Who Am I?
By Melissa Crutchfield
Over the course of our lives, each person’s identity is being formed and shaped through individual experiences, relationships, culture, media, and the world around us. We are constantly seeking to define who we are in any way that we can.
David Benner, a psychologist and author of the book, The Gift of Being Yourself, defines identity as “who we experience ourselves to be — the ‘I’ each of us carries within.” We often feel the pressure to define ourselves through our jobs, financial status, successes, grades, appearance, what other people say about us, and many other means.
Difficulties in defining our identity
But what happens to our identity when we experience failure? Or lose a person’s favor? Or become burnt out in our jobs or place of service? The very foundation of our identity is shaken and altered, resulting in us hustling to define ourselves by something or someone else. A stable sense of self cannot fully exist when we place our identity in external things, because our identity will change with the constant fluctuation of circumstances in our lives.
We may receive an overwhelming amount of messages telling us to define ourselves by external measures, but what would it look like to base our identity on the way God sees us? Benner states that “an identity grounded in God would mean that when we think of who we are, the first thing that would come to mind is our status as someone who is deeply loved by God.”
How would viewing yourself in this manner change the way you live?
How God sees us
First, we must know how God sees us. One of the richest passages about identity in the Bible is found in Ephesians 1:3–14. In this passage, Paul addresses the church in Ephesus, explaining the new identity given to a person when they are in Christ.
According to Ephesians 1, believers have been blessed with every spiritual blessing; we have been chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, grace-lavished, and unconditionally loved and accepted. We are pure, blameless and forgiven. We have received the hope and security of spending eternity with God. When we are in Christ, these aspects of our identity can never be altered by what we do.
Often times, however, a gap exists between intellectually knowing these truths about who God says we are and living them out. Many times, a false belief has wedged itself between how we see ourselves and the truth of how God sees us.
For example, the opposite of “pure and blameless” would be “impure, stained or guilty.” Perhaps a life experience has caused you to feel impure, so you believe God sees you this way.
What to do with false beliefs
Once you recognize the false belief, surrender it to God in repentance, which in Greek simply means, “to change one’s mind.” Then replace the lie with truth found in Scripture.
Sometimes the lie is connected to a very real, painful experience. Take some time to grieve over the experience and invite God into the place of brokenness. Pray that He will help you believe the truth about who He says you are, and make you aware of the times you are not believing it. Then, make the choice to believe it!
We may not always “feel” forgiven or blameless, but the truth is, God sees us that way. This is where faith comes in. 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 states,
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
God has given us everything that we need to demolish strongholds or false beliefs, and he empowers us to do so. It’s a battle worth fighting, because when we see ourselves how God sees us, it impacts everything about us!
Melissa is currently pursuing an MA in Counseling with a desire to impact individuals on a deep, soul level. She is a lover of people, food, culture, beauty, learning and travel.