The Issue of Identity
Human beings are complex creatures. We are a cohesive mix of mind, body, soul, and emotions. And life is complex too. So it’s not surprising that sometimes we get a little out of balance. In other words, sometimes life takes a toll us. Sometimes our bodies become weak. Sometimes our emotions try to guilt us into skipping out on rest, while our souls whisper God’s truth to us that it’s good and holy to rest. And sometimes our minds just don’t stop—our thoughts keep pumping through our brains at lightning speed, no matter how tired we are.
Life and identity are confusing enough for adults—so many items seek our attention. But let’s think about where our girls are for a second: their brains are still developing, they’re starting to branch out and discover who they are and who they want to become, and they’re constantly surrounded by other young women who are trying to do the same thing.
Our girls are either beginning to notice how well they compare to others, or they are well entrenched in the comparison game already. This is a huge part of figuring out who we are. We tend to measure ourselves by cultural standards, and sometimes, even church standards.
Many different voices scramble for first place in the fight for our identity.
I use the word fight on purpose, not to make it seem like we are set against others, but because the ruler of this world (Satan) is set against us (John 14:30). Don’t be too discouraged, though, Jesus defeated death and sin on the cross and the enemy has no power over Him (John 14:30), but the world is currently under the enemy’s influence (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19). And he actively seeks us out. The Bible even says he looks for someone “to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
Satan also chooses to hit us where we’re the weakest, and if we’re not steady in our identity, if we’re not rooted in who we are in Christ—we’re in trouble. This is one of the enemy’s main tactics: making us question our identity, infusing confusion about who we are, what that means, and what we’re here to do. Throw in the complications of growing up, being a teen in today’s world, and realizing that there are other factors (biology, environment, personality) that play into our mental health—and true identity seems to get lost in the mix. Identity is about who we are—every single piece of us.
Christians face a unique tension when it comes to self-image because our “self-image” doesn’t actually come from ourselves.
This is why I choose to use the word identity. As we grow up, even our perception of identity begins to shift. Children tend to see themselves in more concrete terms, describing their physical characteristics. Teens and adults will focus more on abstract concepts, such as describing themselves by what they stand for, what they study, or different personality traits and preferences.
From this, we can tell that our girls will be able to see themselves more holistically—this is a good thing. Because looking at ourselves holistically means we’re able to appreciate the whole of who God made us to be—thoughts, ideas, emotions, soul, and body. Even though seeing ourselves holistically is a good thing, we need an anchor to which we can hold in the instability of changing bodies, changing preferences, changing ideas, changing culture, and so on.
In a world of constant change, our girls need a rock-solid anchor that they can hold onto.
How can we help?
Satan may hold some sway in the world currently, but the Bible says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20a). Thankfully, God made a way for us. Our identity isn’t about us, so much as it is about Him—more accurately, who we are in Him.
With all the voices around us competing for our time and attention, screaming out over us about who we should be and who they want us to be, labeling us with all kinds of names and damaging words—may we find comfort in the fact that we already know who we are. Because we know that we belong to Him.
Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, our Savior. Through Him, we have been reconciled to God (Rom. 5:8-10; 2 Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:19-20). God is the Father, and He has adopted us into His family—we are His, and this is where we root our identity (Eph. 1:5; 5:1-11). This is how we know who we are. And this is how we can help our girls understand who they are.
Take a look at what God’s Word says:
- You were created in God’s Image.
- “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.” —Genesis 1:27
- You are a new creation in Christ.
- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” —2 Corinthians 5:17
- You are a child of God.
- “To all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God.” —John 1:12a
- “For through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.” —Galatians 3:26
- You are a part of a body of believers, the body of Christ.
- “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.” —1 Corinthians 12:27
- You are more than conquerors.
- “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” —Romans 8:37
- You are a citizen of heaven.
- “Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” —Philippians 3:20
- You are holy and dearly loved.
- “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” —Colossians 3:12
- You are the temple of God.
- “Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” —1 Corinthians 3:16
- You are an ambassador for Christ.
- “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: ‘Be reconciled to God.’ ”—2 Corinthians 5:20
- If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, you are born again.
- “Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ” —John 3:3
- You are justified in Christ.
- “They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” —Romans 3:24
- You are saved and called by God.
- “He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” —2 Timothy 1:9
- You were chosen, set apart, and appointed.
- “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” —Jeremiah 1:5
- You are known.
- “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” —Psalm 139:13
No, knowing our identity doesn’t solve the problem of misunderstandings in the church about mental health. No, knowing our identity doesn’t cure mental illness. No, knowing our identity doesn’t mean we will never struggle with believing the truth about our identity. But, when we know who we are in the One who created us, when we know how much He loves and cares for us, when we know that we are secure in Him—we have a strong and steady hand to lead us to peace, to stability, and to hope.
*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture was taken from the CSB.
By: Stephanie Livengood