Put simply, identity is defined as who someone is.
Trying to define this word as it relates to me personally has consumed a giant percentage of my thought life over the years. Who am I? What is my identity? Sure, I am a wife, mom, musician, writer…but who am I really? And who determines the value of my identity?
I grew up in the church and so I know conceptually that my identity should be firmly rooted in Christ. For the longest time I truly believed I embraced this truth in my everyday life. Not this year. This year it felt as if God allowed every area that could possibly be in competition for my sense of identity to take a hard, swift blow to its core.
In obedience to God’s leading, we left the church we had actively served in, raised our babies in, found our people in. My identity is not my church family.
Despite the fact that we knew God was leading us in this new direction, we were met with anger and disappointment at our decision. (A tough blow for a pleaser already facing loss) My identity is not in people’s opinion of me or in being understood.
One of my safest, dearest friendships encountered a crisis that caught both of us off-guard, shook the entire foundation, and nearly caused the whole, beautiful structure to come crashing down. My identity is not in my friendships.
We started attending a new church in which we were largely unknown. Being unknown is hard when you want to serve and lead more than anything. My identity is not in how people view my potential for contribution.
I have health issues that are largely exacerbated by stress and lack of sleep, two traits that plagued this year of change. As a result, I faced one of the most challenging health years to date. My identity is not in my good health.
I released a new album and then underwent major surgery two days later, effectively ceasing all marketing efforts. My identity is not in how many people know about or appreciate my art.
In an effort to follow God’s lead and also protect my health, I quit my part-time teaching job and corresponding steady paycheck. My identity is not in my job or financial contribution.
So when life took aim and swung at one last competing category (one that I do not need to describe in this post) I crumbled. No, “crumbled” is too tidy of an adjective. I fell apart. I am talking the epic, unflattering, can’t stop crying, want to move to a deserted island, version of falling apart. Leveled.
When I managed to eventually quiet myself a bit, it was as if God asked me, “So…Who do you think that I say you are?”
Who does God say I am? According to His words:
I am a daughter of the King.
“…He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 1:5 ESV)
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1 ESV)
I am loved.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)
I am equipped.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
I am empowered.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8 ESV)
“…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:19-21)
I am an heir.
“…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…(Ephesians 1:18)
I am known.
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:1-5 ESV)
I am a light in darkness.
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)
I am created with a purpose.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)
I am forgiven.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)
I am sent.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
And believe it or not, this is not an exhaustive list.
When we choose to allow Christ to be the sole source of our identity, we take the first step on the path to living a secure, empowered, victorious life in Him. Any other choice leaves us at risk for feeling insecure, powerless, and defeated. Who is your source of identity and security? Whose voice speaks loudest about this in your ears? Is it possible that, as in my case, something or someone else is trying to compete for that role in your life?
As painful as it was, I am so thankful that God loved me enough to illuminate all of the areas that were vying for His rightful position. I’m so thankful He’s helping me take back ground and slowly begin to re-orient my life around Him and Him alone. He is the only sure foundation for my sense of worth and value. I pray this for you as well.
Oh Lord, please forgive me for letting other things compete for my allegiance. Thank you for loving me enough to call me on it. Please be the first and only place I run to for my security, identity, and purpose.