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Identity is both a mystery and a guide. Only God knows everything about us. We speak, feel, and act from the core of who we are, but only God completely knows our hearts. And yet, the longer we live, the more we come to understand who we are.
Identity is Like a Seed
If you plant an apple seed, can it grow into a pear tree? Of course not! The identity of the seed is the same as the tree. Identity is “preprogrammed” by God. When we are conceived, a seed is planted and it will grow into the person God plans for us to be.
People must go through a second conception and birth to overcome the spiritual death present from the first birth. The first birth reveals only a shadow of true life. The first seed contains complete plans but lacks spiritual life. The second seed recreates people with spiritual vitality so that they can connect with God.
A seed looks nothing like what it will grow into. Only after it has matured can we see it for what it is. Unfortunately because of sin and creation’s curse, what is visible is distorted.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.1 Corinthians 13:11-12 ESV
Identity Is What You Cannot Lose
Imagine you’re in the worst sandstorm of all time. The wind uses the sand to scrub away at you. The intensity of the blast separates little pieces of you and the wind carries them into the distance.
If this were a real sandstorm, your body couldn’t withstand it. But I’m talking about a cleansing from who you aren’t. After such a thorough cleansing, what is left of you?
Identity is what you can’t ever lose. Whatever is left is the true you. What got carried away wasn’t ever really a part of the true you. Maybe through life experiences, you feel as though you’ve lost yourself. Don’t worry. You are still there. God knows exactly who you are.
These four dictionary definitions (compiled from yourdictionary.com and dictionary.com) capture the essence of identity. Identity is:
- “Who you are.”
- “The set of characteristics by which you are definitively recognizable.” This definition clarifies that we can use identity to distinguish you from others.
- “Your unique characteristics held by no other person.” This definition clarifies that having an identity means you have something that no one else will ever have.
- “What remains the same, constant, persisting over time, under varying circumstances.” This definition provides the insight that identity must be permanently yours, or else it isn’t part of you.
Take a moment and think about what can be taken from you or what you can lose. What is left? I’m not talking about the things God has promised are yours. If you’re a Christian, you have eternal life and an eternal relationship with God and others. Your identity is who you are. The “who that is you” will always be forever. Remember this when you feel like life is ripping you apart.
And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
God is helping you become the purest and truest version of who you are. Listen to the Refiner’s Fire worship song. Ask God to help you know and experience your true identity.
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.