By Sheryl Tay, Singapore
Jay Gatsby had an identity crisis. Sure, his perseverance was admirable, but his efforts were aimed at pleasing multiple characters in his life. Yes, he did become Jay Gatsby—his ideal persona (his real name was James Gatz), but he did so by engaging in corruption. Yes, he did become Daisy’s lover, but he was not her only lover. Yes, he did become one of the legendary Meyer Wolfsheim’s business partners, but Wolfsheim was a partner who did not care much about Gatsby’s death.
So Gatsby’s efforts were in vain.
The world is always changing and its demands on us will constantly change too. When we, like Gatsby, let the world defines us, we too will get caught up in an identity crisis and become thoroughly exhausted. However, despite the world’s ephemeral nature, God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6 ESV). In fact, He loves us even though we fell short of His standards (Romans 5:8)!
So to overcome this crisis, all we need to do is identify ourselves the way God identifies us. But how do we even uncover God’s perceptions of us?
Here are a few ways you can discover your identity in Christ:
1. Build your relationship with your Father in heaven.
Instead of building a relationship with everyone in the world (like Gatsby), why not build a relationship with your heavenly Father? Surely He who has created us knows us best!
We can do so by…
a) Reading and studying the Bible.
Get away from the lies of the world and take refuge in God’s truth. In His Word, God continually assures us of who we are in His eyes. His perceptions of us are always true!
b) Engaging in prayer—a conversation with God.
Most of us know that we speak to God through prayer, but what about listening to what He has to say to us? Remember: a “conversation” is not a conversation when it’s only us speaking and God listening. The more time we spend with God, the easier it becomes for us to engage in conversation with Him.
2. Build your relationship with fellow believers.
Fellow believers can remind us of our identity in Christ whenever we are put down by the world. Being a part of that community encourages and spurs us on to walk in love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25).
And being sure of our identities in Christ (it’s a non-exhaustive list!), we need discipline and perseverance to lead a life worthy of our identity. We must “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and . . . run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Experiencing an identity crisis? Perhaps, you’ve been feeding too much on the media and letting the world shapes the way you see yourself. Thankfully, unlike Jay Gatsby, our lives do not need to continue to spiral downwards. Today, we can do an overhaul and start discovering our identity in Christ.