I’m a little lost. We are the creations of a God so great that we can’t even understand ourselves. It’s beautiful. And frustrating as all get out.
When I moved to Wisconsin I had an idea of who I was: a young, Christian, outdoorsy, adventurous, hard-working woman. Compared to my family or those I had gone to school with, these words helped define me and set me apart.
But then I started working at a camp that fits me really well and attracts all sorts of people just like me. Suddenly being young, Christian, outdoorsy, adventurous, or hard-working didn’t set me apart. In fact it made me a clone of everyone else working here. And not only a clone, but sometimes a less hardcore (aka whimper) version. And my identity suffered a minor earthquake.
For example, this summer I hung out with our off-site “adventure counselors” who go whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and rock climbing for a seasonal living. When around them, I felt like a phony using the word “adventurous” to describe myself when compared to these literal adventure staff. However, although I’ve never gone whitewater rafting or even real rock climbing, I have done quite a bit of mountain biking. When I found out that not all of them are actually such hardcore mountain bikers, and I immediately felt a strong draw to mountain biking. I needed to feel more competent in something where I wasn’t outmatched in order to grasp onto an identity that seemed to get ripped out from under my feet. I still want to be adventurous. Don’t take my identity away!
As humans, we compare ourselves to others to categorize who we are. It’s simply impossible not to use this comparison system. And, in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with this natural way of understanding who we are. But in the midst of comparing my interests, skills, and likes/dislikes to others, I want to have a firmer foundation of identity.
I want to know–and not only know, but also truly believe–that I am a beloved creation of God, made in his image and made just the way he wants me. When my confidence lies in this truth, comparisons will be only used for categorizing, not for determining my value. And, if or when I’m not as adventurous, young, hard-working, or anything else as I thought I was or would like to be, having this faith in my identity as a daughter of God will allow me to respond in a healthier manner.
When I rest in my identity in Christ, I can have self-compassion and the assurance that even if I don’t fully know where I fit in this weird world, I do fit and God will use me. And when finding how I compare to others is not a desperate necessity, but rather an exploration of the different kinds of people God made, learning more about myself can become an adventure instead of solely an identity crises.
I have quite a ways to go in finding my identity in Christ first and fully. But you know what? How far I am from where I want to be or how incompetent I feel of achieving my goal doesn’t define me. Nor does the time tomorrow when I again fail to rest assured in Christ.
Instead, I am defined by the fact that I am loved and created in the image of a perfect God who doesn’t make mistakes–not even when he made me.