Monday, June 4, 2018

Identity


When I was in high school we were given the assignment to write down all of our identities—daughter, sister, friend, student, etc. After some thought, I was amazed by the number of titles by which I identified.
The difference between my identities back then and the identities people take on today, is that all of my identities were positive. I didn’t identify with negative characteristics or temporary conditions. If I was bummed about a break-up with my boyfriend, I didn’t add ‘depressed’ to the list. I also didn’t add ‘ex-girlfriend’. That wasn’t me—it was something that happened to me. Sure, I was down sometimes, and I felt alone and confused a lot of the time. But I embraced the knowledge that I was a teenager and that all of the shyness and awkwardness and moodiness was temporary.
Later in my life, when the days were long and the frustration of raising three kids weighed on me, I didn’t identify as lonely, depressed and anxious. I knew it was a time to pass through. My kids would not be little forever. I didn’t place labels on myself because I’ve always been in transition…everyone is.
Today, people are quick to identify with conditions, sexual preferences, and life changes. “I’m an ex-con” or “I’m gay” or “I’m a divorcee” or “I’m an addict” or “I’m autistic.” Even if a person is any one of those things, is that the sum of who they are? Why is it so important to advertise to the world our struggles or conditions or our past? Even real conditions are but a piece of the whole. You may be anxious, but you’re also funny and organized. You may be autistic, but you’re intelligent and kind too. You may be divorced but you’re also creative and patient. I realize that for some, labels are broadcast for attention. But the temporary coddling by others will eventually subside and, like a label on a bottle, you’ll be left with a negative residue on your life.
As believers, God does not call us by our conditions, our past or our life choices. He calls us beloved, accepted, adopted sons and daughters, heirs of God, royalty, valuable, created in His image. None of those things jive with any of the world’s identifiers.
The enemy of our souls would have us identify by the things of the world—by the temporary or the negative—to take on labels that cause disappointment, guilt and shame. The world’s labels lead to our dissatisfaction with God’s beloved creation—you and me. 
Romans 8:1 says: For there is no condemnation in Christ, for those who are in Christ Jesus. A rough translation: If I am in Christ, the world's labels do not define me.
I noticed something after the last school shooting (I'm so tired of school shootings). As the names of the victims were revealed, they were described as "compassionate, a friend to everyone, funny, loving, generous" and on and on. Is that how they identified when they were alive? Did they identify as compassionate when they left for school that morning or did another label supersede the positive one? Have you told someone today, how generous or loving or funny they are? 
No matter what we’re going through or how we see ourselves at this moment, time is passing. Circumstances are changing. Our lives are in motion. We may be broken today but tomorrow we will be mended. We may be weak in one area but we’re strong in others.
Consider the labels you attach to yourself. Choose a new identity. Claim the one that God has given to you—beloved.
Have a blessed day my precious reader.            

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