One thing that led me to begin Tuesday Truth was how often I saw Christians post, share, etc. phrases/ideas that aren’t biblical. This burdened me so badly. Many of these phrases/ideas center on our identities, and society often encourages us to “find ourselves.” Today, Christi gives discusses identities with a Scripture-lens.
By: Christi Beem
When was the last time you heard or read something along these lines?
- “I don’t even know who I am anymore.”
- “You owe it to yourself to become everything you have ever dreamed of being.”
- “I need to take some time alone to find myself.”
My guess is about five minutes ago. They may seem harmless, but ideas such as these are based on a false philosophy that pervades our culture. Let’s take a look at this faulty foundation and consider what we should replace it with as we ask…
Is my identity found inside myself?
This false premise has brewed in our evolving philosophies for hundreds of years. It is behind all manner of issues plaguing our culture today: euthanasia, abortion, divorce, and the list goes on. But it also creeps into our own hearts as Christians in more subtle ways.
When I was in high school, I had a charm bracelet. I tried my best to have the bracelet represent who I was, with charms for places I’d traveled and activities I enjoyed. Of course, the bracelet included a cross charm – since I love Jesus.
Our tendency is to think we can create ourselves in this same way, as if we can add and remove things from our essential selves to construct the perfect social-media-worthy bio: “Loves Jesus and coffee. Mom to three under three and wife to a godly man. Enjoys knitting, running, and traveling.” Yet even with all our efforts to make something of ourselves, we somehow know there must be something more to the question: “Who am I?”
To answer that age-old question, you do not need to go discover yourself. Yes, you can seek to have a right understanding of yourself. However, that knowledge should never be an end in itself, but rather a tool in the pursuit of a much larger goal.
Think about all the problems that arise when finding your true essential self becomes the goal. What if you accidentally misstep on the path to your true self? What if your dreams change? What if your “true self” was a painter but a tragic accident leaves you blind? Are you less yourself? Less of a person? What about those who don’t have the capacity to “make something of themselves”? If your essence – what makes you, you – lies in your own choices, anything that removes those choices from you becomes the enemy. It is not our natural inclination to choose obedience to something outside of ourselves.
But by the grace of God, we who are in Christ are changed. We can say with the apostle Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
Jesus is not just another charm to add to your bracelet. He’s the creator and owner of the bracelet. Don’t be fooled, ladies. Just because something is beautifully hand-lettered in a nice color palette and posted on Instagram doesn’t make it true. We can’t just “let Jesus take the wheel” or “let go and let God,” as if God needs our permission to run the universe.
Yet, we have value. Why? Value was given to us because we were created by God. Genesis 1:27 reminds us “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” You are not self-made. You can’t “charm-bracelet” yourself into becoming any more YOU than God already made you!
When you are tempted to curate your “true self,” you have a choice. Will you deny yourself and follow Jesus (see Luke 9:23-25)? If God is the Potter (and a good and trustworthy one at that), He and only He has the absolute authority to determine the purpose of the vessels He has created (see Romans 9:20-21). Will you honor the creator or yourself? That may sound harsh, but let this Truth be freeing! There is no need to do the work of figuring out who you are or who you will become.
In her book You Who: Why You Matter & How to Deal With It, Rachel Jankovic points out, “If I am so obligated to believe in myself, then I ought to figure out who that is.” But what if I don’t like what I find? Then I need to work really hard to “make something of myself”? No! To my relief, it’s God’s job to determine who I am. That burden need not rest on my weary shoulders!
A word picture helps illustrate this idea. Imagine that God is the sun. We are like the moon. In the words of Scott Hubbard, we are “cold and barren on our own, but aflame with light when we come near the sun.” Now imagine how absurd it would be if the moon decided to float away into space trying to “find itself.” No, the moon shines only insofar as it reflects the sun. Similarly, you are most yourself when you are losing yourself to more fully reflect the Son. Want to be your truest self? Take up your cross. Seek God’s face. Obey Him.
“But wait,” you might say. “Won’t that be boring? Like a bunch of ants marching in formation?” But God never requires us to check our personalities at the door. There is no need to fear that “deny yourself” is synonymous with “become boring.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Your small obediences are not insignificant! God has made us diverse and unique for His glory. When what you do is done obediently and for the glory of God, it becomes significant.
Think of George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, or Corrie Ten Boom. Think of that older woman at your church who radiates Christ. This cloud of witness (Hebrews 12:1) is far from boring, and it is an honor to be among them. Nobody reads The Hiding Place and comes away from it thinking, “Well, Corrie Ten Boom sure makes following Christ seem boring!”
Rachel Jankovic unequivocally challenges us: “Stop trying to be true to yourselves, people! Hell is full of the true-to-self crowd! Be true to Christ! Let it all go! You are in good hands! It is far sweeter, more fun, and more interesting to die in Christ than to live to self.” You’re in good hands, friends: the Hands of the Potter. Want to find yourself? Seek Him. Believe in Him. Be true to Him. This is not a burden; it is freedom. Run to Jesus. You are His beloved and you have value because He says so. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
For further reading: Hebrews 12:1-17; Philippians 1:18-30; Romans 8; Isaiah 40; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Job 38-42; Luke 9: 23-25 ; Ephesians 5:1-2; Romans 9:19-21; Galatians 2:20
- You Who – book by Rachel Jankovic
- You Are Not You Without Him – article by Scott Hubbard from Desiring God
- The Freeing Reality That You Are Not Enough – Crossway podcast featuring Jen Wilkin
- When We’re Not the Woman We Were Before Motherhood – article by Amelia Rana from Risen Motherhood
- For Weary Women in a World of Opportunity – article by Jen Oshman from Desiring God
Meet Christi: Christi Beem is a wife, homemaker, and mom to three young children who keep life interesting. She’s also a writer and graphic designer and comes alongside her husband in leading a small group at their church in Wisconsin. Get to know her better, follow her on Instagram, or check out her Etsy shop.