Issue of Identity – Part two of Your True Selfie

Day Four

Three of my kids head back to school next week and the other two start back at college in a couple of weeks.  As I mourn the end of summer, I’m gearing up for one of my least favorite parenting duties…the seemingly endless stacks of parent forms, class fees and tuition payments.

Don’t even get me started on the cost of college textbooks. I’m incredulous that one used biology textbook that my child will use for just a few months will cost several hundreds of dollars. Really?! These are students surviving on Cup of Noodles! (And with these payments, the parents may be too :).

You discover the value of something when you know the price that was paid for it. While college textbooks may be overpriced, I still pay for them because I see the value of the end product: a college education for my kids.

God paid a high price for you and me. He gave his only Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to pay the price for our sins. The value of paying this high price is God providing a way for us to have a relationship with him.

You have incredible worth to God because of the great lengths He was willing to go and the high price He was willing to pay.

Sadly, we often don’t look to Jesus as our primary source of identity. We go searching…grasping for it in other places. Looking for that thing, that career, that relationship, that job to give us the worth our hearts are desperately longing for.

For years, I derived my worth from what I did. I lived as if my performance was what made me valuable. I would do, do, do…add, add, add wearing myself out to prove my worth and significance. When I did well, I felt good, but when I failed, I was devastated. It was like running on a treadmill – I was working hard and completely wearing myself out, but getting nowhere.

We’ve looked at how the One who created us is the One who has the right to name us. Similarly, the One who created us is the same One who should define our worth. If we’re not allowing the truth of God’s word to define us, something else will.

Three of the areas I find myself repeatedly but insufficiently looking to for affirmation and worth are:

  1. My past.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,… Philippians 3:13

Recounting past failures and disappointments with a liturgy of “if only’s” will wear you out. It is impossible to move forward if we are continually looking back. Instead, we should strain forward to what’s ahead. Your worth is not measured by your past failures, experiences, mistakes or even your past successes and achievements.

While the past makes us who we are today and teaches us valuable lessons, Paul says we are not to dwell on it. Like Paul, we need to “forget” our past and put it where it actually is – behind us if we’re to move forward into all God has for us.

  1. Other people.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.2 Corinthians 10:12

When we constantly compare ourselves with others, we’ll never be satisfied. If we compare ourselves with people who appear to be more “put together” and successful than us, we’ll feel like we’re constantly failing and falling short. And if we compare ourselves to people who seem to be worse off than us, we’ll be tempted to give in to pride and criticalness. It’s a NO-win situation!

No matter how hard we study, how diligently we work for a promotion, how many hours we spend trying to be the best wife and mom, how many diets we try, or how long we strive to be accepted, somebody will come along sooner or later that will outdo, outperform and “outlook” you.

Resist the pull to conform to be like everyone else. Your worth is not measured by your appearance, performance or the approval that other people give you.

  1. Believing lies.

… When he [the devil] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

You have an enemy that loves to whisper lies to you. And how easily we can be persuaded to believe them! It’s his native language to spew forth lies and lure us into his web of deception and confusion.

In Revelation 12:10, we see another name for the devil,

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10

The Hebrew name for satan actually means accuser! One of his primary goals is to beat you down with accusations of fear, shame, insecurity, inadequacy and failure. Satan gains power over us as we begin to listen and believe the lies that are constantly spoken to us.

At times, I have found myself investing more time into reasoning with and embracing the lies in my mind instead of replacing them with the truth of God’s word.

Such. A. Waste. Of. Time.

Slowly, I’m learning.

The apostle Paul, in Philippians, instructs us to live with a different focus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praisewor

God asks us to make a concerted effort to shift our thoughts away from that which will distract and discourage us, to that which is true, pure, right and noble.

It can be so hard, can’t it? Our mind naturally drifts towards our past, other people and lies. Suddenly we find ourselves stuck and can’t even begin to find our way out.

Like a car spinning its wheels in the mud, we expend a lot of energy yet are unable to get any traction to move forward. Moving forward requires us to embrace and focus on things that are true and then discard our old ways of thinking.

The Bible provides us with the foundation of truth on which we can firmly ground our lives. God’s Word gives us the strength and traction to move forward when we feel stuck.

My friend, you are a child of God. Your identity and worth are determined by God not by the people and circumstances surrounding you. Don’t settle for anything less.

By looking to our past we can easily become defeated, by comparing ourselves to others we can be discouraged, and by listening to the devil’s accusations we can become confused, defeated and deceived. Only by looking to Jesus, can we truly become all that God created us to be.

And as a 19th-century philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”*

Think about it…

Where are some places you go to find and measure your worth?

Which of the three pitfalls do you find yourself falling into most often? Why?

How can you begin to embed your identity in what God says about you and how He created you to live?

How can spending time in God Word increase your understanding of your identity as a child of God? How can this influence your relationships and the effect you have on those around you?

*Soren Kierkegaard, as quoted by John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997, 2002) p. 11

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Issue of Identity – Part Two of Your True Selfie

Day Three

My eyesight isn’t what it used to be. I wear glasses for distance, but then I can’t see when I’m trying to read. I’ve been avoiding the whole bifocal thing. I’m just not ready to admit that I’ve reached that season of life.

My current solution is to wear my reading glasses over my regular glasses. When I’m at the beach, I put my sunglasses over them both. Keepin’ it classy.

My kids aren’t embarrassed to be seen with me at all.

It’s so important for us to get a clear view of God. How we view God will direct our life, define our identity, determine our values and many of the decisions we will make.

How we see God is intricately related to how we view ourselves.

If we believe God is loving, we will dwell with a security that reflects someone who is loved.

If we believe God is forgiving, we will live confidently, not cowering in shame or condemnation.

If we believe God created people with incredible worth and value, we will treat others as well as ourselves in such a way that supports the value and worth God says his children have.

This is why it is so crucial for us to grasp our identity in Christ – not at a “head” level, but at a believe-it-with-everything-you-got “heart” level.

True identity cannot be derived from our career, relationships or material things.

I used to think I could just change the landscape around me and expect my “vision” to improve – change my job, get new friends, move to a different city – surely that would fulfill me and give me a greater sense of worth. But it never did. Eventually, the same longing in my heart would bubble up to the surface.

Only God is the true source of your identity. Your identity in Christ is how God sees you and how He created you to live.

Jesus is the sure, unshakeable foundation upon whom you can build your life and find lasting worth, significance and fulfillment.

And because God created you, He is the only One who has the right to name you, give you purpose and worth.

Deriving your identity from anywhere or anyone else is identity theft – using another identity that is not your own. And living this way will negatively affect your whole life. It will affect your relationship with God, how you see yourself, how you interact with others. It will steal your confidence and destroy your self-esteem.

The worst part is that living this way will limit you to a life that is less than what God created you to live.

It’s impossible to move forward into all God has for you if you see yourself unworthy and undeserving of God’s love and goodness.

You weren’t created in the image of your job, or your career, your family or your money. You were created in the image of God.

A Little Bit of Aloha

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

Seeing yourself as God sees you will enable you to handle change, endure setbacks, deal with failure and allow you to navigate the ups and downs of life with strength and resiliency. It’s like an anchor that will tether your life – stabilizing it and strengthening it regardless of the pull of the current surrounding you.

So, get out the Windex and clean those smudges off! As for me, I may have to get a new pair of glasses. 🙂

 

Questions

  1. Read and reflect on Psalm 139. What does this Psalm say about God? What does this Psalm say about you?

 

  1. How have you seen your view of God influence your identity?

 

  1. What are some inconsistencies in what God says about you and how you see yourself?

Issue of Identity – Part Two of Your True Selfie

Day Two

Recently, Brandon, our college-aged son asked me, “Mom, why did you give me a name that means, ‘a hill covered with broom’?”

Basically, we named our child after a prolific weed. Oops, parent fail.

Funny, but I don’t recall my Christian baby name book informing me about this one! I’m certain the definition in the book was rich with meaning and more profound.

Names are a funny thing, aren’t they? They’re given to us at birth and we have no say in the deal. But in many ways, our name shapes us, defines us and gives us worth.

Growing up, I always wanted to be named, Katie. Anytime we played school or house with the neighborhood kids, I wanted to be called Katie. I thought it was the most awesome name in the world.

But my parents named me Kristan – with an “a”. Nobody could ever spell my name properly. Even worse, I could never find my name on those cool personalized license plates in the souvenir stores. *Sigh*

However, there are other “names” we pick up throughout our life. Some names are healthy and good and some aren’t so good. Some of these names increase our self-worth, shaping us and molding us into becoming better people and some of these names scar us and hurt us deeply. Consider some of them with me…

  • Names we give ourselves
  • Names other people give us
  • Names that come as a result of past choices we made
  • Names we’ve come to believe are true about us
  • Names we’ve internalized and buried so deep sometimes we’re even unaware of the effect they have on us.

In the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus interact with a woman who had been given a name by the people in her community.

Please take a moment to read the entire interaction from Luke 7:36-50.

When the Pharisee who was hosting the dinner party saw how Jesus interacted with this woman, he said to himself,

“If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39

While this Pharisee and perhaps the entire community had named this woman “a sinner”, Jesus saw her differently. He saw the woman God created her to be. He saw potential, purpose, and He provided an opportunity for her to experience a fresh start.

It’s so important for us to allow the right Person to name us. If we allow other people or even our past to name us, it will adversely affect everything – our relationships, our job, our self-worth, sometimes even our health.

These false names will steal our confidence, destroy our self-worth, hinder our ability to make decisions and keep us from moving forward in fulfilling the life God created us to live.

As a young mom, the name that continually haunted me was, “I’m not good enough”.

  • Not a good enough as a mom,
  • Not a good enough as a wife
  • Not a good enough as a friend
  • Not good enough at my job
  • Not a good enough as a pastor’s wife

And the more I allowed not good enough to define me, the more I tried to be good enough– to prove to myself that the name I believed was wrong.

As a result, I wore myself out to try to be enough. The harder I worked, I still felt like I was constantly falling short – not really from the expectations of others, but from expectations I put on myself.

Because of a name I had given myself.

Not good enough affected my confidence and led me to be insecure. It caused me to avoid situations when I felt it was too risky – too vulnerable and I may fail.

I worked like crazy trying to be the person that I thought everyone wanted me to be and I was horrible at it.

How about you?

What name do you have that you’ve yet to break free from?

Perhaps it’s a name someone called you or perhaps you gave it to yourself? Maybe it’s a label someone used to define you? Maybe you’re laboring under the guilt or shame of your past and you can’t seem to break free from it?

Let me encourage you today –

The way God sees you is bigger than your past.

His opinion of you is more valuable than the opinion of others.

My hope is that you will come to see – through God’s Word – a God-centered view of YOU!

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husb

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13

Questions

  1. What name have you given yourself that you need to get rid of?
  2. How has this false “name” has impacted you and shaped your identity?
  3. What step can you take this week to embrace your identity as a child of God?