Just recently I was reminded of something my parents would say to me as a teenager. I would get ready to go out with friends, or maybe a boyfriend, and before I would walk out the door, it was not unusual for mom or dad to say the words, “Remember who you are.” It was their way of saying, “the choices you make not only affect you, they affect others as well.” Your family is part of your identity and what you do reflects not only on yourself, but also on the family name. A name in which you should take pride in. A name to protect.
Unfortunately, many people today are facing an identity crisis. There are people in the world who feel they don’t fit in, who are searching for a place to belong, who don’t know who they are. Even Christians seem to have lost their sense of identity. Too many young people are seeking identity from wearing the latest fashions, keeping up with popular trends, or giving into the expectations of their peers, while other Christians are gaining identity from their careers, struggles, or their roles in life.
In my Psychology class in college I recall discussing the I.R. theory, (Identity Role Theory). Theorist Erik Erikson coined the term, “identity crisis” and felt it was one of the most important conflicts people face. It is referred to as the time of intense analysis of who you are. An identity crisis occurs when one confuses her identity with her roles in life.
All of us have roles in life - husband/wife, father/mother, salesperson/teacher, student/retired, etc. These roles are temporary. A married couple may experience divorce or their spouse may pass away. Anyone can change careers whether by resigning, getting fired or laid off. Obviously, we age and so do our children. These roles in most cases are based on our performance. When we fall short, we tend to feel like a failure which can make a dramatic impact on how we view our identity, or our worth. Our circumstances can also affect the way we view ourselves. Rich or poor, healthy or ill, strong or broken relationships - all of these examples can change at the drop of a hat.
How we identify ourselves to others says a great deal about how we perceive ourselves. Not only do we try to communicate what we feel is important, but we want to reveal the area in which we find worth as a person. I may introduce myself as Dayna Schrock, mother of 3. Or, maybe I would say, Dayna Schrock, Secretary. Being a mother and a secretary happen to be important roles I carry, but they are not my identity. Another may identify themselves as alcoholic, cancer survivor, or maybe even CEO. Again, our circumstances and our positions do not define true identity.
On the other hand, an identity is something permanent and based on grace alone. Grace given by Christ. No one can take away your true identity.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:4-8, 11-14)
Are you defining your worth by the position you hold, the money you make, or your circumstances in life? Are you looking at yourself through the eyes of the world, or through the eyes of your heavenly Father? Are you living out a life of the ordinary and routine because you have accepted it as your lot? Have you made up your mind that you are a failure, unable to measure up because of what you have been told by others?
Each one of us is a unique and special individual placed on this earth for a purpose - God’s purpose! We need to be reminded that God’s standard of measurement is much different than the world’s, but we often give way to the enemy in believing that we are worth much less. In Christ, we are significant! He paid the penalty of our sin with His death on the cross. He is in us and we are in Him. He sees that our potential is much greater than we or others give us credit. Now when God looks at us, he doesn’t see sin, He sees us as a new redeemed creation. God doesn’t see us as failures in the roles we carry. He identifies us as His children, holy and blameless. We have been adopted into the family of God, taking on the family name. A name in which we should take pride in and protect. Our choices not only affect us, they affect others around us.
If we were to introduce ourselves using our true identity, we would tack onto our name, “child of God” - permanent, and based on grace. Oh how the perspective of ourselves changes when we realize that our very Creator loves us with an unfailing love despite our roles and positions, despite our circumstances in life, despite our successes and our failures - and He calls us His very own. His love for us is permanent and never based on our performance!
Remember who you are!