Who are you and what is your purpose? It is a question that we ask ourselves often. It is something that has been studied and sought after by humans for centuries. Great minds such as Plato, Aristotle, and Kant, have searched the earth to discover new things and what the purpose of the human race is. Some have succeeded, while others have never come up with a satisfactory answer. Some hope to find the meaning of who they are through attaining knowledge, some by becoming famous and being remembered by the generations to come, some by procreating to leave a legacy, and some by just doing whatever makes them happy in that moment.
If I asked you to describe yourself in 10 words what would they be? What are the first attributes that come to your mind? Are they physical attributes like pretty, ugly, tall, short, thin, fat, blonde, athletic, tan, pale or how old you are? Are they character attributes like kind, mean, honest, trustworthy, undependable, dishonest, hard-working, or lazy? What about relational attributes like sister, brother, mother, son, aunt, niece, friend, husband, or co-worker? Or do you describe yourself by your occupation such as nurse, teacher, farmer, stay at home mom, waiter, valet, or janitor? I challenge you to come up with a list of who you think you are. Don’t cheat and ask someone else how they would describe you! Just jot down the first 5-10 words that come to your mind when you think of yourself. Be honest!
Who I Thought I Was
For many years of my life I thought pretty negatively about myself. I never thought of myself as good enough for anything or anyone. I always thought I could do better than what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong, pushing yourself can be good, but not in this case. I wasn’t pushing myself in a healthy way, it was in a way that was mean and degrading. If you would have asked me in my high school and college years to do this activity this probably would have been my list; an O’Connor (the picture above of my huge, loving family!), a softball pitcher, a bulimic, unmemorable, a writer, and average. I told you, I didn’t think very highly of myself. Not all of these are bad traits, but they are not who I truly am. I struggled for a long time with this self image. It took me getting to know God to change that image of myself to a more positive one. It wasn’t a magical overnight fix, but a long journey that I am still on.
Who I Thought God Was
I had “known” God practically my whole life. I had grown up going to a small country church in Maine a half mile from my house. I went to Sunday School and heard all of the stories and was in the Christmas pageants as angels and Mary. I knew who God was, but never really understood what He was all about. And honestly for a long time I was mad at God. I was mad that I had seen so much evil in the world and so much unfairness going on around me. It didn’t make sense that a God who loves would let all of this happen to his children. I didn’t want to know or spend my time on a God like that. It took me until I was 24 to meet someone who explained God to me in a way that I wanted to get to know Him more.
She explained to me that God wasn’t a God who sat up on His throne and cast down earthquakes and tornadoes or ignored dying children. She explained He was a loving Father who gave His children free will. A free will to choose how to live their own lives and hopefully to choose to love and obey God, but if they didn’t they would suffer the consequences of that free will decision. She explained that we live in a broken world where there is a war of good and evil and we live in broken bodies that fail us every day. She explained that God wanted to know me, His daughter, and had loved me even through all those years I was mad at Him. She explained that God had been looking out for me and had been trying to lead me back to Him. This was a God I wanted to get to know. This was a God that I could understand and love.
I slowly began to discover the things in my life that were holding me back. Some of those things were my actions and the decisions that I made, but one of the biggest ones was this image I had of who I was. These “things” that I thought defined who I was, were not at all how God saw me. God has such a bigger view of who we are and who we can become. God knows our hearts and who we want to be. We sometimes struggle to become this person because we live in this broken world full of alluring things like; drinking with friends, or going out to clubs to meet strangers, or stealing a pair of jeans because your best friend just showed you how to get away with it, or having sex because everyone else has already done it or buying a new fancy toy because everyone else has one. God knows the evils of this world and how tempting it is to succumb to them, but God also knows that we can do better. With love and obedience we can become the children that He created us to be.
Who We Really Are
God has shown me so much about my true identity that has helped me grow into a better person. Our true identity does not lie in our age, race, gender, occupation, habits, or physical characteristics. Our true identity lies in Christ and what he did for us. Christ died for you and me and through Christ’s blood is the only way that God sees us and the only way that we should see ourselves. The apostle Paul tells us in the letter to the Galatians that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This is our true identity; Christ in you. When we become born again Christians we have Christ living in us. The attributes of Christ are now my attributes. I can throw off the ones I had and crucify them, because they are no longer who I am. Instead of being “an O’Connor”, which was my maiden name that I am very proud of, God sees me as His child. (1 John 3:1) Instead of being a pitcher in a softball game, I am a fellow laborer with Christ.(1 Corinthians 3:9) Instead of being identified as someone who had an eating disorder, God sees me as a child who already has the approval she was seeking.(2 Corinthians 10:18) God doesn’t forget who we are, He knows us by name (John 10) and our names are written in the book of life (Revelation 21:27). Instead of being a writer, I am a voice and a messenger of God’s word.(1 Corinthians 1:17) Instead of being average, God sees me as fearfully and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:14)
I want to align myself with what God thinks, because otherwise we are playing into the tactics of the evil one. I want to see the bigger picture, I want to be thinking how God wants me to think. I want to be able to combat the devil with the word of God. I don’t want to let the devil talk me into feeling small or insignificant. After all, God does not see us as the world sees us. There is no way we can compete with the photoshopped, hugely edited world that we live in! But thankfully we don’t have to! We can go to the word of God and remind ourselves of how God views us – because that is our TRUE identity.