Who Am I? The Search For Identity
Who am I? This question is one for the ages. Our search for identity begins the moment we are born. Throughout our lifetime, this question will be answered in a number of ways. Who am I? I am the baby who is cared for by that mother and those people. Who am I? I’m the child abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Who am I? I’m a student who gets good or bad grades. Who am I? Employee. Daughter of … mother of … wife of … ex-wife … discarded partner.
Identity at times can feel like many hats worn over the period of a lifetime. Our identity can seem to change with our circumstances when we base our definition of self on the external. The search for identity can quickly become a weapon in the hands of the enemy.
It becomes infinitely more difficult to remember or believe what God says about you.
Why It Is Important To Know Who You Are
The idea of self pervades every aspect of our being. Our identity will affect the way we speak, behave, walk, and think. It will impact our choices and the friends we keep. It will be part of our decision-making process. For example, a person who thinks they are stupid will not aspire to certain things like going to a particular college or applying for certain jobs.
Our identity can even impact the way we walk. If you were to stand in a busy place and watch people walk by, you’d have a pretty good idea of how they think about themselves – at least, at that moment. A woman who is feeling beautiful and powerful walks with her head up and her shoulders back. She may even have a slight smile on her face. A woman who feels unattractive and frumpy will walk less boldly. She may slump her shoulders or hang her head. Her main focus is to get to where she wants to go without anyone seeing her.Our identity can affect many things including the way we walk and the jobs we apply for. #searchforidentity #hebrews12endurance #identityinChrist Click To Tweet
How The World Answers “Who am I?”
If I were to ask you if you thought you were beautiful, your answer would be based on a number of things. Things like your level of self-esteem, nationality, ethnicity and maybe even your socioeconomic situation. If we were to go back in time in fifty-year increments, the answer would keep changing. That’s because the world’s standard of beauty changes as quickly as those who make the standards do. Beauty also varies by culture and society.
How you think about yourself is also in part determined by how your family treated you and what they taught you about yourself. Even greater than what they taught, is what you learned. As a parent, I have come to realize that what I say is not always what my son hears, and what I try to teach is not always what he learns.
Therein lies the danger of basing our identity on what the world says. Do you really want to base your self-identity on something so transient?
The search for identity may cause you to wonder if you truly know yourself. You may find yourself asking questions like:
- Why am I here?
- What’s my purpose?
- What do I want to accomplish?
You may also find yourself experimenting with different things (some of which can be dangerous) all in a valiant effort to figure out who you are.
How You Figure Out Who You Are
If you were to google know yourself questions, you’d be overwhelmed by the number of responses you received. As you culled through the results, you would notice that in order to figure out who you are, most people suggest introspection. In other words, you have to look inside yourself to figure out who you are. You’d be asked to answer questions like:
- What are your dreams?
- What are your core values?
- What’s your personality?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What are your long-term and short-term goals?
As you search for your identity, you are encouraged to spend more time with yourself trying to figure out why you do the things you do.
The problem with this approach is, what happens when I find something about myself that I don’t like? The typical answer is there are two options:
- Change it, or
- Learn to live with it
But then this brings us back to the original problem. Our identity would be in a constant state of flux as we try to work out who we are based on external stimuli. Every time we find something we don’t like about ourselves, we would have to begin the process of trying to change it. And on and on we go. The cycle would quickly become exhausting. Not to mention confusing.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe we should always be evaluating ourselves to see how we’re doing. We’re put on this earth for a purpose and as part of accomplishing our purpose, we will go through periods of change and growth.We should evaluate the things in our past to see how we can grow from them. But self-evaluation is not the way to figure out who we are. #searchforidentity #hebrews12endurance #identityinChrist Click To Tweet
We should evaluate the things in our past to see how we can grow from them. But self-evaluation is not the way to figure out who we are. I know, I’ve confused you – the tagline for this website is “Know God. Know yourself. Run your race.” So how can I then say that self-examination is not the key to discovering our identity? That’s because knowing ourselves begin with knowing God.
Comparing ourselves to what’s changeable leads to error and a constant state of flux, but comparing ourselves to God? When we do that, we measure ourselves against someone who will never change.
The Key to Your Search for Identity
Our search for identity has a better chance of uncovering the truth if we were to ask the question “Who is God?” instead of “Who am I?” True knowledge of self is impossible unless we first learn more about our Heavenly Father.
1. We are created beings. Whether we admit it or not, God created us to be recipients of the overflow of His love. We are made in His image and so if we want to know who we are, we first need to understand who we were created to be and for what purpose.
This YouTube video goes into more detail about why we were created.
When we understand why God made us, we are better able to answer the “who am I” question.
2. God knows us. The problem with searching for our identity in the world is that we’re going to be offered generic responses. Because these theories of self-identity are developed by fallible human beings, you’ll find that they have a kind of one size fits all feel. These theories about self-identity also seem to go through a makeover every few years leaving us with a number of theories that point us in different directions.
Wouldn’t you rather go to Someone who knows everything there is to know about you?
Suppose you had lost your memory and wanted to know about your childhood … would you ask Google or a random person on the street? Or would you ask your parents and family members – people who actually knew you when you were younger? When we go to God with our “who am I” questions, the answers are tailor-made – unique answers for unique people. Not going to God in our search for identity, is like not using the owners’ manual for a new device. We are basically winging it.
3. God never changes and neither does His standards. Remember how I said it would be difficult to base our identity on something that is always changing? Well, that doesn’t happen with God. He never changes. The standards God had at creation, are the same standards He had before the world began and they are the same standards He has now. Wouldn’t you rather base your identity on Someone who never changes? I would.
4. God is perfect. Another great thing about basing our identity on God is the fact He is perfect. While it might be nice to emulate this person or other, we are all fallible beings and that means we make mistakes. We don’t always do things that align with our core values. We disappoint each other. Only when we are able to compare ourselves to a Perfect Being do we truly have a standard we can aspire to.
I have lived long enough (says the woman with less than four decades under her belt) to see a number of persons whom I have admired prove themselves to be human. And, I was disappointed. As I get older, I’m more forgiving, but I remember as a teenager I was shattered when persons I looked up to behaved in ways I thought was out of character for them. But with God, that never happens. Not only does God behave in a consistent manner, but He also gave us a book that details how He will behave in every situation. If we only we would take the time to read and study the Bible.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Over the next couple of weeks, we are going on a journey of self-discovery. We are going to make a serious attempt to learn more about our identities. We begin by looking at Christ. No true quest for identity can be completed without first looking at God. I hope you will join me along this journey. My prayer is that at the end of this mini-series we will a concrete sense of self and will be able to boldly answer the question “Who am I?”
In the meantime, spend some time pondering these questions, and then come back next week prepared to delve into the quest to find your identity.
- Why do think you were created?
- How have you fulfilled your purpose to this point?
- What do you think needs to be done to embrace your true self (as identified in the questions above)?
- What’s your greatest accomplishment?
- What’s your biggest failure?
If you want more self-discovery questions, check out these articles:
- How to Get to Know Yourself: 29 Questions to Self-Discovery
- 33 Important Questions That Determine How Well You Really Know Yourself
- 50 Questions to Get to Know Yourself Better
So, what do you think is the best way to answer the question “Who am I?” Share them with me in the comments below. Click this link for a free downloadable workbook with questions to begin your search for identity as you journey towards self-discovery.Do you know who you are? The search for identity should bring us into a closer knowledge of who God is. #searchforidentity #hebrews12endurance #identityinChrist Click To Tweet
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