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What To Do If You’ve Misplaced Your Identity

Written By Hannah Spaulding, USA

One of the latest buzzwords in today’s culture is “identity”. Whether it’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, or relationship status, there are so many ways we can identify ourselves.

Naturally, it can be confusing to figure out what our true identity should be. Even as Christians, we can place our identity in things other than Christ.

There was a time in my life where I lost myself in a desire for romantic relationships. When I was in high school, I craved being in a relationship and went through several failed relationships. Some were relationships that didn’t work out, and some were relationships that didn’t happen although I badly wanted them to. During the summer before my senior year of high school, I got to a point where I felt worn out, lost, and far from God.

One day, my thoughts drifted back to the time before I entered my first relationship. I remembered how in my earlier years of high school, I had felt so close to God that I didn’t worry about getting into a relationship. That’s when I realized that I had let my desire for a relationship get between me and God. I had stopped trusting the God of love stories to write my story, and instead had tried to take the pen and write my story myself.

After that realization, I decided I wanted to get close to God again. I wanted to give the pen back to God and trust that His stories for me would be infinitely better than anything I could come up with on my own.

However, this was easier said than done. I needed to re-center my identity back on Christ, and not let my relationship status define myself. Here were three things that helped me

 

1. Process my thoughts with God.

During the time I was trying to put God first again, I found journaling to be incredibly helpful. I’m a writer and word lover, so writing down my prayers to God helped me process my experiences.

I also noted down quotes or Bible verses in my journal that helped redirect my mind towards my goal of getting to know God better. During that time, one of the passages that reminded me of God’s nearness came from Psalm 73:23-26:

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

 

2. Re-orient my priorities.

Part of my problem was that I was focusing too much of my thoughts and energy on having a romantic relationship. My life was centered on my own desires instead of God’s desires for me.

When I realized the need to put God first in my life and get to know Him better, I began to re-orient my life around God. Whenever I started thinking too much about romantic relationships or feeling dejected because of being single, I would pray to God and remind myself that He has a plan for me.

This process is gradual. I still find myself worried, anxious, and uneasy about things going on in my life when I let my own desires take control. It is when I keep God at the center of my thoughts, decisions, and relationships that I experience peace. Even now, I still have to remind myself that putting God first is the most important and most rewarding thing.

 

3. Identify with Christ.

The knowledge that I am loved by God, and that God completes me and is all I need helps me to approach my life in a new way. Instead of searching for a partner to fulfill my own emotional and spiritual needs, I can search for a partner because I’m looking for a companion in the race God has called me to run.

There’s nothing wrong with desiring a significant other, or desiring other things, such as good grades or good friendships. But the difference is that when I identify myself as a child of Christ, I begin to seek those things with a Christ-like attitude of wanting to glorify Him (Psalm 37:4).

 

When I look back on my life, what strikes me most is that God didn’t wait until I had it all together before bringing a significant other into my life. When I first met David, it was during the fall of my senior year, when I was still working on getting closer to God and trusting Him with my romantic relationships.

But the biggest difference between my relationship with David and my prior relationships was that it was God who brought us together. David and I met at a Christian retreat, and were both at a similar place in our faith journeys. Early on in our relationship, we both shared how each of us had struggled in the past with desiring romantic relationships and a lack of trust in God. At the time we were getting to know each other, we had both been praying that God would reveal the right person to us in His time. That was one of the first things I loved about David—that he was trying to be intentional about his relationship with God like I was.

I prayed a lot before entering my relationship with David because my plans had been to wait for college to start dating again. But I decided to trust God with our relationship, and as we grew closer, I felt even more assured that my relationship with David was not against God’s will. I’m now in my second year of college, and I’m happy to say that David and I will be celebrating our two-year anniversary in December.

I do still struggle with misplacing my identity sometimes. It’s tempting to look to David to fulfill all my needs, but I’ve found when we trust in God and turn to Him together, we are then able to love each other best.

How Do I Live Without Him?

Written by Larissa Segara, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

Have you heard the story of the little eagle which was raised as a chicken? Every day, he ate and played with the other chickens, so much so that he believed that he was one of them. One day, he saw an eagle flying high above, and gazed at the magnificent bird in awe. On noticing, the mother hen quickly told him, “That is an eagle, they live up there. Don’t ever think of being like them, they are different from the rest of us who stay on the ground.” As a result, the poor little eagle behaved as a chicken for the rest of his life.

How tragic it is when one does not live according to his or her true identity! Yet, as redeemed people of God, we often do the same, leading lives that do not reflect our true identity in Christ.

For almost six years, I let my relationships define my identity. I did not feel complete without a companion, so I started a relationship with a non-Christian man without hesitation. At the beginning, I believed that I could eventually turn him into a Christian.

But things turned out the other way around. As time went by, I became more and more dependent on my boyfriend. I started to distance myself from my family, friends, and even from God. I devoted my life entirely to my boyfriend, and started to believe that I could not live without him. That’s when I realized there was something wrong with my thinking—my boyfriend had become my idol. But I did not know what to do. Even when problems arose and we started to grow apart—to the point when he wanted to end our relationship—I refused to let him go. We had talked about our future together, and I did not want it to end. So, I tried my best to keep the relationship going.

Five years into our relationship, I went to another city in Indonesia for two months while he moved to another country. There, my boyfriend did things that broke my heart. The worst was when I found out he had cheated on me. For many days, I prayed and asked God for strength to get out of the relationship. Finally, with a heavy heart, I decided to break up with my boyfriend. Not too long after that, he found a new girlfriend.

At first, it seemed impossible to go back to a normal life. I would wake up every day with my heart racing, overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. I lost my appetite and did not want to do anything. There was no peace and no hope in life. On the one hand, it was difficult to forgive my ex-boyfriend. On the other hand, I found myself recalling our moments together, although I knew some of them were not right in God’s sight. I was like the Israelites who, despite being delivered from slavery in Egypt, compared their new life with their old days. There was also a tussle in my heart: I wanted to pray, but every time I sought to come to God, I heard a voice telling me that I did not deserve to because I had hurt God with my disobedience.

Just as I was at my lowest point, my church encouraged us to allocate time for prayer and fasting for one week every month, over a year. The senior pastor encouraged every one of us to pray and fast, and to seek strength from God alone.

So, for the first time in my life, I decided to fast and set aside quality time with God. Previously, prayer was little more than a religious routine. When I did so, I immediately started to see how God had allowed these painful experiences to happen so that I could grow spiritually. He had saved me from a future that would not please Him, and was teaching me to love Him more than anything else and to forgive. I thank God that He never abandons His children. Meanwhile, Psalm 34:18, which says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”, exposed the lie that had stopped me from going back to God.

Month after month, I kept praying and fasting, and asking God for His strength, peace, and comfort. One gloomy afternoon, while I was praying, an indescribable joy came into my heart: I knew that while everything would not become better overnight, God was slowly restoring and renewing me.

Today, by the grace of God, I can say confidently that my identity is no longer defined by any relationship I have. Having a boyfriend does not make me a better or worse individual. My identity and my future is defined only by God, the Creator and the owner of my life. And while I occasionally feel doubt about my identity as a redeemed person, God’s Word wards off the devil’s attacks. I am reminded that Jesus died to redeem us from our sins so that we who believe in Him can have a new identity as God’s children (John 1:12; 1 Peter 2:9).

I hope that you too will be encouraged by this truth.

Just trying to find myself

Throughout life, we’re always on a quest to find ourselves. What makes us who we are? Which path will bring us a step closer to finding the answer? Why is identity so important to us? This month, we speak to different individuals and hear their stories–and struggles. Can you identify with any of these? Share with us what’s going on in your life.

Editor’s Picks: Top 3 Articles | Identity

Welcome to this brand-new section on Editor’s Picks.

Throughout the course of the year, we’ve received some extremely helpful and well-written pieces that we think will be a pity to not share with you again—especially if you missed them the first time. Join us as share with you our monthly picks; feel free to share with us your comments below.

This month, we explore and define what identity means in this age of the internet and social media. Here’s three fantastic pieces on social media and its effect on our identity that we genuinely think you’d benefit from.

Simply click on the titles, take your time and savor them.

  1. The Stage we Call Social Media

“All the world’s a stage; and all the men and women merely players.”—William Shakespeare. Social media is a stage—one where we act out the identities we wish people around us to see.

  1. Social Media Fuels Our Discontent?

Apparently, Facebook could make you feel discontented with your life. Researchers from two German universities surveyed 600 students regarding their feelings after using Facebook. More than one-third of the respondents feel worse after visiting friends’ pages. They cited predominantly negative feelings of anger, exhaustion, frustration, and irritation. Thirty percent considered envy as the main source for these feelings. So where does this feeling of envy come from?

  1. Wall Posts: What My Facebook Friends Do Not Know

A while ago, I was online chatting with an old college friend who suddenly sent me a message saying that I have “a beautiful life.” While I am truly grateful to the Lord for what He has blessed me with, and where He has brought me from, I was sincerely humbled by my friend’s compliment. His statement left me wondering: What made him say that my life is beautiful?