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Confidence can be elusive but your identity is the key to finding it. Overshoot and you become proud or arrogant. Undershoot and you carry a heavy burden of discouragement. It’s possible to be confident and humble at the same time. It all depends on how you orient your life: where you find your identity.
Becoming confident takes time. You can develop it as you experience life when considering God as your audience of one. You can become your ideal self–the best version of you that you are pleased with.
Your ideal self is precisely who God means for you to be. You can’t know your ideal self instantaneously. Your identity is God’s greatest gift to you only if you open it up and discover who you are.
I love the following quote, which I first discovered through Darlene Harris while planning an article for her site, andherestorethmysoulproject.org.
Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.St. Catherine of Siena
This means you have a significant destiny to fulfill by being your ideal self. If you knew who God meant for you to be you wouldn’t want to be anyone else.
To become your ideal self you must journey through four developmental stages. Each stage has a primary focus: caregiver, creation, crisis, and finally Christ. Before you can reach your full potential in one stage, you must complete the challenge of the previous stage. You can work on multiple stages at a time, but incomplete work limits your progress.
1. Caregiver-Focused Identity
You start life dependent on your primary caregivers. You don’t have anything to contribute to others. Your only real job is to learn how to receive from others. Can you receive from others without becoming unnecessarily dependent on them? You can receive and grow at the same time. You receive so you can grow.
2. Creation-Focused Identity
You develop competency and skill by interacting with the external world. At first, you learn to crawl, walk, and run. You learn who you are based on who you connect with the world beyond your body. If you do this well, you contribute to others through the work of your hands. If you don’t, you can become dependent on creation, instead of your creator, to sustain a positive outlook on life.
3. Crisis-Focused Identity
At some point in your life, you face a crisis. A crisis tests your internalized growth or identity. It forces you to clarify your worldview and specifically your Godview. Will you choose to:
- Avoid God and return to creation to meet your needs?
- Attempt to move Against God and redefine creation to meet your needs?
- Ally with God and learn how to let God meet your needs?
If you reject God in some way (option 1 or 2), you’ll likely choose some other ally to depend on (creation or caregivers) as if they were God. You’re vulnerable to developing an addiction because you remain crisis focused instead of Christ-focused. You struggle to accept a good God in a world where you’ve experienced evil.
4. Christ-Focused Identity
You can become a Christian at any of the four steps along the way to identity maturity. However, if you’re not a Christian by the time you reach stage three, the process of resolving your crisis by allying with God and becoming a Christian allows you to enter stage four.
In this final state, you’re sold out on becoming exactly who God made you to be. You desire to align yourself with God’s reality, not a reality you make up. You’re determined to remove any false ideas concerning who you are.
Can you feel the burning in your heart to become all that God made you to be? Are you stuck at any stage in particular? God has all His resources ready to help you become who He made you to be. Then you can set the world on fire. The material in this post comes from my book To Identity and Beyond.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.