I grew up in church, which is almost as dangerous as growing up in the rural South. When you grow up surrounded by God, it’s easy to think you know God, but the truth is, I’ve been getting God all wrong for years.
Growing up, my image of God was like a father who’d just gotten home from work, exhausted and holding me, his dirty, squirming child, at arms length so as not to muss his best suit. Jesus was the member of the trinity I related with, the one who might think I was okay, but I saw God the Father as distant and uninterested, lurking somewhere on the fringes of my life.
Who Am I?
When I was on DTS, we had a whole week of lectures on identity. I don’t know about you, but I’d never given much thought to identity. I always figured you are who you are because that’s how things worked out—not that there’s a plan, and a perfect one at that.
One night during lectures, as I sat in the back of the room, alternating between slight dozing and violent fits of coughing, the speaker said something interesting: “God’s definition of perfect is you.” That phrase, quite honestly, sounds like a Hallmark card, but it’s got everything to do with God’s father-heart.
I’ve already told you I’ve got issues with perfectionism, but I’ll tell you again because it bears repeating. I struggle with the concept of perfection—mental, psychological, spiritual, culinary, imaginary—if there’s a standard, I’m trying to reach it. Add to this the annoying fact that I’m a woman in possession of her visual capabilities, and I’ve got a zillion airbrushed examples of how I’m not measuring up.
Looking the Part
I’m a six foot tall blond who’s been called everything but ugly, but I’m still convinced deep down in my gut that I’m missing the mark, that my butt is too big and my eyes are too small, that I need straight bottom teeth and an Ivy League diploma—that my worth is determined by something other than who I am.
I’ve always struggled to make myself better, convinced that if I was just a little bit prettier, smarter, or better at basket-weaving, people would like me, I wouldn’t feel overlooked, and maybe someday, a guy would decide I was worth loving. I’ve heard the “God made you perfect” line before, but that doesn’t keep me from feeling guilty when I eat a piece of cake.
Identity is a concept I’ve always held loosely. Yeah, maybe I’m a bit of a mess today, but waiting somewhere in the golden future is this deluxe-model Bryanna who’s worked through all her issues and floats about 3 inches off the ground. Who needs identity when you’ve got idealism?
God’s truth, however, says something quite different. That whole “made in the image of God” thing? Um, well…God’s image is kind of perfect. Are you short? Have brown hair and detached earlobes? Have an affinity for spicy food and sarcasm? Guess what, God did that for a reason. The truth is, God has a walking-talking plan for your life, a specific piece of this divine puzzle that only you can fit, and part of that has to do with who your mom is.
The Insecurity Complex
And what about insecurity? Ultimately, insecurity is pride because it says that our idea of perfection is better than God’s. Insecurity is calling God a liar. So every time you compare yourself to another person, every time you bash your appearance, every time you tear someone down, you’re committing the same sin that got Satan kicked out of heaven.
Let me say that again, in case you didn’t get it the first time—insecurity is sin! I’m pretty sure I missed that sermon, or maybe I was too busy fixing my hair in the church bathroom.
Before YWAM, I thought insecurity was a normal part of the human experience—you’re insecure, I’m insecure, now let’s bond over Oreos and fat-talk. But insecurity isn’t a harmless by-product of humanness—insecurity breeds fear and inferiority, stripping us of our dignity until we’ve swallowed so many lies about who the world says we are we don’t know who our Creator says we are.
When it comes to identity, God makes no mistakes. We can try, but it’s impossible to change who we’ve been made to be without forfeiting God’s plan for our lives. Don’t underestimate the implications of this truth. Insecurity is sin and the nature of sin is to steal, kill, and destroy. Often, our view of ourselves is so twisted by insecurity it’s impossible for us to see ourselves the way God sees us.
Listen people, we’ve got to shake this. This isn’t some “free to be you and me” speech, this is life and death. Once I became aware of my insecurity, I began to see it in so many aspects of my life. Insecurity made me a people-pleaser. It gave me a massive fear of failure. It made me needy and manipulative. Insecurity seeped into the cracks of my being and made me into something I was never meant to be—and I’m still fighting to know the truth.
Asking the Right Questions
If you don’t know who you are, ask God. Consider everything about yourself, from your personality to your nationality, asking God to speak his truth into each aspect of your personal identity. Start with why. Why do I have curly hair? Why am I the oldest of 5? Ask him and he’ll answer you, often with answers you never expected.
But you can’t stop at why. Once you know the truth, you must teach yourself to ruthlessly agree with that truth. When the old lies surface—and they will—remind yourself of who you are in Christ. At first, it’ll be empty words, but when you live in the truth, freedom will follow.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
When there’s freedom to be lived, why would we settle for anything else? It’s a fight many people never start and few ever finish, but I believe knowing ourselves is the key to freeing others. The truth was never an easy thing to know and freedom was never an easy thing to live, but that’s what makes it worth fighting for.
We’re fighting to know the truth. We’re fighting to free ourselves and live for others. We’re fighting for something better.
*Music “You Are Enough” by Sleeping At Last