A STRONG IDENTITY, PART 1
As I interact with people as well as observe how others interact, it seems very clear to me how important a strong personal identity is. Let’s define “identity” first so I have a framework to illustrate what I mean. Dictionary.com had several definitions. I am going to combine three of them into one definition: “Identity is the state or fact of remaining the same person under varying conditions. It is the condition or character within a person used to describe them and it provides a sense of self, providing sameness and continuity over time.”
I would like to explore the concept of knowing yourself so well that no matter what comes your way, you navigate it with confident assurance because you know who you are. How do we attain such an identity? How does it benefit us personally? How does it benefit our relationships? Today we will address the first question.
Many of us walk around not really knowing who we are. Many did not have parents who mirrored for us God-given characteristics that we carried into life. This was one of their jobs to help us mature. Our parents should have helped us see the natural giftings given to us by our Creator and see how we fit into our history and also how we were to then carry the torch of gifts and inheritance into our future destinies. For at least a generation or two, however, much parenting looked more authoritarian where we were expected to line up, do it like it has always been done, or feel shame for being different. Or some parents thought parenting was just about meeting basic physical needs. Bummer! God created us all uniquely! Biological and spiritual parents need to ask God what He put in the children they are influencing. They need to ask Him for guidance as they raise these amazing individuals so that they fulfill the destiny He has set for them.
No need to despair, however, if you did not receive that kind of guidance. To be honest, even if you did, there are likely “holes” in your identity because, last time I checked, there is no perfect parent on this planet! You can pursue who you are in a myriad of ways. At first, it would be important to identify and acknowledge that messages in the past about who you are. Be aware that they may or may not be true. Decided to enter into a season where you hold those messages loosely. Write them down for awareness, but determine to allow the possibility that they may not be as true as you have thought. Ask God to direct you and give you His thoughts about what is true and not true. Also realize that there are some very clear Scriptures in His Word about who we are simply because we are His. These truths about our identity never change! If any of these truths conflict with a prior thought about ourselves, we need to renew our minds. Renounce the old and replace it with what God says. We then have to carry these truths into every situation we face and not allow the next situation,or stressor to redefine it! Here are some examples of who we are if we have made a decision to follow Christ:
I am complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10). I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me (Isaiah 54:14). I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18). I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16). I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5). I have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
There are so many more! You can download your own full list here:
Keep in mind that you will likely have to renew your mind over the same issue over and over before it becomes more a part of you. An old message for me is that I don’t know what I am doing and won’t make it in this world. Insecurity is paramount when you believe this lie. So, I have had to battle this lie with the truth constantly, especially in the beginning of my walk with God 30 years ago. I would fire back the truth that greater is He that is in me; He is the strength in any weakness I have; He has a prosperous future for me, so get behind me, Satan! The enemy will try to hit us with the same old lies throughout our lives when he thinks we are vulnerable so take good care of yourself, but know he has to flee when you use the authority of the Word.
Another way to explore who you are is to enter into healthy, godly mentoring relationships and invite those individuals to speak to what they see as the consistent gifts flowing from you. In our Thrive Ministry, we have one exercise where the class “mirrors” things we already see active in each others’ lives. It is a powerful night because what is obvious to us about the person’s giftedness, they are sometimes hearing for the first time! We usually have someone write down what is said and then put the person’s name and those characteristics on a framed graphic for the person to keep. It raises confidence when what you wonder about yourself is confirmed by others.
When you get the truth of who you are from Scripture and then more specific truth of who you are from others, start declaring those things over yourself ESPECIALLY when it doesn’t feel true! This is the process of renewing your mind. If what God says about you is different than what you or others have said, His Word is the final authority!
Next week we will go into the benefits of this strong identity, but for now I would encourage you to take this week and replace any negative thoughts about yourself and replace them with what He says. It may feel “wrong” at first if you have never renewed your mind in this way before. Please know that is the enemy trying to keep a good man or woman down! You are a new creation! The old is gone the new is come! Cooperate with that truth and get rid of the old wardrobe! Try on new spiritual clothes, ones He purchased for you with His life: His robe of salvation, His garment of praise, His robe of righteousness, His armor!
Declare over yourself, “I am who God says I am. When God looks at me, He sees the perfection His Son purchased for me! I am new! I am whole! I can do what He says I can do and, according to Him, even greater things than He did!”
Author of this post: Melanie Connell