In a world full of voices proclaiming that you can be whoever you want to be, we can easily sway in the wind. There are too many choices. Too many options. How am I supposed to know who I’m meant to be?
While much of who a person is varies from case to case on the surface, you’ll find those ripples come from core desires we all share (i.e. we all want to be loved), so let’s break our identity into three fundamental sections.
Side note: There is a lot that could be said about identity, so I would love to hear your specific questions/struggles so I can better focus my blog posts. Let me know in the comments below or here.
#1 — Hone in on God
You cannot understand who you are until you grasp Who you were made after. Christ is the cornerstone, so if you are to have any hope of knowing yourself, you must know who you are because of Him.
True freedom is found when we are fully able to image our Creator. Remove this aspect of our identity and we are not capable to be ourselves to our fullest potential.
“…who I am in relation to God is my authentic self. I find myself not in the depths of my psychology but in the depths of His heart. And when He calls you or me ‘child,’ ‘beloved,’ ‘friend,’ that’s who we are, and any other identity—male, female, father, mother, child, friend—flows out of that.”-Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity
This is the most counter-cultural of my three points because the world will tell you we’re all good people. We have good intentions, we’re just dented and bruised by evil outside of us. This is not true.
To truly know yourself, you must be in Christ. To be in Christ, you must be “born again.” To be born again, you must reckon with the pitch-black depravity that is the human heart.
Christians are not strong people who have it all together, they are weak people who admit they need a Savior. We are sinners, yes, but we are sinners who are saved by grace.
I’m a failure. He’s my Forgiver. I’m a sinner. He’s my Savior. I am broken. He’s my Healer. I’m His child. He’s my God.
The more you realize how wicked you are, the more you will see the glory of the gospel because it was when we were at our darkest that Christ died for us. That will revolutionize your identity.
#2 — Recognize your uniqueness
Upon looking to Christ, you will comprehend your identity as a vessel (1 Cor 3:16). You are a broken pot to hold God’s light, a cracked mirror to reflect His glory, a bent arrow to point back to Him.
That is your fundamental identity. What that looks like, how you carry it out, will depend on how you are different from everyone else (see more here).
You cannot fully grasp who you are away from people. If want to learn more about yourself, pay attention to others and you’ll see things about yourself you didn’t realize before.
For example, I was invited on a beach trip during my junior year in college. On the way down we listened to one playlist, on the way back I was given DJ privileges.
While both playlists were fun and enjoyed by all in the car, I was struck by a difference:
The first had a breakup theme, each of its songs expressing anger, pain, or regret, while mine had a clear streak of friendship.
I realized in a new light that I am rooted in where I come from, places just as well as the people I knew there.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without those God placed in my path to direct and pour into me, a realization that excites me to conquer the future continually learning and growing.
#3 — Plug into your community
Continuing off our identity as vessels, Imagine Dragons effectively likened us to apostrophes, symbols to remind others that there’s more to see. Or, as Casting Crowns put it, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody all about Somebody who saved my soul.”
This truth flows right into our purpose so, to focus on the identity piece of it, the third aspect of who we are sits squarely on how we are relational beings.
We need people. Because God is a social God (Gen 1:26a) and, being made in His image, we were not created to be alone (Gen 2:18).
We are the most in tune with the truest version of ourselves when we are pouring into another.
“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”-Mark Twain
Yes, serving at church or going to a weeknight small group may be exhausting or inconvenient, but I always leave refreshed because being with people reminds me of why I’m here.