Identity points to who we are as individuals. Whether it’s ethnic origin, occupation or academic performance, we each have something that shapes what we do and how we perceive ourselves. Personally, as a Christian and someone who believes that my identity comes from God, I’ve recently been challenged.
A couple of months ago, I went through mild anxiety with depression. After an amazing year of volunteering at church, I grew. When the time came for me to start a new job, I felt confident and excited. I finally had a writing job, and in came feelings of fulfilment. I’m embarrassed to say that my job made me feel more special than my identity as a precious child of God. This job revealed insecurities that I thought I had dealt with. Anxiety kicked in, because deep-down I felt inexperienced and afraid of people’s opinions. Criticism, constructive or otherwise, become personal. In the end, I quit my job for several reasons, and I do believe that I made the right decision. Did things get better? Not at all. More bad circumstances followed, and I began to doubt God and my identity. Most things became pointless, and I felt far from loved. I found it difficult to go to church because I couldn’t face the questions. I wasn’t my best self and I hated it. No one wants to be the depressed one especially when everyone else seems happy. But anxiety is not an indicator of weakness neither is sharing it for the benefit of others; it is an opportunity for us to rely on God’s strength and renew our mind with His word. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you see your experience as something that God can use for good (Romans 8:28), wonderful changes take place in your perspective of life and relationship with God. Through this experience, I know that God stripped away unhealthy thoughts which had turned into truths, and He’s still working within me.
I think it’s natural to search for who we are, to try and find our purpose, and to fit ourselves into a linear category. But what if all the things or people which we cling onto, shaping a seemingly secure identity, disappears? What if that relationship which made you fill complete ends? What if you lose the dream job which made you walk with unshakable confidence? What if no one sings your praises? Could you truly say that you know who you are without these things? If our identity is not rooted in Jesus, we will always seek something to fill the void in our soul.
Jobs, possessions, relationships: these are not bad things. But God wants us to understand that our identity goes far beyond the things on this earth. Everything on this earth will fade away. However, our identity in Christ will never change. My friends and family reminded me how important it is to remember this truth. We were made for a relationship with Christ, and it is only in knowing him that you will be satisfied and certain of who you are. A friend of mine told me that he spoke biblical phrases over himself during a season of mental health issues. One of the phrases was, ‘I am a loved child of God.’ Above everything else we are sons and daughters of Jesus, and He loves us. We’ve been etched into the palms of His hands. Our feelings towards God change; but His love never fells.
When you feel worthless, anxious or lost, remember that Jesus loves you so much that He went upon the cross and died for you. You are so treasured and wonderfully made that He couldn’t think of anything worse than being separated from you forever. I pray for peace of mind and a deep understanding of God’s love for you. Amen.
By Chermaine Sowah