I need help resolving my identity crisis.
Are you having an identity crisis? Maybe you lost your job. Maybe your spouse walked out on you. Perhaps everything you rely on is unstable. Are you confused about who you are? Are you seeking direction about what to do next? Perhaps you are asking: “How can I regain my security?” “Am I significant?” “Am I loveable?” How will you resolve your identity crisis?
I need someone to tell me who I am.
Perhaps you can recall a little of the turmoil that invaded your teenage years. Engulfed in a multiplicity of struggles, we floundered to establish our identity. We grappled with various fundamental philosophical questions that have plagued human existence: Who am I? Am I lovable? Where am I going? Because I was created to be dependent, I need someone to tell me who I am. I want someone to label me as lovable. I require someone to guide me. Whomever or whatever I allow to validate these issues establishes my identity. The defining force of my life becomes my god. Daily I choose to be desperately dependent on God or a God substitute.
Who Am I?
Humankind was created as a harmonious being. Therefore, we connected in unity with all exactly as God designed.
Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!Genesis 1:31 NLT
But when Adam and Eve decided God’s design was not adequate, humanity was propelled into a continuous search for completion. We are searching for what was lost—our identity.
Identity is fundamental to all humans, and our names are foundational to our identity. It is usual to have at least an assumed surname at birth. Then comes the arduous undertaking of determining a baby’s unique name. This vital task involves considerable energy, as all possible options and combinations are explored until the parents choose the appropriate designation fitting and worthy of someone so special. Authors struggle when naming their characters as they contemplate the characters’ individuality, including where they come from and their role in the story. To enhance the unique identity of our names, we add designations that indicate relationships, accomplishments, and status, such as Mr., Mrs., Rev., Dr., Lt., Col., etc. Authority belongs to those who confer names, and names indicate the significance of what they describe.
I’m in crisis. Who can I depend on to establish my identity?
I (Kirk) remember my first traumatic encounter with my name. By the time I was four years old, I had enough social interaction with my extended family to know I was not accepted as their equal. One day I stood by the window of our tiny house, crying. Over and over I said, “I hate my name. I hate my name. I hate my name.” Concerned by my actions, Mama asked, “Kirk, what’s the matter?” Then I looked at her and then back out the window. “I hate my name. Why did you name me Kirk? Why couldn’t you have given me a good name—a name starting with R like Ronnie, Randy, or Mark? Then everyone would like me.”
At this early age, I assumed my cousins did not accept me as their equal because of my name, who I was. This was my simple way of expressing my belief that something was wrong with me. My name must be ugly. That had to be the explanation. Their rejection must be about who I am. Somehow I needed to resolve my identity crisis.
My mother wanted to name me Kirk because she was enamored with Kirk Douglas, the movie star. But Dad protested and asserted that I would be named after him; thus, John. Mama, in her countermove, proclaimed, “His first name will be John, and his middle name will be Kirk.” As Dad yielded, Mom added this caveat, emphatically announcing, “But he will be called Kirk.” Despite the confusion and conflict between my parents, I am astounded that my name perfectly parallels God’s call on my life. John, meaning sent by God, and Kirk meaning church dweller. Amid the domestic chaos, God’s sovereign love was at work, continuously attesting, “I love you, and I have a plan for you.”
God defines who I am.
Names incorporate major significance in Scripture. For example, the very first name recorded in the Bible is God. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Here God is translated from the Hebrew ’elohim. This name of supremacy expresses who God is, His identity. The name Adam is translated from the Hebrew word for man. Hence, Adam being the first man, is simply called man, depicting who he was. Throughout the Old Testament, we encounter names specifically revealing something about a person: Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob.
But names such as Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob not only incorporate their character; God named and renamed individuals to reflect His purpose in their lives. We find God assigning names directly to people, as in the case of John and Jesus, or renaming them while commissioning them to a ministry, as in Peter and Paul. God also uses names to declare purpose, designate plight, or delimit position, as in the names of the prophets.
All things were created by him and for him.Colossians 1:16 NIV
To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.John 1:12 NLT
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!1 John 3:1 NLT
I must see myself as God sees me to resolve my identity crisis.
Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.1 John 3:7–10 NLT
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.1 John 5:1–5 NLT
We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.1 John 5:18–19 NLT
I must be dependent on God to establish my identity.
The very essence of our identity is interwoven with God Himself. Because God created us, we exist for Him. He desires to adopt us as His children so that He can name us. Why, then, would we not naturally yearn for Him? The innate desire to be connected with God has been perverted by Satan, subverting our search for Him. Instead, we crave for people, positions, and possessions to validate our identity when God has already supplied the needed essentials of love, significance, and security. But He wants to resolve our identity crisis.
God wants us to be complete in the person of Christ, the position of His child, and the possession of His righteousness. His love tells us, “You are valued.” As His children, we have significance that states, “You have purpose.” Because of His righteousness, we have security that declares, “You are safe.” The quest proceeds with hopes of fulfillment, satisfaction, and completion so we may experience joy and peace. Our identity is bestowed upon us when we choose to embrace truth or succumb to the lies.
Am I Lovable?
A continual skirmish rages as a diversity of options vie for the lofted position of determining who we are perceived to be. How can I resolve this identity crisis? Who or what will dictate whether we are loved, significant, or secure? Who will verify that we are cared for? What position will confirm us as valuable? What possession will identify us as worthy?
Every person possesses within their heart a completion scenario that delimits what would produce the ultimate fulfillment and satisfaction. In other words, this experience would represent the greatest encounter in life. Beyond this, nothing could be better. Our completion scenario is created out of a synthesis of our orientation to God, what we value, and what we think and feel. This completion scenario motivates desire and gives direction to our behavioral pursuits that are reinforced through immediate gratification. Therefore, it is here within our very own version of our completion scenario that we seek to be validated by our God substitutes.
A resolved identity crisis results in peace and joy.
When we choose to place Christ in His rightful position in our lives, peace and joy begin to permeate as the resident norm. Life now is a continuous process of experiencing Jesus relevantly to our lives—exploring how He is relevant to every new challenge of our souls. We find ourselves compelled to share with each struggling person that which we have found: Jesus loves you, and that makes the difference. This testimony is now the proclamation of a grateful heart that has been touched by the healing love of Jesus Christ. Some may argue with what you believe to be true, but only a fool would seek to criticize the truth you have experienced. Your peace and joy are the proof of a changed life.
However, there is a carnal obstacle to be removed: an individual will not accept validation from a source they do not value. Many individuals are unwilling to be fulfilled by Jesus’ love and be satisfied with Him personally, simply because they do not value Him. They would rather possess the sensual pleasures produced by this world than experience spiritual intimacy with Jesus Christ.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”Matthew 23:37 NLT
When God establishes my identity, I can rest.
When we allow God to occupy His designated place in our lives, we can experience a precious rest of sweet harmony. Although we must navigate the maze of earthly living, our minds live in the amazement of heavenly dwelling, for we are experiencing what He desires for us. Though here, we live there.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.Colossians 3:1–3 NLT
We join the ranks of the walking dead, as dead to things earthly but very alive to things heavenly. Carnal potential is given up for spiritual promise. We now see our lives as belonging to Jesus exclusively.
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”John 6:67–68 NLT
Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?Psalm 39:7 NLT
My only hope is in you.
Crisis resolved. I can be identified as a child of God.
The scared crisis brings us to the point we need to be. Recognizing Christ as our only source of abundant living establishes a desperate dependency on Him. He alone supplies unlimited love because He is love. Nothing can offer greater significance than the identity as a child of God. No other position is more secure than in God’s care, where He states, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT).
Living with divine enablement for personal empowerment attains ultimate fulfillment. God alone can resolve my identity crisis.
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.1 John 5:21 NLT
That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.Ecclesiastes 12:13 NLT
For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.1 Corinthians 4:20 NLT
Psalm 111 Prayer Pattern of Gratitude
Psalm 111 Prayer Pattern expresses gratitude for the faithfulness of God. Aren’t you grateful that you can resolve your identity crisis by finding Christ relevant? Don’t you overflow with joy when God is in His rightful place in your life? Use Psalm 111 Prayer Pattern of Gratitude to rejoice in God’s faithfulness when you are choosing to be desperately dependent.
- Who am I?
- I am lovable because:
- What might take God’s place in my heart?
- Will I choose to be desperately dependent on God?
- Where am I going?
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Excerpts from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis.
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Read more about Desperate Dependency: Finding Christ Relevant to Every Area of Life.
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