One of the most basic questions that we all ask is, “Who am I?” This question is usually followed by another question that goes something like this, “Do I matter?” Everyone wants and needs to feel valued and accepted. We have an innate desire to know that who we are and what we do counts for something or someone bigger than ourselves. And so we do, strive, work to become someone who contributes something to someone.
We want to matter. I wanted to matter.
For much of my life I struggled to believe I had worth and value, and hid my struggle really well. I had loving parents, but often felt as though I couldn’t measure up. And so my identity became deeply rooted in a desire to perform and please. I needed that “A” in EVERY subject. I needed to be the captain of the basketball team and the president of the club. I needed to be the Resident Assistant in my dorm and the leader of the Youth for Christ intern team. It was more than using gifts and abilities, I needed to lead and to achieve because I placed my identity in my achievements. Graciously, God still used the talents He had given me and, graciously, He kept prompting me to face my own false thinking.
The more He prompted me, the more I became aware of the false identity I had created. I realized that I was living out of a false sense of self and that I believed the lie that God loved me more when I was good, successful, serving, and “put together.”
My first real step toward a true understanding of identity was when I truly believed that I was loved no matter what I did or didn’t do. As I surrendered my need for approval and accepted that I already had God’s approval, I began to see myself differently. I began to believe that who I was could best be explained by seeing myself through God’s eyes, and I began to live from a deep sense of wholeness. God began to integrate every part of me into one complete person. I accepted His identity for me. I am His beloved daughter, no matter what.
Identity does matter. The Creator of the universe desires to be our Father and give us our identity which is far greater than any identity I can create on my own. Will you give Him permission to “poke and prod” at your thoughts and beliefs? Will you then allow Him to transform and change your very identity? You are a new person in Christ; live that way!
Deb Hinkel is the Director of Spiritual Formation and Family Ministry at Hershey Free Church. She joined the church’s staff in 2015 after spending fourteen years as an assistant professor in the Church and Ministry Leadership department at Lancaster Bible College. Deb holds a Master of Arts degree in Ministry from Lancaster Bible College; and prior to her work there, she spent fifteen years in church ministry, developing programs in Christian education, children’s ministry, and women’s ministry.