If there’s one word that encapsulates the times we’re living in now, it’s uncertainty. And there’s nothing like uncertainty to make us question who we are, what we’re supposed to be doing and pretty much the whole point of our existence.
The two of us know a bit about uncertainty.
Seven years ago, this month, we lost our ministry and all we held dear and began the greatest “falling upward” experience of our lives. This lasted several years. It was in all the perplexing shakedown of our lives we learned how to better experience our True selves in God.
And we saw some of the ways we’d grossly misapplied what we had thought was our identity.
(We were so upended by this that we centered the first book out of our crisis around the profound lessons we were learning about living, loving and leading in our true and false identities. If you’re interested, you can check out Nothing to Prove: Find the Satisfaction & Significance You’ve Been Striving for at the Core of Your True Identity.
In a minute, we want to give you five lies to watch out for when it comes to sorting out your identity in challenging times, but, first, let us say why we think the identity piece is so critical.
How we experience our identity determines everything
we think, do and say all day, every day.
EVERY single thing.
That means in times of crisis the internal lens we use to translate our world can be the difference between peace and fear, hope and helplessness, confidence or complaint.
Jesus Never Had An Identity Crisis
When we read the Bible it’s important to pay attention to the “first mentions.” It’s a big deal when something is said or done for the first time. So, it’s significant that the first words ever recorded of God speaking to Jesus declared his identity.
“ …. this is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3)
If getting his identity right was job one for Jesus, it must be the same for us. Standing in the security of his true identity got Jesus through the worst the world threw at him.
There’s a lot we could say about this, but, for the moment, let’s look at five lies of identity we all fall for. They originated with author and theologian, Henri Nouwen, and we’ve altered them a bit.
- I am what I possess (What I have or don’t have shapes how I view myself/who I believe myself to be.)
- I am my job description (The roles I play, the work I do determine how I see myself/who I believe myself to be.)
- I am who others say I am (The comments others make or don’t make /whether good or bad tell me who I am.)
- I am my worst moment (My flaws, failures and mistakes show myself and others who I am /they affect who I believe I am)
- I am my best moment. (My successes, commendations and good deeds inform me of who I am /they confirm for me and others my identity.)
Take another look at this list and note one or two of the “go to”
lies you most often let define you.
One way to know if you’re believing a lie about your identity is to ask if the action originates from outside you. Anything that comes from outside you can be given to you or taken away from you. Your True Self in God is not refundable. It is non-negotiable. It is unchangeable, immovable, unshakable, untouchable.
It doesn’t flinch at the stock market. It won’t clamor for complements. It is perfectly settled, whole, and totally unfazed by even the slightest ups or downs.
Your True Self in God is the One Constant Eternal Ok place within you.
That’s why in times of uncertainty, when confusion reigns, we count on our safe place, our Shelter. That place where our life is hidden with Christ in God. Learning to daily experience ourselves in THAT place where no sickness or job loss or pay cut can alter the peace that reigns there- for us –that is living on earth as it is in heaven.