What is my identity? What does that mean? How do I identify? What defines me?
I am created in the image of God. I am a Christian. I am a woman. I am Caucasian. These define me. They make up my identity.
But growing up in the conservative Christian church, I often felt like my identities were treated like boxes to be lived in instead of treasures to be celebrated. They felt more like labels to be worn than titles to be explored. They felt more like words to be endured than mantels to be adorned with.
As a Christian, I am a follower of Christ. I was told my identity was Christ, which is true. But what exactly does that mean? I think many Christians are afraid of the unknown. They are afraid of not knowing what it means to have the identity of Christ and what that looks like.
I was just told by the church what I should look like. I was told what to act like. I felt pressured to look like other Christians in the church. It’s almost as if many Christians in the church don’t trust the Spirit to lead and guide Christians in living their lives. And so Christians tell other Christians how to live and be and act. And if they don’t tell them explicitly, they imply it through peer pressure or actions or sermons or silent and disapproving looks. And because of that, I never felt I could trust myself with my God-given identities and figuring them out, exploring them, and loving them. I never felt I could hear the voice of God’s Spirit over the sound of all the other voices.
I would have sacrificed myself on the altar of church.
I would have gone down the path of taking my own life because I believed I didn’t fit what the church said I should be.
I almost thought I had to.
God protected me from that trap so that I can now grow into fully being who God intended and created me to be.
God showed me my identity is not the church. My identity is not what the church says my identity looks like. My identity is not what other people tell me I should act like. My identity is in Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith and the creator of humanity. With such a creative force behind my life, why become entrapped by what people say I should look like? God is within me as a Spirit so I have God’s ability to live my life as God designed. And I don’t have to settle for comparing myself to any other human because God’s design for them looks completely different from God’s design for me. I wish the church would encourage more listening to God’s Spirit instead of the church taking the role of speaking for God.
So what is my identity? It’s what God creates in me. It’s what God leads me to be. It’s what God confirms in me. Identity in Christ is so much more than what people say it is. My identity is a gift, it’s an adventure, and I am not alone in it. My identity is not something to be shamed by or be in bondage to. My identity is given to me by God. My identity is greater than myself. My identity is boundless because it is from God. My identity is my life.