this is why I needed to change my perception of who I was so I could stop limiting myself and begin to bask in the joy of what God perceives me to be. I am perfectly made in His image because I am HIS, not the world’s.
How did this verse change my worldly thinking?
God puts it bluntly to Moses, and in turn, He puts it plainly to us… “I Am That I Am”. In one of our sessions together when I was drowning in my disorder, Dr. Genie Burnett said to me, ““I Am” is one of the most powerful statements in the human language because it is one of the most powerful statements in the Bible.” It hit me like a ton of bricks because at that moment, I began to think of all the negative and restrictive words I attached with I am… Also, in my disorder, I believed that if I was claiming one of those labels, I had to embody it 110% of the time or I was a fraud. This was stressful, and the pressure to perform was slowly killing me.
[Dr. Genie Burnett’s interjection here: Over the last 17 years, I have noticed themes emerge across clients’ struggle with their issues. A major factor in the development and maintenance of any struggle – whether eating disorder, anxiety, depression, or any other issue – is the belief about who “I am”, or the person’s inner identity. I believe that God’s statement reflects the truth that God IS. He exists and is everything. How we complete that sentence similarly impacts how we live our lives and how we impact others.]
When I dug into God’s word, I learned that He only calls us to be one thing… HIS. If I live, breathe, and love with the statement “I am His”, I will be able to be who I am in that moment, in that struggle, in that triumph, whatever it is, in that time and not feel pressured to fit into the worldly “I Am” statements that kept me sick for so long. If I live by His standards of me, I can love myself for who I am just because I am the daughter of the King, not because I am a runner, a clean eater, or skinny. When I put my worth in my worldly attributes such as my body and physical ability, I was destined to fail. I cannot stop myself from aging, and with age comes certain changes… And why would I want to hold myself to impossible standards? Ain’t nobody got time for that! When I started putting my worth in His love for me, I was able to love myself. No strings attached.
One of the quotes that helps me accept myself on a daily basis is “Be who you are today.” It is quite simple. Now, instead of waking up and judging myself in the mirror, I simply look at me, look at my body, and say “This is it- I am who I am, and God is with me and God is for me.” This phrase speaks love, acceptance, and truth into my soul instead of the hate, the disgust, and the pressure I use to feed it. I now walk out of my room with confidence and peace, and I never want to go back to the old worldly pressures; “I Am That I Am” is good enough for God, and it’s good enough for me!