Have you ever carried around an expired ID? When you realize this is happening, panic can set in. I had this happen to me on my honeymoon when trying to rent a car. Its hard to describe the feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I felt like a failure in my first day of marriage.
What I find so interesting about this experience is that I was still me. However, my ID stated that I was no longer able to drive a car or use this form of ID. It was only the saving grace of a half sheet of paper, printed by the DMV, that validated me once again as myself. I was highly identifiable and would be for the next 5 years.
Sometimes we have situations in our lives where we realize we are carrying around an expired ID. We find our identity in certain jobs, relationships, talents and abilities, or an array of things that can change quickly. We can get laid off, dumped, injured, etc. and the next thing we know, our identity is expired. We are no longer identifiable.
That is because, far too often, our identity is wrapped up in the wrong things. Henri Nouwen lays this out beautifully by pointing out the three things we find identity in:
I am what I do
I am what others say about me
I am what I have
This is exactly how Satan wants us to identify ourselves. “Do something and people will love you” is one of the biggest and most effective lies of Satan. This will always lead us down a path of a shaken identity, one not rooted in the truth of who we are.
So what do you do when you lose your sense of identity?
For me, I had a really hard time with this. As I wrote about in a previous blog, last year, I left the church where I was serving to embark on a season of preparation. What I didn’t realize at the time is how much my identity was wrapped up in being in ministry. After leaving, I had a real identity crisis. I felt as if I was carrying an expired ID. I used to be in ministry, but now I don’t know who I am.
Maybe you’re in a similar situation; you used to do something, be good at something, date someone, work somewhere, and that season is over. You lost something, a career, a relationship, an ability, or a dream, and now, you’re stuck with an expired ID.
Maybe its not that you lost something, but that something you thought would happen by now hasn’t. You thought you’d be in a serious relationship and off tinder, but you’re still swiping looking for Mr. or Mrs. right. Maybe you thought you’d be a higher up by now, but the promotion hasn’t come yet. You thought you’d be engaged, married, a parent, but it just hasn’t happened yet. You had a vision for your life, but it hasn’t happened, and you feel as if you have nothing solid in life to stand on.
What God quickly showed me in my own identity crisis was something that has been really formative for me. It’s simple, but I think we need to remind ourselves of this constantly. Your identity doesn’t come from your activity. You aren’t what you do, what others say about you, or what you have. Your identity isn’t defined by any failures or successes. You aren’t defined by your relationship or career status. These things may be true about you, but it is not who you are.
When we allow our identity to be defined by our activity, we do not live in the identity of who God says we are. As a child of God, God says you are the his beloved son or daughter. the Bible says this in Romans 8…
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
We do not have to fall back into the slavery of our identities being wrapped up in what we do, what others say about us, or what we have. We don’t have to live in fear, thinking that our identities are rooted in temporary things that change our identities constantly. We don’t have to worry about walking around with an expired ID, because can know who we are, and who’s we are. We are the beloved sons and daughters of God.
Sometimes, one of the hardest things to believe in the Bible is that you are the beloved of God. We feel as if our past or current failures rob us of that title. We may not feel worthy of such an identity, but we need to again remind ourselves that our identity does not come from our activity, but from the perfect love of our Father.
One of the best pictures of this is with Jesus in Mark 1. Jesus is about to begin his ministry on earth, where He will do miraculous things, and ultimately die on the cross and raise from the dead. He will make blind men see, crippled people walk, and do what only God could do. However, before any of this, before Jesus even has a chance to proclaim salvation for the first time, God tells Him exactly how He sees His Son:
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
God has amazing plans for your life. God wants to use you in a mighty way in your community, at your job, with your family, and in your church. However, before you can do any of it, you must realize that the same thing God said of Jesus is the truth that He speaks over you: you are God’s beloved son or daughter. He made you exactly how you are and is pleased with the person you are. You are not defined by your past, and your identity isn’t wrapped up in your activity. Maybe even through this blog, He is speaking over you the same thing He spoke over Jesus:
You are His beloved child, and you are exactly who He wants you to be. Cling to that identity, because it will never expire.
Trust the process. Take your next step. Now is your moment.