"When I was in high school, it was the athletic kids who were somebody. I was just an average athlete so I came to the conclusion that I was also just average as a person. But then I realized I was making far better grades than anyone else and that being smart made me somebody. So I became the smart guy. I'm the smart guy."
When the person speaking these words finished their account and moved on to their main point, my mind could not move along with them. I know this person fairly well and could see how their identity was built on the foundation of intelligence. I rolled their words over in my head again and again, matching them up to accomplishments in this persons life, thinking, "Everything you've accomplished in life, your degrees, your career, your hobbies, they have all been based off the identity you assumed in high school." This realization weighed heavy on my heart then led me to ask myself a hard question:
What identity have you built your foundation on, Annie?
How do I even answer that? I have clung to many identities. The "good girl", the "fun friend", the "comedian", the "stylish one", the "artist", and there are so many others. Plenty of the identities I cling to aren't flattering ones. Sometimes, they are based off shame and regret I am carrying around due to past mistakes. Just ugly things about myself that I wish weren't true. Maybe you think you're identity is "the screw-up", or that your identity has been marred by someone else in your family with a bad reputation. Maybe you are carrying around the weight of the identity that demands you are responsible for the happiness of your loved ones. Perhaps your identity rests in your selfies and your likes on Instagram posts. Or maybe you are that athlete my friend mentioned. The one everyone is cheering for on game nights, but who wants their life to count for more than what happens on the field.
Good news: There IS more. You and I were created for more. The enemy will try his hardest to get us to define ourselves by the world's standards. He will use our strengths and our weaknesses to keep us chained up in lifestyles that leave us empty and joyless (John 10:10). Thankfully, God doesn't define us the way we define ourselves or the way the enemy does. He free's us from the exhausting work of proving ourselves, by claiming us as His. We don't have to wonder how He sees us, or make up the names that He calls us by, because He gave us His Word. My work to earn an earthly identity is simply exhausting and in the end, whatever identity I cling to isn't going to make me happy unless it is the identity Christ gives me. I want to shed the false identities that keep me from being the woman God has called me to be. I am eager to work on defining myself as Christ does.
I stumbled across this resource three years ago while walking through one of my major battles with anxiety. (Oh yeh, that's another false identity that sneaks up on me and binds me up. Anxious Girl. It's an identity I am all too comfortable with.) It's my prayer that we all come to identify most with who we are in Christ, instead of the worldly identities that the enemy would so desperately love for us to cling to. Below you will find some of the scripture's that tell us who we are in Christ, which is all that matters, as well as some beautiful quotes by other followers who sought an identity in Christ.
As we abandon ourselves to God, moment by moment, our significance and identity will be in His hands; they become His responsibility, not mine. -James Houston
Identity does not depend on the role we play or the power it gives us over others. It depends only on the simple fact that we are children of God, valued in and for ourselves. -Parker Palmer
I am never more truly myself than when I have given myself up to God. My actions are never more authentic than when they are the Spirit's actions through me. - James Houston
My true identity is bestowed, never achieved. So my challenge, for this day and every day after that, is to stop the ongoing pattern of trying, in desperation, to create a self that has in fact already been fearfully and wonderfully made; and to simply receive my self (true self), in peace and in freedom, from the God who made me uniquely and loves me deeply. -Jim Branch
Our identity can find it's basis only in God's Word to us that we are beloved, not on the world's fickle promises. In Christ we live as God's beloved before we were born and after we have died; all the circumstances in between will not negate that. -Henri JM Nouwen
Dear Jesus, Who am I really? What do you see in me that you would move heaven and earth to capture my heart? My life feels like a collection of other people's expectations and disappointments. I do not even know anymore who I truly am. Reveal to me my true identity, my true place in Your story. Give me grace to hear your voice; shut out all other voices, and let me hear from you alone. I ask this in your name. Amen. -John Eldredge
I am alive with Christ. Ephesians 2:5
I am holy and without blame before Him in love. Ephesians 1:4. 1 Peter 1:16
I am God's child for I am born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, which lives and abides forever. 1 Peter 1:23
I am a new creature in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am a joint-heir with Christ. Romans 8:17
I am God's workmanship, created in Christ unto good works. Ephesians 2:10
I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21
I am the temple of the Holy Spirit, I am not my own. 1 Corinthians 6:19
I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the blood. Ephesians 1:7
I am greatly loved by God. Ephesians 2:4, Romans 1:7, Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 2:4
I am delighted in by God. Isaiah 12:4
I am His beloved. Matthew 3:17
For the complete list, go here.