That is a question that quite honestly haunted me for a very long time. To be fair, I could give you the cliché Christian answers of who I am in Christ, quote some trite Bible verses at you—but none of that was penetrating my heart or emotions, or really changing the way I lived on a daily basis. While these verses were true and full of meaning, I still found myself facing a minor identity crisis or questioning my worth based on silly things. It all turned in to a sick game of comparison, like a never ending emotional game of chutes and ladders; if I accomplished what I wanted and got the attention I felt I deserved, I was climbing the ladder. If not – I fell down a chute and landed in a pit. How I felt internally depended on how people perceived me externally.
I’ll save you the sordid details, but I imagine some of you may be able to relate to parts of my story and my struggle with codependency. This sin of idolizing the opinion of others slowly crept in to my life unchecked. Eventually, I began to think back and try to figure out why I wasn’t secure in my identity in Christ. I mean, I knew all the verses. I had even memorized some. I believed in Christ and thought I was trusting in Him to be my identity, but it didn’t feel like my identity had any roots. It was affected by my circumstances pretty easily- so what was I missing?
What I surround myself with matters.
There is a physical component to spiritual warfare, and one of the first things the enemy wants to attack is our identity – the very essence of who we are. He does this in a number of ways, and for me many of them start with what I am surrounding myself with. What I view, what I listen to, what activities I do – all of those affect my mood and how I see myself. Many times I am subconsciously taking in the lies of the culture surrounding me and I slowly begin to believe them. If I am not taking care of my body physically, oftentimes my mind and emotions follow suit. When I am taking care of my body and intentionally stewarding it for the glory of God, I notice that this affects my spiritual life. It all seems to flow together more easily.
However, when I spend my time listening to love songs, I begin to find that I am not content in my relationship status. As I watch TV, I am less content with my body image, my house, my lifestyle, and how “cool” my social scene is. As I listen to advertisements, I think that I do need more in my life to really be satisfied.
But all of those are lies!! When the Lord saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone, he made a helper fit for him. God didn’t just bring Adam a dog and convince him that it would meet his needs – He made an entirely new creation for him. God knew how he made Adam, and he knew what his needs were.
Often times I focus so much on the circumstances and things surrounding me that I fail to look to God. I must surround myself with His Truth before I can ever hope to believe it.
What I trust in will make me hopeful or hopeless.
If I am trusting in things of this world, I am trusting in a mere shadow. Creation was never meant to give me purpose or identity; it cannot bear the weight of my idolatry. If I am trusting in a job promotion to make me feel worthy, I am going to be sorely disappointed and spend my life jumping from idol to idol to try to find value and meaning.
When my hope is in Christ and in being everything He has created me to be, life will look so different. Now my roles, seasons, and callings are a way for me to glorify God using the passions, talents, and abilities that He has uniquely gifted me with in order to express my identity. And that brings me hope. This hope is eternal and resting in something bigger than myself and my mundane daily activities.
The things of this world, the chasing of the “American Dream” leads me to feel spent, hopeless, and ultimately empty because they were never meant to satisfy. I have a longing for something that will only be satisfied in eternity – when my identity is flowing from that, it gives me hope and security. This hope is secure because God is secure – Scripture calls this hope an “anchor for our soul” – it keeps us rooted, not tossed to and fro with the waves. We stay grounded because this hope in Christ, that what he says is true, because he is unchanging.
Our identity is in Christ and brings unity amidst diversity.
My identity is only rooted in what God says is true of me—nothing else. Now, don’t hear me say that nothing in this life affects us, it does! But, the temporary seasons, roles, callings, and times of this life serve to give me a platform to express my identity. They don’t define me. I am the same woman single or married, parent or not, employed or unemployed, rich or poor. Paul belabors this point in Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Notice here that he is arguing for our unity in our identity. Our identity in Christ leaves no room for prejudice, judgment or division. We are Christ’s workmanship, created in him for good works.
Not for our own glory.
Not to be the best at everything.
Our identity rests in the fact that we are created in God’s image, to be his image bearers to this world and to walk in the manner worthy of the calling that we have received. Lord, I pray that I will choose to believe that each day.