Throughout my life, I’ve had a few identity crisis issues. I used to strongly tie my identity to the people around me that I believed had their lives together and were strong Christians. I tried to bury my own issues and imperfections to fit in with them only to find that they weren’t who I thought they were and I wasn’t either. I learned the hard way that relying on them for my identity was a bad idea, if not verging on idolization.
After that, I found my identity in being a “crunchy mom” and associating with women who think breastfeeding is a moral imperative (while simultaneously saying they were pro-choice) and circumcision is a barbaric practice way beyond child abuse (again, while professing to value women’s and therefore mother’s choices), but that the unborn can’t matter because it would take away their choices.
I took the same identity as people whose priorities did not align with what they professed to believe, who couldn’t even consistently hold themselves to their own doctrine of not assuming things about other people and allowing others to articulate who they were.
When I stepped back, I found myself in the same place and with the same questions that I had before. If I cannot align with either of these, what can I align with and more importantly, who am I if I am not seeing myself through the lens of an earthly relationship? Friend of, enemy of, mother of, wife of, daughter of…
Recently, someone close to me found out that a huge part of their identity has been a lie for over five decades. It’s been earth-shattering and traumatic. Not only at the loss of who they thought they were, but at the loss of time burying some of the truth.
All of the answers may not be recoverable for them, and the questions they have turn back to identity. If someone cannot know their past and the people in it, how can they know who they are?
When I first wrote this article, I was smack dab in the midst of the biggest project of my life, the equivalent of a Master’s thesis if I would have continued on with college: my book, The Scarlet Virgins. It wasn’t finished when I wrote this, but it was due to my editor in three days. I felt like I should feel nervous, worried, scared and exhausted, but I didn’t. Writing my book strengthened me because it forced me to find the answers I looked for in the Word of God. I struggled with identity so much in the wake of everything I’ve been through and everything I had to dig back up to write my book, but I found it in the One who tells me who I am with certainty and conviction.
The answer is that I am a child of God. I’m not what I have been through. I’m not defined by who has let me down. My worth isn’t dictated by people who chose to walk away or leave me. I don’t have to or need to look to fallen human beings to tell me who I am or where I belong. God tells me that I am His sheep, part of His flock.
It doesn’t matter if I do or don’t belong to one type of parenting group or another. It doesn’t matter if I do or don’t know my zodiac sign. It doesn’t matter what type of pizza or animal or character Buzzfeed tells me I am. It doesn’t matter whether or not someone thinks I’m “damaged goods” or a “good girl.”
It doesn’t even matter, ultimately, if I do not know who my earthly father, mother, or grandparent is. Because I know who I am, and I know who my Father is.
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.”
I have no doubt that if you are a living, breathing human being, you have heard the phrase “Be yourself” at some point in your life.
The number of times in junior high that I was told this phrase are probably innumerable, and it only became more frequent as time went on. It was used as motivational material for many graduations and ceremonies I attended as a kid. Usually it was meant to be encouraging, but I always came away from the conversations and presentations feeling more confused than when I went in.
The only place I can recall not hearing the phrase “Be yourself” was my church. I suspect that is because being yourself as a Christian means acknowledging that you are a poor, miserable sinner, and that is not a good thing (without Jesus, anyways).
While I agree with that assessment, I tend to not like the phrase for a very different reason, especially when it is told to young people. It seems like nothing but more of the mindless, feel-good rhetoric that pervades our culture.Continue Reading