There have been many milestones in my life that have left me questioning who I am. The first one I can recollect is when I graduated from high school. Everything in my life until that point had been about study: I identified as a “student”, the clothes I most often wore were my school uniform, my years were scheduled according to school terms and holiday breaks, and my friends were the people who I spent five days of the week with. When I no longer had this foundation as the base of my identity, it felt like I completely lost who I was.
Since this first earth-shattering moment I have faced other major life milestones (aka identity crises) that shook my understanding of myself. Things like graduating from tertiary education; getting married, resulting in a change to my name and “family unit”; moving overseas and taking on the title of “foreigner/expat”; hitting a new decade of life; and most recently, becoming a mother (which has been a whole other level of identity-shaking crisis).
Maybe you have also faced your own identity shake-ups. We can base who we are on so many things that aren’t permanent like career, job title, physical appearance, wealth, status or achieving success at something. When a life event changes everything we have understood ourselves to be, it can leave us on shaky ground. We might feel sad as we miss our old identity and the familiar comfort of knowing who we are and what we have to do. As time passes we begin to build a new identity, establishing a comfortable place of understanding who we are in our current circumstances . . . Until something else comes along and shakes it all up again.
If, like me, you’re feeling a little mellow about all of this, let’s bring a different perspective into the situation. We know God to be unchanging, “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and dependable, “He is a reliable God” (Deuteronomy 32:4). In 1 Peter 2:10 it says, “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people.” We can establish that first and foremost our core identity, who we are as a person, is locked and unchanging no matter what life circumstances come our way. We are God’s people. Even more so than this, we are God’s children, always and forever. “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). As things in life change, this identity as a much-loved child of God, will not.
The Bible also says that we are members of God’s family (Ephesians 2:19), friends of Jesus (John 15:15), justified and redeemed (Romans 3:24), an heir as God’s child (Galatians 4:7), a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20), and loved, chosen, holy and without fault (Ephesians 1:4). Which is only just a few of the things the Bible says we are.
If you’re more of an auditory learner, there are a few songs that you should give a listen. “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music is a powerful declaration of freedom from fear and knowing who you are as a child of God, and “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship which emphasises our importance to God as His children, while others might enjoy the hymn “A child of the King”.
I must be honest; I write this from a place of needing a reminder for myself of who I am. I still lose myself and need reassurance that who I am is found in God; everything else is fluid.
As you meet the changing seasons of life where you start to question who you are or what your purpose is, remember that your core identity is set in God. Through Jesus we have become God’s people, with belonging and purpose in Him. Our shared destiny is with Him in eternity. You are a child of God, and you can face the changes to come focusing on this truth. Build who you are on who God says you are—He is your identity.