Read His Words Before Ours!
My name is Anna, and I am a Swede-Swiss living in Switzerland. We quite often laugh about Americans who don’t know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland. I know most of you understand the distinction, but the truth is, when the Swedish company Spotify was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, they briefly displayed the Swiss flag by mistake.
When I tell you I am Swedish and Swiss living in Switzerland, it might not sound like such a big thing for you. But for me, it has led to a crisis of identity.
Who am I, and is my identity at all important?
In some way, identity has always been something with which I have struggled. My father abandoned our family when I was a child, so identity was something I dealt with at an early age. What are we, if not a “normal” family? Who am I, if not “the girl whose father left her?” Could anything (or Anyone) else define me?
When I met Christ, I started my long journey of finding home and discovering my true identity as a daughter to the living God.
I won’t share my entire life’s story, but I moved abroad when I was only 22 years old. Somehow, I had always known my life would be spent in other countries. I have always felt drawn abroad and when I was only 15, I went on my first missionary trip to Romania. I can still remember how amazed I was by the American couple living there who invested in the poor people of Brasov.
It was in Romania I heard God’s calling over my life to live in another country. I thought He would take me to eastern Europe, to work with orphan kids, but His plans looked a little different from mine, and I ended up as a stay-at-home mom in Switzerland. My 15 year-old self would have been dumbfounded, and the questions of identity rolled on, “Who am I, if not a foreign missionary?” Could purpose and identity be found in the life I was actually living?
Living in another country, in a new culture, led me to question a lot of things in life. Activities and relationships born of and defined by proximity suddenly ceased. Instead, I gave serious thought to how I wanted to live, and began making intentional decisions. In the beginning, it was all very exciting, but after a while, it became tiring.
As time passed, I realized I didn’t really understand the culture back home in Sweden anymore. Yet, at the same time, I still didn’t feel fully at home in my new country. I continued wrestling with my identity.
Who am I then, if I’m neither Swedish nor Swiss?
Is my identity important?
As followers of Christ, from where do we derive our identity, and on what are we building our lives?
Even if you don’t live in another country, perhaps 2020 prompted you to ask similar questions. Who are we, if we can’t live our lives as we are most comfortable and familiar? Where do we find our identity as Christians? As a church, who are we if we can’t do our programs as we once had? On what foundation are we really building our lives?
My journey to discovering my true identity has been a long and winding road, but at last, I finally understood that my core identity is not found in the country of my birth or city of residence. Philippians 3:20 reminds me, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Furthermore, I am not an abandoned girl or a stranger, but an adopted daughter of the King. Indeed, “the Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16) Now, I build my life on Christ and He alone defines my identity.
You might also be asking yourself hard questions. On what are you really building your life and identity? Is it your work, your education, your nationality, or money? All of these are good, but hear me, they do not define you and cannot serve as an immovable foundation for your life.
Let’s make a subtle shift to those questions.
Instead of “who am I,” we ask “Whose am I?”
Instead of “what is the bedrock of my life,” we ask, “Who is the bedrock of my life?”
Sisters, can we let go of the definitions and labels the world stamps on us, and instead root our identities in His love alone?
I know now that I can be both Swedish and Swiss. I can eat my Swedish meatballs and my Swiss raclette and enjoy how both enrich my life. I know that at the end of the day, I am assured of God’s amazing love for me. I can run to my Father and call Him, “Abba!” because I am His daughter.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!