There comes a time in everyone’s life when it is very critical to take a stand, a defining moment. One of such defining moments is the issue of IDENTITY. The knowledge of one’s identity, can be said to be a defining moment and a very crucial and critical issue because it can make or mar an individual.
What then is Identity?
Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines identity as who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group which make them different from others. According to www.yourdictionary.com:
Identity is who you are, the way you think about yourself, the way you are viewed by the world and the characteristics that define you. Examples of identity include; a person’s name, the traditional characteristics of an American.
Identity is largely concerned with the question “who are you? What does it mean to be who you are?” Identity relates to our basic values that dictates the choices we make for instance, relationships, career, likes and dislikes e.t.c. These choices reflect who we are and what we value.
Identity may be acquired indirectly from parents, peers or the dominant cultures. Most children come to define themselves in terms of how they think their parents see them. If their parents see them as worthless, they will come to define themselves as worthless. Invariably, people who perceive themselves as likable may remember more positive than negative statements.
Psychologists assume that identity formation is a matter of ‘finding oneself’ by matching one’s talent and potential with available social roles. This often leads to identity crisis which is a feeling of being uncertain about who or what you are. This is because defining oneself within your social world is one of the most difficult choices a person can make.
In the face of this identity struggle, many end up adopting darker identities such as drug abuse, drunkenness, gambling, and eating disorders as a compensation method of experiencing aliveness or starving off depression and meaninglessness. Lack of a coherent sense of identity will lead to uncertainty. Knowing one’s identity accurately increases self-esteem and reduces depression and anxiety.
An identity is unique to each individual. No two persons have the same identity, although they could have certain similarities but never the same. In the quest for identity, many go far and wide, some even try to take an identity that was never theirs in the first place, but this makes them look as hideous as toddlers trying on an Adolescent’s clothes.
‘What Constitutes the True Self’?
‘Who are you’? Deeper than that, ‘whose are you’? The Bible is full of God’s testimony about men and women who discovered their worth in God and a revelation of their true identity thereby made unprecedented differences and their lives are testaments of exceptional feats and are called heroes Of faith in spite of the odds and prevailing situations of their time. For want of space and time, we will just consider only a few.
In Genesis 18 verse 19 God testified of Abraham as someone who will command his household to obey God. Job in Job 1:1 was described as blameless and upright, and one who feared God and turned away from evil. In Matthew 3:17 God testified of Jesus as his beloved Son with whom he is well pleased. These men had a standing with God, He knew and identified them.
When you don’t know your identity you want to behave like a chameleon that adapts and changes to each environment. But when you know who you are, you will be solid, firm irrespective of your environment, culture and time. One’s real identity is not tied to one’s profession, family, name or background or statues. The only place our identity gets to be defined is in the Father, the one who gave us this identity in the first place.
Our true identity is who we are in Christ. God in 1Peter 2:9 calls us special, chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people called out of darkness into God’s marvellous light. We are not what we wear, say, or do, or what people think of us. We are who God says we are and what we tell ourselves.
If we base our identity on other people’s opinions we will keep trying to please people and to be like others and this can be quite frustrating and suffocating. We will never be happy because we will continuously be going out of our way and comfort zones trying to fit in.
The World’s standard is constantly changing so if one wants to fit in, one will basically not have an identity because we would have to keep conforming to the different World standards. Our identity is in Christ because we are made in his image and likeness Genesis 1:26. In John 1:12 we are called the sons of God. Until we get to that point where we see ourselves as joint heirs in Christ, we will only be going in circles and seeking for validation in men. Those who have discovered their true worth in God are not defined by men, clothes, profession, family name or background. They can confidently say “I know who God says I am, what he says I am, where he says I am at”. “I know who I am”, thus they walk in power.