The Daily Identity Crisis

If you look at news headlines today, you will see a recurrent theme- identity.

At the end of the day, I can’t think of a more hot button topic.

Identity in relations to gender, identity politics, identity theft…This list could go on and on.

I think that this is such an issue in current times because, for all of our searching and tripping and falling and begging, we simply cannot uncover the answer to this question:

Who am I?

Basically, what I’ve noticed about myself is that my identity was and, often, still is tied to expectations, both from others and of myself.

Expectations are good, don’t get me wrong, but I think that they can be soul-crushing.

So often, they’re a ball and chain that we lug about through this life, a constantly-changing standard we must attain. We jump to try and hit the bar for what others expect of us and what we expect of ourselves.

I feel like they are pretty universal experiences.

You are expected to do this as a mother.

You are expected to do that in a relationship.

You are expected to go this far for your career.

And let’s not even brush on the heaviest expectations:

Those we have on ourselves.

My identity- how I see myself- often depends on my ability to meet the expectations tied with the various roles I’m in in my life.

I think all of us assume our identities from different places. Basically, our acting in various role defines us, and I hate to tell you this, but our faith in these identities is false. It isn’t healthy.

Rather, it is exhausting.

Basing your self-worth on fragile sources requires so much work because you rely on your own sheer willpower to meet an ever-changing standard.

Wondering if your basis for your identity is misplaced? Here are a few of the main places we are most likely to (mistakenly) place our identities.

Career

A common problem for me, a habitual performer.

You may place your identity on this if you…

  • Feel anxiety when others succeed in your field.
  • See others’ success as a threat to yourself and your performance.
  • Sacrifice whatever it takes for your career.
  • Judge your self-worth by your achievements at work.

Relationship Status

Married, in a relationship, or single? I feel like this applies regardless.

You may place your identity on this if you…

  • Feel less worthy if you do not have a significant other.
  • Feel anxiety about timing running out without having a significant other.
  • Have a habit of smothering another with false expectations.
  • Genuinely fear that you would be nothing without your significant other.

Children

This is probably one of the most difficult ones in an age of Pinterest-perfection mothering.

You may hinge your identity on this if you…

  • Tie your self-worth to your child’s achievement.
  • Measure your level of success to that of your child’s.
  • Believe your parenting was bad if your child misbehaves.
  • Compare your children and your parenting to that of others.

Physical Appearance

This is a pitfall for me because I’ve struggled with the way I look for a long time. This is probably the greatest contributor to our culture’s obsession with materialism.

You may tie your identity to this if you…

  • Depend your happiness on the number that pops on the scale.
  • Spend substantial amounts of time thinking about your body/ how it looks every day.
  • Compare your looks to others with no grace for yourself.
  • Spend whatever it takes to meet the cultural standard of attraction.

What You Have

Materialism: the fuel of a rat race in order to beat the Joneses (or maybe just how they look on Facebook.

You may tie your identity to this if you…

  • Have spending habits that coincide with cultural trends.
  • Feel as if the best part of buying something new is showing it off.
  • Respond with jealousy, not happiness, when someone you know gets something new.
  • Feel as though what you have represents your worth and success in life.

So what do we do here? You now know what this looks like, so how do we solve it? I think that these pitfalls of humanity show evermore the grace of Jesus.

Jesus came to break the chains of identity. He calls us to find our identity solely in Him. We are no longer defined by the stuff of this world. When He adopts us, our self-worth depends entirely on who He says we are. Two Scriptures that relate to this:

John 8:31-32- To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:36- Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Both mention freedom because, effectively, that’s what Jesus does: He frees us when we follow what He offers.

When we come to know Him, we are free. The only identity that matters is who we are in Him. He tells us who we are, supplying us with an identity that cannot be threatened.

That cannot be changed.

So what does that do for me? It frees me.

I am free to do my best at work, be a reasonable human being because it does not define me.

I am free to be single or be in a relationship and trust that God’s plan and timing is perfect.

I am free to be a mother (one day, maybe??) and know that, whether my kid is on the honor roll or wilding out, his or her performance does not define me.

I am free to be healthy yet still enjoy my life and not waste my money on beauty because it does not define me.

I am free to hold onto my money and not waste it on things I don’t really want to impress people I don’t really like because it does not define me.

I am free to do my best in this life because, ultimately, nothing this side of Heaven, outside of a relationship with Jesus defines me.

My self-identity is dripping with the blood of Jesus Christ, and my days of finding my identity in things under the sun ended because He cried out, “It is finished.”

Jesus came to break the chains and the bonds that held me to insufficiency and self-loathing because I never could be good enough. I am free and am living under His joy because He defines me, none of these other titles.

I am not preaching at you.

I am speaking to you as someone who strove for achievement for much of her life because her validation came from what she could do or win.

I am speaking to you as someone who has been broken by the desire of being good enough.

I am speaking to you as someone who still, to this very day, struggles in finding her identity in all of the categories above.

There is beauty in Jesus and the freedom He gives.

There is beauty in doing your best and resting in the trust that who you are is defined by the blood of the Lamb.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

My hope is that you’ll place your identity in the only safe in a changing world- the Immovable Rock.

Freedom is that close.

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