Who am I? Really? This is one of the subconscious questions that we continually ask ourselves and the answer we choose is critical to our life.
So what are the choices?
My identity could be based on things like my tribe, nation, behavior, sexual preference, achievements, role, other’s opinions, my delusional thoughts, physical appearance, intellectual abilities, education, awards, heritage, toys, peer group, level of power, relationships with others, pedigree, position, gender, marital status, wealth/poverty, political affiliation, job, career, caste or culture.
Here are some quotes I found on identity. Notice how unreliable most are.
- Our flag is our identity… – Gautam Gambhir
- Your brand is your public identity… – Lisa Gansky
- Myths give us our sense of personal identity… – Rollo May
- Songwriting was the biggest way I found my identity. – Camila Cabello
- My identity is very clear to me now, I am a black woman. – Lena Horne
- When you break up, your whole identity is shattered. – Dennis Quaid
- When your identity is found in Christ, your identity never changes. You are always a child of God. – Tim Tebow
Your identity could even be based on religious things like the Book of Mormon, Book of Discipline, Torah, Koran, the Bible (Old & New Testaments), a denomination, meaningful rituals, church membership, past vows, something you read like a horoscope.
With so many choices for identity, there is a reason we see people pursuing life in both constructive and destructive ways. Let’s take three individuals who have settled on their identity and consider the results.
Let’s say my identity is that I am just one of the billions of people on the planet, no one special, born-live-die, all without any real meaning. How will that belief impact my reactions to difficulties in life? How will it change the way I make decisions? Will I see more or less meaning for my life? Will I value others more or less? How will it affect my marriage relationship and my commitment to fidelity with my spouse? What will I value the most?
Now, let’s say my identity is that I am a child of a loving creator, designed in the womb, beloved, watched over and I have an unseverable relationship and value with Him? Will I consider others more or less valuable? Will I feel less fear and take more risks? Will I see my life as having more or less meaning? What will I do differently if I encounter disappointments, challenges and setbacks? How will that affect my view of and relationship with my spouse?
Lastly, let’s consider a third person who bases their identity in their job and success within it. What will they value? What risks will they take or not take? What will improve their life or tear it down? How will a marriage relationship fare with this person? What will they leave behind for others?
I believe how you and I answer the question of “Who am I?” matters significantly. Yet, in some ways, the question is never settled. It is one we must answer every day. And depending on the challenges of the day or the season of life it can be asked many times.
I think of how many times I have encountered problems and wondered if God still cared or if I still mattered to Him?
If the answer was NO, then I had a real problem.
If the answer was YES, then I had an understanding problem and I needed to get my thinking back in line with God.
Now that I’ve brought Him up, I’ve noticed that God’s word has much to say about this question of identity.
So where do we see the question of identity addressed in the Bible?
John 12:12 (Child of God), John 15:16 (Chosen), Romans 6:8 (Freed from slavery), 1 Peter 2:9 (special possession of God), Ephesians 2:10 (God’s Poem), 2 Corinthians 5:17 (new creation), Ephesians 2:19-20 (members of God’s household), Ephesians 5:22 (Dwelling place of Holy Spirit), Romans 8:29-30 (we are no accident!).
There are literally hundreds of other verses I could list. What is clear is that God desperately wants to speak to us about this topic of identity.
What is clear is that God desperately wants to communicate this issue of identity to you and I.
And think about it. Didn’t He send a living example, Jesus of Nazareth, to confirm it?
Jesus came not just to remind us about our identity in God’s eyes, but to settle the issue once and for all. Jesus did it by opening the way to adoption into God’s family despite our complete lack of credentials and sinful rebellion.
So why do we still struggle in this area? One day we are on fire and the next day we struggle to lift our heads. It seems our identity rises and falls regularly based our emotions, physical strength and changing beliefs.
But the great news is that our behavior and emotions do not affect the power or will of God. And our emotions do not control reality. We are who God says.
2 Timothy 2:11-13
Even when we are low on faith (faithless), God remains faithful to us. And he knows our crazy thoughts, our weakness, our frailty and our constant need for affirmation. Psalm 103:13-18
So let me summarize all of these thoughts on Identity.
- Every human desires to know their true identity.
- Our identity influences what we believe about our Value and Purpose.
- We each establish our identity on something, often two or three things.
- That identity affects everything in our life.
- We struggle to maintain our identity when we encounter hardship.
- Our identity must constantly be reaffirmed.
- We can see the source of our identity in how we live.
- God has passionately declared our identity, in person.
That’s why losing or misplacing or forgetting our identity is a real problem. When you and I began to act outside our God-given identity, even temporarily, it will show. Here are some examples:
- Jealousy is basing my identity on what others have and I don’t.
- Pride is basing my identity on an exaggerated sense of who I am.
- Fear is basing my identity on anything other than God’s sovereignty.
- Paganism is basing my identity on the powers of this world.
- Lying is basing my identity on controlling the truth.
- Stealing is basing my identity on my wants.
- Insecurity is basing my identity on what I believe others think.
- Sexual sin is basing my identity on my sexual desires.
- Impatience is basing my identity on my importance.
- Self–pity is basing my identity on how I am treated.
- Anger is basing my identity on getting my will or way.
- Timidity is basing my identity on my low sense of worth.
- Greed or coveting is basing my identity on what I don’t have yet.
- Discouragement is basing my identity on circumstances.
- Addictions are finding my identity in temporary comfort.
- Anxiety is basing my identity on what I can control.
Certainly your marriage relationship is both positively and negatively impacted by the identities we actually hold. That is why it is so important, for each spouse to settle the identity questions, reaffirm each other’s identity daily and guard their biblical identity, as if it were a great treasure.
As a Christian, our identity should be based in what the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit continually affirm to us in the scriptures and often in our hearts. It is an identity that comes from our Maker, the one who knows us despite our attempts to hide. It is an unchanging identity that I can build a life upon.
This is no shifting sand of identity but a rock that can be trusted. One of the characteristics of accepting our identity from God is that it is based on a love that accepts us as we are. It is based on truth and yet accepts all of me.
And beautifully, our acceptance by God doesn’t leave us when we fail, it doesn’t pile on us in our mess and it doesn’t let us get by with vain excuses. Instead it inspires us to try, fail, get up, keep walking and find the abundant life in the acceptance only God can offer.
Getting our identity from God, also means there is no higher authority, more consistent lover or powerful ally that I could desire.
So what about you?
What message does your life advertise about your identity?
- What sources of identity do my spouse and friends see in my life?
2. What circumstances tear down my identity the most?
3. What unchangeable attribute about myself weakens my biblical identity?
4. How can my spouse/friends best encourage me in my my true identity?
5. What do I see God saying about my identity in each scripture I read?
6. How did Jesus’ identity influence his life and mission? What did he believe? 7. Who can you encourage that struggles with a similar identity challenge?
- Christian selfhood is not defined in terms of who we are in and of ourselves. It’s defined in terms of what God does to us and the relationship he creates with us and the destiny he appoints for us. God made us who we are so we could make known who he is. Our identity is for the sake of making known his identity. – John Piper
- You have your identity when you find out, not what you can keep your mind on, but what you can’t keep your mind off. – A.R. Ammons
So, how do we reaffirm our identities, as couples?
Let’s discuss that in my next post!