Monday, August 6, 2012

Reclaiming Identity: What's Your Measuring Stick?

I wrote an article for Relevant about 5 Things I Wish I'd Known About Dating, that flooded my inbox with reader emails.  It was awesome to see how many young people connected with the myths I had struggled with through my dating years.

But one thing in particular that kept coming up again and again in my emails was the question about Identity in Christ.  In the article, I briefly mentioned the idea that your beliefs about yourself have a great impact on the kind of person you will end up with, and how you must learn to change your beliefs about yourself and root your identity in Christ.

I don't think any Christian would disagree with this idea of finding our identity in Jesus...but what does that actually look like?  More than anything else, the emails I received were asking that same question. 

This isn't an easy topic, and I don't think one blog post has the ability to do it justice (though I am working on an entire chapter about this in my book...even then I think I could turn this single topic into an entire book series!).  But I want to take a moment to address two parts to what finding identity in Christ has meant in my personal life.

1. Acknowledging my measuring stick:  A few years ago a good friend of mine used this term "measuring stick" and it has stuck in my mind ever since.  What is your measuring stick?  What is it that you measure yourself against to determine your value, your purpose, and your worth?  Is it friendships?  The approval of your parents?  Relationship Status?  Is it your job, your grades, or your accomplishments?  Your athletic abilities, talents, or physical appearance?  There are so many things that we can measure ourselves by...and that we do measure ourselves by each and every single day whether we are aware of them or not.  

But the problem with rooting our identity in these things is that they come and they go.  Their presence in our lives is inconsistent and always changing.  When my identity is grounded in my relationships, what happens when those relationships change?  When it is in my appearance, how beautiful, skinny, and fit is enough?  When it is in my accomplishments, what happens when I fail? 

Life can be a roller coaster of emotions when these things are our gauge.  Our identity suffers instability and insecurities measured up against such volatile things. 

2.  A new set of standards: Each and every day I have to wake up and replace my old measuring stick with my new one.  Rather than constantly living for who I want to be, I have learned to fix my eyes onto who I already am...according to my identity in Christ.  The identity He has set for me.  The identity He has created while I was just in the womb (Psalm 139). 

I have to take the old beliefs and measure them up to these higher standards.  God's word is filled with truths about who we are in Him, and it takes a lot of practice to start believing those truths, especially when we've been believing lies our whole lives.  Here are just some of the truths that have really helped me:

1. I am God's child- John 1:12
2.  I am Christ's friend: John 15:15
3.  I am noticed: Psalm 139
4.  God has good plans for my life: Jeremiah 29:11
5.  I am forgiven: Ephesians 1:8
6.  God has chosen me: Colossians 3:12
7.  I have purpose: Psalm 138:8
8. I am God's creative expression: Ephesians 2:10
9. I belong to God: 1 Peter 2:9
10. I am loved: 1 John 3:1

This is truth.  This is the measuring stick upon which our lives should be set.  Scripture is filled with thoughts and ideas about who we are and what it means to place our identity in Christ for those who are seeking.  It takes hard work to reclaim our identities from the enemy.  For some, it's a daily struggle...

But we will live out the kind of life that we believe we deserve.  And according to God's His grace and because of His mercy, we deserve a whole lot.  Exchange your measuring stick for His.  Reclaim your identity...Rooted in Christ...Founded in truth.  


  1. I love the picture of the measuring stick! As a pastoral counselor, I see this as huge work for clients to work through ... to begin to define ourselves by who we are in Christ. Not who your mama said you were, not who a man wants you to be, not what the culture or your friends demand from you.

    Once we grasp the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:9 and 'make it our goal to please Him,' things begin to clarify, life becomes simpler. I am who He says I am in His Word. My choices are all about making Him happy, not pleasing this one or that one.

    Thanks for this great word picture!

  2. Thank you, Linda! Hopefully that analogy will be helpful in your counseling pursuits...such an important topic, one that I am constantly learning about in my own life. Thanks for reading and for getting in touch!

  3. What a important issue, i see this directly related to the youth christians. we have so many "measure sticks" around us and is easy to forget what God says i am but you put it in the table in a clear way. Thanks for this post.
    I'm psychologist and youth pastor in Costa Rica and i want to tell you that your work is going out of the frontiers and helping many people.
    Pd: Sorry for my english.


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