When my sister and I were young, my mom would record us answering a few questions on our birthday about our age, our numbers, and our favorite song.
“Hi, my name is Debbie. I’m four.
One, two, three, four.”
But, the following year, it sounded like this:
“Hii, my naame is Deebbiie.
Ooone, twoo, threeee, foour, fiiiiive.”
Clearly, something drastic had changed about me.
It only took six weeks in kindergarten to adopt a Texas accent!
Decades later, Texas still remains a strong part of my personal identity. It doesn’t take long in a conversation with a new friend to discuss my roots in the Lone Star State. If we are both from Texas, we might even start a verse of the state song.
I experienced something similar when I became a Christian at a young age. I adopted a strong sense of identity in Christ. I learned I was:
– Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14)
– Made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)
– A new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
– Adopted as a child of God (Romans 8:15)
– A citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)
But, somewhere in life, other voices began defining my identity. At school, work, and in social situations, people would ask questions about who I was dating. Later, the questions were about marriage and children. I felt rejected, worthless, excluded, and ashamed. Was singleness a punishment for something I’d done wrong? Was I not “good enough” or did I need to fix some kind of character flaw before I would be “acceptable” to someone else?
This kind of thinking never solves an identity crisis, does it? I wish I could say I’ve only struggled with my identity in Christ once. One of my favorite passages is, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble.” (2 Peter 1:10)
The phrase, “make every effort”, brings a smile to my face with a memory of a neighborhood I lived in called “hill of struggle”. There was a huge staircase leading up to my apartment building, and I remember carrying groceries upstairs in all kinds of weather including wind, rain, and snow. As I think about walking up that hill, the image gives me a picture of daily walking with Jesus through difficulties! God knew it would not be easy. He sees each glorious step, and promises to never abandon!
When I fix my eyes on Jesus, my identity in Christ is in focus. I can walk in His grace.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what is the wealth of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of His strength.” (Ephesians 1:18-19)
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