Climb the right ladders. Wear the right clothes. Be seen with the right people. Make socially acceptable choices. Work hard to achieve success. Make the right-sized paycheck. Be independent. Be self-sufficient. Get noticed. Get respect.
Is there any doubt about the messages the world bombards us with? And not only that, but all of these above statements drill home on the true question each and every one of us face: Where is my identity? All of these things do little to answer the question or assuage any doubt about the self. In fact they can reverse progress and cause a personal identity to fall into crisis.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I struggle with this. I don’t have everything figured out, but I’ve been learning how to listen to what God says about identity. The book of Proverbs is a perfect example of the chunks of wisdom that can be a source of direction when heeded and needed.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.” ~Proverbs 3:3-4
There is a direct connection between attitude (love) and actions (faithfulness) when it comes to accepting an honorable identity. I find it’s important to go there first and perform an attitude gut check before following through on any possible decisions. Then being faithful to my duties, whatever they may be, and being faithful to those whom I am committed. The next two verses are also connected in a very important way:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6
There are times when we cannot problem solve our way out of the box that traps us. This too has been a current struggle for my family as we’ve dealt with my wife losing her job and her unemployment benefits being initially denied. There have been days where we feel like we’re hanging by a thread of hope, but that hope is always tied to Jesus. We’ve learned how to submit everything we have and all that we are into his care at the foot of the cross, letting the things that are inconsequential die there while the things that are important are healed and given new purpose.
Caity too has struggled with her new identity as her previous one was wrapped up in working at her old job, serving people and making them happy; but now she is learning how to accept her new identity in Christ as a servant no-matter-what the position or paycheck. She is currently a homemaker and starting to enjoy the new freedom.
I too have been learning how to submit everything at the foot of the cross, including my fears and hopes. Fears of realizing that my current job cannot alone provide financially for my family. Hopes of being a full time author as the next step in this journey. There are other more minor fears and hopes too, but the biggies have kept me up at night. This last week I had a moment of revelation from Caity–I needed to let these things go; submit them to God and be ready to accept their death and/or resurrection. They are some of the last things I’ve been white-knuckling with my grip.
In the end I let it go. I let it all go. And with it went my stress and tension. In its place now sits excitement. I’m strapped in for the ride but I don’t have to drive–what a relief! I don’t even know where we’re going yet, but I know that God is faithful. He will make my path straight.
I am relieved to know my identity is firmly in Christ and no longer in crisis. Where is your identity?
SOLI DEO GLORIA!