Q and A on Identity – Part I

Today’s post is a Q and A with two of my friends I love and respect: Brenda Carpenter and Patty Hillman. Both have breathed love, wisdom, and counsel in my life, so I’m thrilled for you to glean from them as well! Since our interview was extensive, I divided it into three posts. Enjoy!

Meet my friends:

  • My best friend Brenda and I have journeyed together for over seventeen years! We’ve walked together through the dark valleys and glorious mountain tops. She’s been married to Steve Carpenter (he’s guest posted here) for over fifteen years. Combined, they have four adult children and five grandchildren. She has a strong pastoral anointing as well as a beautiful voice. (And gift for interior design–she helped decorate my condo.)


  • Patty and I met at Believers Church over a year ago and became friends. Then after a profound dream and with God’s leading, I booked three ministry sessions with her. Through her ministry, Soul Renovations, she equips believers especially to help them walk in their identity as sons and daughters of God. Her and her husband Bruce have been married for 40 years.


identity, salvation, healing, beloved, love of God, unconditional

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Q: How did receiving God’s love shape your identity?

Brenda (B): What are you trusting? You can indulge in retail therapy all day, but that won’t help. Never enough. There’s no satisfaction in a job or from a career — just not.

Steve has shared with me, “We’re seeing ourselves line up in the obedience of the Lord.” It takes time. It’s working on yourself and coming together more as a married couple. Steve and I have always communicated everything with each other– which is huge. But as we’re walking in obedience and communicating all that we’re experiencing, we’re realizing what we are believing for is not even the answer!

So when what we’re believing for comes to pass, at the end of day, is that seeking first His kingdom?

Patty (P): No, I consider that more fruit.

B: In our busy survival mode, you can be so focused on fruit.

P: Destination salvation. The lie we hear is, once this happens– whatever this is– that’ll be great and solve our problems. But when you get there, you’re not great and still have the same problems. As they say in corporate America, put your ladder against wall and climb it. But once you climb that ladder, you’re still unfulfilled. So, you put a taller ladder up, and you keep climbing ladders. It’s a rat race. 

You don’t have to be in corporate America to do this. Christians do this all the time, thinking, “When I get married. When I get this house. When I overcome this issue.” 

This “destination salvation” mindset is the enemy’s trap to distract us because it keeps you “doing” something instead of finding out you’re so loved.

Orphan spirit: my experience with an orphan spirit is not knowing I’m unconditionally loved. It’s only when you know God loves you unconditionally, can your identity be set right. For the first seven to eight years of our marriage, Bruce was always kind. He only raised his voice – not really yelling — once in those eight years. He never scared, threatened, or yelled at me, even though I was cussing, threatening, and throwing things. He’d just stand there. Wrong for him to not set boundaries with me, but he never retaliated or scared me.

During this time, I was a wounded animal. Finally, two years after I was saved, I thought, “I think he’s going to stay. I don’t think he’s going to leave.” Now that’s a seriously wrong mindset that it took me that long to believe he’d stay. He’d already seen the ugly and the nasty ugly; yet, he never threatened to leave. Why did it take me that long to believe that he loved me? People had left me all of my life. No one stayed.

Shifting my mindset changed my relationship with Bruce. I trusted him, where before I didn’t. Oddly enough, when we married, I never expected to get divorced, but I wasn’t fully invested. I was protecting myself from him “inevitably “leaving and for the heartbreak that would come. My thinking was, “I’ll only invest this much, so it won’t hurt too bad when he leaves me.” I wasn’t consciously aware I was doing that until Holy Spirit revealed it. That’s a stronghold mindset.

After I got saved (about 10 years into our marriage), I thought: “I really don’t think he’s going to leave.” There was no majority vote —not my parents, his parents, my brother assuring me that no he’s not going to leave you — because no amount of natural words can touch that spiritual abandonment issue. This came up in me through co-laboring with Jesus to tear it down–that changed our marriage. I responded differently. I no longer thought, “I’m the only one who can protect me. I’m looking out for myself.” You know that place where you manage everything out there because everything is a potential threat against my happiness and security. You invite a controlling spirit to counsel you.

Question: How many Bruce’s are out there, who’d stay?

P: I don’t think a lot. I love how I needed that to get me stable. Once I changed my mindset and responded to him differently, he  started taking from me and that enabled him to change.

When Scripture states that God can take bad and make it good [Genesis 50:20], to me this is part of what it looks like. To Bruce’s detriment, he was extremely passive. And I had a major rage issue. In 2005-06, I leapt over a center island, slid, grabbed him by the throat, then pinned him against the cabinet. It was” on” when I felt threatened. My thinking? “No one is going to hit me!” I wasn’t beaten a lot growing up, but the enemy took a few incidents and magnified them.

I thought, “I’ll never wake up and be on the ground with someone standing over me because I’ve been hit!” This only happened once with my adopted dad who was schizophrenic, and once with biological dad when we pushed him too far. He came after me with a 2 X 4, and I woke up in my bed with my biological mom there. My mom told him, “If you ever hit her again, I’ll take hammer and that car will be unrecognizable. And then I’ll take it to you.”

Back to Bruce, he was so passive and froze when someone yelled at him because his family didn’t yell. They talked loud and over each other. What I thought was a demonstration of love to stand there and let me say and do horrible things, was just him immobilized with fear. He was the deer in the headlights. 

When I’d come to myself, I felt horrible and apologized. I’d say, “You shouldn’t let me talk to you like that–but don’t ever hit me. I don’t know what you need to do, but I wouldn’t allow you to talk to me like that. If you ever talk to me like that just once, the conversation would be over until you found some self control.” My advice to him was, “Walk away. Go out the door.”

First time he walked away [when I went off on him], I immediately went after him. That’s why I’m telling you the demonic realm isn’t logical. You’re not in the right state of mind. I had told him, this is what I think you should do [walk away]. But when he did, I went insane and went after him. I nearly took the door off the hinges. And he just stood there frozen.

I said, “You never walk away from me.”

Bruce: I’ll go back to just standing over here.

Once I got revelation knowledge from Holy Spirit of why anger and rage were there, the Lord helped me unpack it. That stronghold got moved out of the way. While sitting on my couch one night, I was watching a movie like Toy Story—not praying but engaged in movie— Holy Spirit descended on me and the love of God filled every core of me. I had what I call “my Beloved Daughter experience” and I’ve never been the same. That started a transition in me. I believe it’s because room had been made in me. This is how I ended up with my Beloved tattoo.

I was saying to Father God right after this encounter, “You really don’t lie. I didn’t do anything other than receiving Jesus as a gift to get into your Kingdom.” Just like a baby being born in the natural. The baby didn’t ask to be a son or daughter, you just are because you were born.

Father God told me, “I loved you when you were out here doing all kinds of sin. You were not my kid, not my Kingdom. How much more so, when I’m unrestrained?”

Question: Did he show you the root?

P: My root was —and I think a lot of people’s are —multiple issues, all interwoven into each other. I knew I had five areas. I’m thinking, “This is not right.” So I told God, “I’m ready to do some really hard stuff. Gut me like a pig, I don’t care. I’m so ready to experience wholeness.” Much to my surprise and irritation, He worked in another area that wasn’t in my five areas. I’m thinking, “Apparently, you’re not so omnipotent because…”

He kept going over there and avoiding the five things I’d told him about. After several months I surrendered: “It’s your way or the highway.” You’re wanting to work in this area and my only choice is to follow you or go my own way— that’s it.

Out of my belief system of, “I know you’re good Father and don’t withhold any good thing from me. You know more than I know. You’re the only one who knows more about me than me. You can’t do anything other than love me and have the best for me. I should trust that you know what you’re doing and where the work needs to begin.”

Years later, I had an epiphany of why He first worked in an area I didn’t want Him to. He said, “This stuff [those five areas] was so enmeshed that I had to start over here because you couldn’t of handled it if I would’ve started in the areas you wanted me to. As tenacious as you are, you would’ve punched out of the process from the pain.”

I believe that the core of identity is knowing in every fiber of your being that there’s absolutely nothing I can say or do that’ll make him walk away or even turn his face away from me. Absolutely nothing! When I think of all I’ve done, and how he reminds me where his goodness is in those areas, and he’s always looking out for me, always. When He told me, “I want to do so much more, but your stuff blocks you from hearing and trusting me. I love you intensely and I don’t ask you to do something that will crush you. That’s better for you. A little pain here, then you heal. Then we go at it again and keep digging.”

He also told me, “When I ask you to sacrifice by doing a hard thing through forgiving someone, this is how you co-labor with me to bring about your wholeness in your soul. It’s not all about them, but both of you. I don’t have any favorites.” When He shared that with me, I realized I didn’t have a grid for someone not having a favorite, because my brother was always the golden boy while I always came in at second spot.

Part II will post next week!

How about you? Have you received freedom from an orphan spirit? Please share in Comments below? 

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About the Author


Friend of God. Writer. Resting in His grace daily.


  1. What I got from this: Wholeness comes from facing that most vulnerable and sometimes the ugliest side of your identity. This is why we need mentors, counselors and coaches to help us face those parts of ourselves. Thank god for those He sends to stand in the gap with us.

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