When I was a youth pastor, I gave a talk on how God makes us all unique and why that’s a good thing. Later in small groups, I heard one of the most memorable answers to a question ever. I asked, “When is it difficult to be yourself?” One (rather sarcastic) junior high boy immediately answered, “When you’re a victim of identity theft.”
We laughed so hard that the rest of the small group was useless. It was awesome!
How true though—even beyond just our financial identity. Our sense of self is often placed in things that can be easily stolen and make us question why we exist if not for those things.
I draw so much of my worth from the wrong places. I’ve found that the good things in my life can take on too much power and begin to be the thing I define myself by rather than an outpouring of my true self. So I started making a list of all the things that I am tempted to make my identity but are really just identity thieves that steal who I actually am. Here are a few:
- My weight is not my true identity.
- My home and its cleanliness are not my true identity.
- My past is not my true identity.
- My career is not my true identity.
- My exercise routine is not my true identity.
- My successes and failures are not my true identity.
- My credit score is not my true identity.
I think of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well in John 4 where He declares that there is living water that will satisfy all thirsts. I feel like I’ve drank deeply from living water, but I keep going back to the number on the scale to know how valuable I am this week. I’ve felt the satisfaction of a content life in Jesus’ grace covering me, but I keep wanting to define myself by my latest accomplishment rather than God’s redemptive accomplishment in me.
So this is your reminder of what you already know. Your true identity is never found in the moving parts of your life. Jobs come and go. Weight fluctuates. Kids grow up and leave the house. But your identity is found in the foundational, unshakeable truth that God loves you.
No matter what phase of life you are in, no matter who successful or failure laden you feel at this moment, your identity isn’t in those things. You are who God says you are. Lean in to that. Put all of the heaviness in your heart there, and you’ll find that the less you think your identity is about you, the more solidified it will be.