by Brittney Chan
“...thou art mine.”
They tell me that when you turn thirty, your health begins to change completely. Weight is harder to lose and your bones always hurt. Well, I’m not thirty…yet! (I still have a few days left to claim.) However...a couple of days ago, I spent a few hours helping my friends with heavy work as they demoed a house. The next morning, as I got up out of bed, still half drowsy from sleeping: I. Was. Aching. With one move, I could feel every swing of the sledgehammer from the day before. I put my hands on my knees and walked them upwards to help me stand in a fully erect position. Going through this motion immediately made me think of the countless times I’d seen my dad do the same thing after a long workday. “You really are Clyde Chan’s daughter, aren’t you?”
Yep. That’s me. My squinty brown eyes, lengthy legs, and abnormally large forehead all signify my membership to “The Chan Clan.” They mark me...they are physical qualities that help make up my individual identity. But you know what? You can know my dad, my mom, even my brothers. You can know my sister-in-law and extended family...you can go to the same church, live in the same city...and know all of these little details that contribute to who I am, but still not know the real me. Like, what do I really value? How do I really feel about social issues or what does my self-worth really look like? What are my dreams or ambitions?
I want to spend some time in this week’s article investigating our identities. Yes, I know I'm jumping on the hottest topic of our day, but rather than figuring out what you identify as, let's talk about how you came to your identity. It makes sense to me that your identity can depend on either inward or outward influences.
Inward influences equate to selfish desires. What do you want when it comes to a career, a partner, or a life? One of the loudest movements in today’s society is the one that tells you to be yourself! Don't get me wrong, I can get behind a good encouragement for authenticity. If inward initiative and responsibility were the things promoted within this train of thought, I’d be all on board! But interwoven amongst the push for genuine people, is this normalization of embracing our Adamic natures. Just roll with whatever comes naturally to us. You can be instinctively prone to have interests in things that don't contradict the Bible. However, investigating the desires of our “inner Adam’s” (or Eve’s) will often lead us down a troublesome road. When our hearts’ attractions clash with the principles written in the Word of God, we know our identity has been founded in the wrong place.
A lot of people look outside themselves in the search for who they are. Their time is engrossed in excelling in a sport or studying the trends of celebrities to figure out what defines them. This is even prevalent in our Christian world. People build their identities around the cultural norms of their church or their pastor’s personal convictions. Our identities can't be found in who another Christian man or woman portrays themself to be. We push and prepare our young women to step into the roles of “Wife” or “Mother”, but leave them feeling abandoned and unfulfilled when they don't find themselves in these roles. Spouses depend on their counterpart to satisfy their need for happiness, rather than finding their joy in the Lord, but then where is their identity found after being divorced or widowed? (Listen to Pentecast Podcast’s episode 66, if you want more on Joy vs. Happiness.) All of these scenarios expose a devilish dependency to find ourselves outside of Christ.
What does God have to say about our identity? I think, foremost, in matters of self-worth and value, it's important for you to hear Him say that you are chosen as His own (Isaiah 43:1), you are forever loved (Jeremiah 31:3), and you are enough (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Trusting in these promises will immediately challenge low self-esteem and depression. When you choose to identify as one of God's children, you are choosing to let go of a secular worldview, its values and thought patterns. You should have spiritual role models and wise counsel, but these relationships shouldn't produce another carbon-copy Christian. They should push you to God and be supportive of growing in Him. It becomes less about what comes natural to you and more about what pleases Him. Yes, you have God-ordained talents, abilities, and interests; but don’t be defined by those things. Rather, let them be tools in which you choose to glorify Him through the life you live. He comes first. Pursue a relationship with Him and choose to identify as His. Know Him; and let the world around you know Him before they know you.