On Twitter, (in April 2016) New York City Pastor Tim Keller was asked: “What are the false gods of our society?” Part of his reply was– “the myth that you can choose your own identity.”
He is absolutely right. Sister, this is the one of the great lies of our age:
“you get to pick who you’ll be and no one else has any right to say anything different. You set the standard for who you are and other people need to celebrate and affirm and circle around you and your self-chosen identity.”~Tim Keller
We see it in the way culture focuses on gender-identity and sexual-identity. This should give us a clue: IDENTITY REALLY IS A BIG DEAL. Who you believe you are makes a massive difference– in how you behave, the choices you make, your priorities, and more.
What we believe about our identity today, shapes who we become tomorrow.
I read about a person they call, “The Dragon Lady:”
“the 55-year-old has undergone a number of painful procedures over the past few years including nose modification, tooth extraction and eye colouring. She also has a forked tongue and a full-face tattoo as part of her transformation into a ‘mythical beast’.
We might laugh at this, shake our heads, or feel pity, disgust, or sadness… but the truth is this:
All of us are prone toward identity idolatry.
It is very likely that this so-called “Dragon-Lady” is actually asking deep questions of the heart–
- Can I be something special and noteworthy?
- Will people love me even if?
- If I choose something off-beat or unknown, will people still celebrate me and my choices?
And I want to talk about heart questions like that. One of the ways I think this happens in our lives as non-Dragon-Lady women is that we ask new questions as we enter each stage of our lives as women.
We may identify ourselves with various roles and titles.
And beyond whatever we say or do on the outside, deep in our hearts, there are questions that seek answers we relate to our value:
- In girlhood, we ask- “Am I worthy of being loved? Am I worth protecting? Will someone be my friend?”
- In our teenage years, we ask- “Am I pretty? Will someone love me romantically? And pursue me?”
- As a young woman, and as we enter our careers, we ask- “Do I have things to offer? Am I valuable? Is my womanhood something I can embrace? Can I be equal to her/him/that role/that challenge?”
- If we become a wife, our hearts ask questions like- “Will you complete me? Will this be the love I’ve hoped and dreamed of? Will you celebrate my beauty and value and love me in all the ways I want to be loved?”
- If we become a mother, our hearts may ask questions like- “Please– will you be my trophy child? Grow up to be amazing, so it proves to the world that my labor, sleepless nights, sacrifices, and special efforts were worth it?”
- As we age, we ask- “Can I stay beautiful, even as my body gives in to gravity? Will there be anything with my name on it- a hospital wing, a scholarship fund, a grandchild, a book? Can I do something lasting and meaningful with my life? Am I going to be alone in the end? Will anyone love me?”
We probably all have asked at least some of these questions.
In each stage, women want a meaningful identity, and we want to have value.
But I hope you can already see:
If it becomes the central part of how we think about ourselves, each role of our lives as women ultimately sets us up for –not possible– but a CERTAIN downfall.
NONE of these seasons of our lives are meant to be a firm foundation for identity.
Beauty fades. Bodies sag. Jobs get downsized. Husbands and children all sin, will disappoint us, and ultimately die. Even if people notice us and our talents or beauty, we can chase and chase and chase, and will eventually realize, THIS DOES NOT BRING HAPPINESS.
Our hearts whisper the truth our mouths– and even our souls– may not be strong enough to speak:
“this CAN’T be what I was made for.”
If we base our identity on roles, appearance, seasons, and abilities, we will fall– it’s not “IF” it’s “WHEN.”
And as His children, God loves us too much to let us derive our value and identity from anything other than HIM.
- Have you ever wondered WHY God has let certain parts of your life fall apart?
- Have you experienced the hurt that comes from painful, wounded relationships?
- Have you wondered why your failures– or your family’s failures– get exposed?
- Does it feel like the rug keeps getting pulled out from under you?
Ultimately, God is teaching us that nothing else will satisfy.
He wants us to turn away from identity idolatry– with ourselves at the center– and instead seek Him, and find our true identity in Him.
The truth is this: when we set up this desire to be worshipped and receive glory for our appearance, sacrifices, or talents, we are actually setting up an idol in our heart.
Sister, God loves you too much to let you center your identity on you.
The most significant distinction about you is not:
- Male or female?
- What do you do for work?
- Married or single?
- Mother or not? (Nor its corollary: # of kids?)
- Skinny or plump?
- Public, private, or home-schooling family?
No. The most significant issue is one God speaks to us in Jeremiah 9:
“Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.”
The thing that really defines all of us is this: Do you know and understand God? Are you His CHILD? Are you hidden IN CHRIST?
(As a sidenote, if you are not sure, I’d love to share with you what it means to be “in Christ.” If you are a believer but you don’t understand what it means to be in Christ, you might take time to read and study the book of Colossians. It’s a great place for understanding who we are in Christ, and how He makes us new.)
Part 2 soon.
Grace and Peace,