Many people struggle with personal identity, they don't know their worth or value in this world. Physiologist who study child development have learned that by age seven one's self-image is formed. Who we believe we are and how we perceive others see us is created at this very early stage of our development. One area that deeply affects our identity is our relationships and how they play out in our lives good or bad.
We must realize that no matter their effect on us relationships are a gift to us from God, as they help us grow spiritually. Whether it is a romantic relationship, a friendship, or our children, relationships are given to help us learn how to love and serve others and how to fully love God. We must not get our worth from them good or bad, as they do not define who we are.
Our relationships can truly challenge us and help refine our character but they must never define us. This is a profound truth that God shared with me and that I've had to learn in my healing journey.
The devil (Satan) wants us to believe a lie, that we need these relationships to tell us who we are. So often we get wrapped up in our relationships, we label them, we claim them for our own. We become so focused on the person and finding our worth from them, we forget who we really are and what the purpose of the relationship was in the first place. When we live this way, we become toxic and so do our relationships. Without most of us realizing it, this gift of a relationship becomes about them giving us something so we can feel worthy, and no longer about us giving to them. We become attached to something which was never meant to be owned.
The real danger in living like this is that there is another dynamic at play that's even more powerful than any diabolical plan the enemy of our souls can muster up. It's the work of own soul which is often innocently very egotistical and so unlike our spirit, is very selfish and self-seeking.
The soul defined as our mind, will, and emotions, longs for knowledge, power, and importance, to be known and feel significant. Our spirit longs to know the truth of who we are, and what our purpose is and to be in fellowship with God our Creator. The spirit wants an intimate relationship with God, but the soul and flesh will work on their own apart from the spirit, thus allowing Satan access as well. Jesus warned us of this himself in Mathew 26:41 Watch and pray, that you don't enter into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
As a narrow gate traveller, we must learn to walk in our spirit and bring our soul and flesh into obedience to Christ. It's easy for us to fall asleep or take the easy road on the journey of finding one's deepest self. This journey is long and often arduous, and in our pursuit to truly know ourselves and our creator, we can tire easily and we often want to just fall asleep and let something or someone else tell us who we are. It's easier to attach ourselves to a person or a thing and let them define us.
I once realized I was getting my worth from my daughter's accomplishments. She was taking a swimming lesson again that she had already failed once. The teacher said, "It's not looking good, I may have to fail her again." I somehow twisted what was happening in her young life into a lie that I wasn't a good Mom because she wasn't as good a swimmer as the other kids. At this point, I was new in my walk with God and had no idea who I was in Christ. I was upset at myself and my daughter for not being a good swimmer. Wow!
I wanted to share this example because these are the traps we get caught in. It certainly didn't make her any less of the beautiful person and a blessing to me that she was. I was insecure, getting my worth from my parenting and I was allowing her life situation to define me, that was until God got a hold of me. While lamenting to him in prayer, he first showed me that this was how I was raised and why I thought it was ok to act this way. I then realized that failure was a normal part of life and it doesn't define her and certainly not me. My job as a Mom was to just love her through it no matter the outcome. I changed my attitude and my daughter went on to pass and became a good swimmer.
So many families live under this curse of perfectionism because they do not truly understand who they are. It's okay to set goals for ourselves and our kids but we can never find our worth by ours or others accomplishments. In God's eyes, we are valuable no matter what we do. He loves us unconditionally and this is how we are to love the people God gives to us, especially our families. Not easy I know, but possible with the spirit of God operating in us.
Others find their identity in their career or a title, or perhaps a nice home, or degrees on their wall. These things, in reality, become false gods that society says are how we define our worth. The soul believes that these temporal things are who we are, that they define us. These things are nice to have and are great accomplishments, but they are not who we are.
The Bible says that those things are rubbish (one translation even says dung) compared to knowing Jesus.
Philippians 3:8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
When we use things and people to define ourselves this causes us to hold on and control, instead of receiving them freely. So when people (or things) disappoint or don't live up to our expectations (and they will) we suffer and we feel lost and unsure of ourselves, because our identity is dependent on that person or thing.
When we get laid off and lose our job we feel afraid and discouraged, without that label we can feel worthless. When the kids leave home or the bank account drains, we stumble around no longer able to find our way. When our spouse or a friend doesn't show us the love we need, we grab for something else to help us feel better, a substance that helps numb our pain, or we just replace the job or the relationship with a new one.
2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
What we really need, is to know the love of God, expressed through Jesus Christ. God in His wisdom gave us Jesus and when we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we truly begin the journey to know our true identity.
Everyone was created by God for a purpose. We all have a God-given mission. When we begin our walk with Jesus we begin to figure this out.
Isaiah 55:11 So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You see, when it becomes about what we want, we lose sight of who we truly are and what we are here to do. We are here for only a short time to give, to love God and to love others. To serve others and not just to be served. When we look to people or things and not our creator to define us, we become lovers of self not lovers of others.
Today, I challenge you to check your heart and ask yourself some honest questions. Where do I get my worth from? Is it from people and roles I play in my life? Do I know who I truly am in Christ? As a believer in Jesus Christ, you are so much more.
If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior here are just a few things the Bible says you are: (from Neil T. Anderson, Identity In Christ)
John 1:12 I am God's child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified (declared righteous).
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ's body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.
John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God's temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 I am God's workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
Today, may you know that this is who you truly are. Print this list off and the next time your old soul wants to find it's worth in this world or the devil is speaking lies to you about your identity, read over this list. Better yet look these verses up in the Bible yourself and memorize some of them so you can speak them out loud and take every thought captive, no matter where it came from.
Have a blessed day!
Prayer: Lord, help us to not define our worth by temporal things but to define ourselves by what the Word of God says about us. Show us any areas in our lives where we have defined our value by people and things. Lord make us a vessel of your honor and love today, may we clearly see our relationships as an opportunity to give back, just as you did. In Jesus Name AMEN!
If you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior yet, then pray this: Jesus I want to know who you say I am and not this world. I give you my life today, come into my heart and make me new. AMEN! If you prayed that prayer for the first time today you are now born again in your spirit, please message me and let me know you prayed this prayer. email@example.com
Laura Sterling - narrowgatetraveller.com
Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journeyand cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. James 1:2-4D