The problem with our search for our identity is that it usually begins at the wrong place: ourselves.
It seems odd, doesn’t it? That we would search for ourselves outside of ourselves? You’re probably assuming one of two things:
1. If you look for your identity outside of yourself, you’ll end up being a fake version of yourself.
2. It is so opposite of what the world tells us that you’re skeptical
There are countless books, social media influencers, blogs, and magazines dedicated to you finding yourself. They all contain exercises, questions, goals, meditations, and prayers that keep you inward focused as you try to find your “true” self.
I’ve had many conversations with identity-confused teenage friends as they’re caught in a whirlwind of changes in friendships, interests, schools, decisions, relationships, families, etc. Struggling with our identities is completely normal and should never be avoided, but we need to look to the right place to find answers to our identity questions.
A mirror is not the right place.
(Aren’t you kind of glad about that, though? Maybe not yet? Let’s keep going).
If we truly want to understand who we are, we need to understand who created us. He chose every feature of our personality and every physical attribute. He created us for a reason that doesn’t need to take a lifetime to discover. You are not an accident or some scientific reaction with no meaning.
You were created with purpose, on purpose, for a purpose.
I’m not sure where you stand with God or what you believe, but I challenge you to set aside what you know and see something new about God for the first time. You may struggle with belief in God, but what you’re craving is to know your identity. To know you were created with purpose, on purpose, for a purpose. So I challenge you to tune in and see what happens. This may just be what you’ve been longing for.
There are a lot of ways we can describe God, but it is important that we know the truth about Him. If we get this wrong, we’re sure to get lost on the wrong path in our search for identity.
So, here are a few things about him that we need to get straight before we understand him and his creation of us:
God is Not a Human
“God is not a man, that he might lie, or a son of man, that he might change his mind” (Numbers 23:19, CSB).
I’m not sure if you have been explicitly taught that God is a human, but many of us grow up believing God is a man with a beating heart and a brain, just like us. But God is not human. God is God. We often misunderstand the character of God because we’ve always consciously or sub-consciously thought of him in a human way.
We cannot take what we understand about people and use that to help us understand God. This is difficult to do because we understand things based on what we already know. When we hear that God is loving, we look at how the world portrays love and then assume that’s what God is like. Then we get confused when bad things happen because love is supposed to protect from bad things, right?
If we hear that God can be angry, we think of a stern or aggressive father and the way he displays his anger. We’re afraid of God or eventually find it a lot easier to just not believe.
When we hear that God is always there, but we don’t see him or feel him like we would if a human was always there, we assume he can’t be real. He must be far away.
But to understand God, we need to be ready to lay aside what we know to get to know the real God.
God is Holy
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord; the whole earth is filled with his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3, CSB).
Holy is a word that is tough to define for us because it can only be used to describe God (for now). Holy means sacred, divine, set apart, pure, perfect, or good. When we hear these words, especially “perfect,” we tend to think the wrong things.
We may picture someone who has a perfectly chisled body, is intelligent, has a #goals worthy relationship, and seems to have it all together. But our definition of holy cannot be determined by our picture of perfection. Our picture of perfection is most likely very wrong. Holiness is something else entirely and the more we get to know God, the more we understand this holiness. It’s a holiness that leaves us in awe of God—speechless and amazed.
God is the Creator
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. . . So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female” (Genesis 1:1,27, CSB).
God is the Creator. And while we also create because we are made in his image, we do not have the ability to create something out of nothing. Any scientist could tell you that. And yet, God created everything in existence out of nothing. Oh, and he did so by speaking it into existence.
Have you ever spoken anything into being? No! Wouldn’t that be a nice little skill, though? If you take the time to read the entire creation account in Genesis 1, you will see marvelous works of creation.
God measured out the sea to perfection and filled it with water. He determined how plants would produce fruit. He decided how each part of our bodies would work together perfectly.
He created it all—down to the tiniest atom and up to the farthest away galaxy.
God is in Charge
Since God Created everything to work in a specific and perfect way, He is in charge of it all. He decides how things work. He has the power.
“He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15b, CSB).
And while some of us may feel oppressed by the thought of God having all of the power and authority, we don’t have to feel squashed. Why? Because God will always do what is best for us—even if it doesn’t make sense.
Many of us picture God more as a power-hungry police officer or an arrogant and distant king. We feel like God doesn’t interact with us except to smite us when we’ve done something wrong. He must be waiting in the wings for us to break a rule.
While I will not spend too much time just yet debunking this lie about God, I do want to say that we have God’s character all wrong if that’s what we think of him.
It is a very, very good thing for God to be in complete control, reigning over all of creation. He knows all and sees all and has no limitations in his rule. He rules in love and orchestrates all things to be for our good and his glory.
We must trust that we are like two year olds to God. Would you ever allow a two year old to decide what to wear, what to eat, and what to do with his life? No! He wouldn’t have enough wisdom to make decisions that weren’t utterly destructive and dangerous. No matter how much a toddler may insist that he be in control, we know that should never be the case.
We are in the same position with God.
We may insist that we need to be in control, that we know what is best for our lives, that we know what we need, but we are simply a two year old trying to convince our parent that candy bars are in fact a nutritious meal.
As much as we might hate authority, what we need to realize is that it is freeing to not have to control every aspect of our lives. It’s not all up to you. You don’t have to have it all figured out and make all the right decisions. You did not create this world and you do not know what is best for yourself or others.
Thank goodness we’re not in control.
God is Love
“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him” (1 John 4:16, CSB).
I saved this for last because it can be kind of intimidating to hear all of the other truths about God. It can make him feel distant and disconnected as we think about a God who has all the power, created everything, is not a person, and is holy.
But his love is extravagant. God’s love is incredibly gentle and patient and gracious and forgiving. His love accomplishes more than we can fathom. And he always operates out of love.
So, if God is all of these things, then to find who we are and what our purpose is, we need to look at God, who created us on purpose, with purpose and for a purpose. We need to look at his work and see why he created us and how we fit into his bigger picture. To understand ourselves, we must start by seeking God and understanding him.
The last reason why we need to start with getting to know God before we get to know our identity is that God is always consistent and never changing. Unlike what culture tells us, our identity is also consistent and never-changing because our identity comes from a God who is just that. Sure, parts of us are guaranteed to change over time, but our identity—the very core of who we are—will never change.
So, we know some things about God, but how do we really get to know him as the Creator he is? Maybe you feel far from God or skeptical of God’s existence, so you’re hesitant to move forward with this identity journey. That’s ok. What I’ve shared about God barely scratches the surface. But I can say that you are free to bring your doubts, fears, insecurities, and questions. They’re welcome here. You’re not alone and God isn’t surprised or angry.
And the good news is, we don’t have to wonder how we can get to know God. It doesn’t have to be a futile pursuit. Our Creator makes himself known to us because he loves us deeply.
Next week we’ll look at how we can get to know God and how this helps us get to know our identity.
Click here to head to part 2 of “Live Free.”