Your Identity is Not Determined By You!
Describe yourself in 5 words or less. Ready? Go!
What were your words? Mine could be friend, seamstress, teacher, outdoorswoman, and volunteer. I bet your list included roles you play such as wife or husband, student, nurse, waitress, mechanic, fisherman (or woman!), mama, or gardener. Maybe your list included characteristics such as funny, loyal, wise, disorganized, intentional, hard working or chronically late (I could put that one on my list!) Or maybe you listed physical traits like tall, blond, black, white, skinny, or strong.
My point is, there are endless ways that you could describe yourself. But they are just descriptions, not definitions. Those things may describe what you do, how you act, and what you look like, but they do not define WHO YOU ARE.
Who you are does not depend on anything you can control. If you or anyone else on this earth has the power to control something, that thing does not have the power to define who you are. You know why? Because who you are, your identity and worth, is far too important of a job to be left up to us.
Humanity is a mess; just look around. We make mistakes, we hurt people, we cause endless problems and often we don’t even bother to fix them! So why would you let such an important piece of you be decided by people? You can bet that won’t turn out well!
The good news is, our identities aren’t decided by ourselves! We have a Designer and that job is His!
Think about when a child draws a picture. Half the time, you have no idea what it is but if you ask them, they’ll tell you all about it! You look at it and see a bunch of scribbles but when they look at it, they see their family in perfect detail. And don’t you dare try and tell them what you think it looks like because you’re WRONG! Every time! THEY made it so THEY get to decide what it is, not you (and they’ll tell you that too, because kids are sassy!) Well the same is true of us.
We have a Designer and Creator. We were His idea and He formed us. Right in the very beginning “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27) and while talking about Jesus, Paul says “All things were created by Him and for Him” (Col 1:16). Therefore, He is the one- the ONLY ONE- who gets to determine our identity and with that, also our worth. This means that a more accurate way to describe yourself in 5 words would be “Whoever God says I am.”
So who exactly does He say that you are? Oh where do I begin?? He says that you are His workmanship, His handiwork, His masterpiece (Eph 2:10). He says that you are loved by such a deep love that you don’t have to earn it and can never be separated from it (Rom 8:38–39). He says that you were created on purpose for a purpose (Col 1:16). And those are just general things that are true for any and every human! But once you become a Christian and enter His family, the list just explodes to way more than I can list here. As a Christian, He says that you are His daughter or His son and that comes with so many more privileges (Eph 1:5) Now, He says that you are forgiven (Col 1:14). He says that you are made righteous in Christ (Rom 5:19). He says that you are complete in Christ (Col 2:10). He says that you are a citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20). And the list goes on and on!
So all you girls out there calling yourselves ugly-STOP IT- because you are insulting God’s masterpiece. All you workers out there striving to earn approval and love- STOP IT- because you already have it. All you people wondering if your life is worth it- STOP IT- because you have a purpose here on this earth. All you outcasts thinking you don’t belong- STOP IT- because you’re in His family. All you rule breakers thinking you’re unforgivable- STOP IT- because your sins have already been paid for and forgiven. All you single people desperately searching for your other half- STOP IT- because no one can make you more complete than He can. All you people complaining about where you live or seeking temporary treasure- STOP IT- because this world is not your home.
Are you seeing the trend here? Your identity and worth do not depend on you. It’s not up for you to decide. And it’s not up to anyone else either. Unfortunately, we don’t always give that job to who it belongs to and we let other things become our identity. We look to our relationships or our jobs or accomplishments to define who we are but this always leads to trouble because those things can all change. Relationships can be broken, jobs can be lost, and accomplishments can go unnoticed. Now what? Our identity is no longer what we once thought it was and that hurts!
I’ve experienced this over and over, as I’m sure you have too, particularly last year following my college graduation. I had been planning to be a teacher since I was 7 years old, then suddenly through my student teaching time, I felt God leading me in a different direction. For the past 15 years, my identity had been in my status as a student and future teacher but when that went away, I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore, which opened me up to believing whatever people said about me whether it was true or not! Without having my identity planted firmly on unchangeable truth, I started believing that I was a failure, a lazy bum, and an all-around buzzkill!
Now I’m not telling you this looking for pity or fishing for compliments; I’m telling you this so you can see the progression. I started out putting my identity in something temporary that I could control. They weren’t bad things, but they weren’t strong enough to hold my identity. After that crumbled, my identity started to be dictated by things that other people said and controlled, and those were bad! I ended up with a lot of bad habits and believing a lot of lies all because I hadn’t put my identity fully in Christ where it belongs.
A couple weeks ago, I sent this text to a friend who was struggling to put her worth and identity in Christ rather than in her work and relationship. I told her, “Working is not how you can prove yourself, you’re already proven worthy because you are the daughter of the One who is always worthy. No person on earth, no matter how much they love you, has the power to determine your worth. That is set in stone by God and nothing can ever change that. You are always His and He always loves you, no matter what work you do or don’t do here on earth. As much as you love (insert name of someone you love) and he loves you, remember that he’s not Jesus, he’s still a broken and sinful human, bound to be wrong sometimes and make mistakes that hurt you, but Jesus never will. You never have to do anything to earn his love. You never have to prove yourself to Him. Allow yourself to accept that love and worthiness and live in it. When you live as though you are loved and worthy (which you are!) you gain a certain level of confidence that you can’t get anywhere else and it allows you to accept love from others much more easily while at the same time gives you the confidence to not allow others to dictate who you are anymore. It takes that power away from them because it’s a power they never should have had in the first place, that should only belong to God!”
God is our designer and He designed us to look to Him for our identity. That means we need to take our belt of truth and put it on. And while you’re at it, put on the rest of the armor of God too because He designed us to put it on in full everyday and we function best that way. Nothing trumps God’s truth and no one but Him has the power to tell you who you are (unless they’re quoting scripture!) We don’t get to design our own identity, our designer gets to do that.
So live by His design and let Him define your identity.
Lately, God has been teaching me a lot of different things that I wanted to share with you, things that I thought could help and encourage you, and I realized they all fit around the theme of how we are designed. God created us to live and function in a very specific way, but more often than not, I haven’t been living that way and chances are, you haven’t been either. So from now until I don’t know when, I’m going to be digging into this, I’m going to study our Designer and they way He designed us. I don’t quite know what this will look like yet but I invite you to learn along with me! Each area of design that I learn about, I will be posting about so that you can learn as well. Let’s learn to live the way we were designed!