Identity-Shaking Moments

KB   |   March 20, 2018 

Recently -- just 24 hours ago, in fact! -- I had an identity-shaking moment. I was entering into my adopted country after a brief holiday out, and the immigration officials thought there was a problem with my documents. For about 30 minutes, my identity was in question. And it scared me.

The drive home brought up a soul-searching conversation with my husband. Who would we be if we weren’t here? Doing this? Who would we be if our kids didn’t grow up at this school? Or in this particular house on this particular street? We’d envisioned life chugging along, with us growing in greyness and faithfulness, in deepening friendships and in joy, in our quiet little corner of Delhi. Who would we be if that wasn’t our life?

I’ve faced countless other “identity-shaking” moments throughout my life, some significantly more traumatic than my 30-minute tummy-twister yesterday. But I’ve come to see them as gracious gifts of God in my life as a believer. They are the moments that reveal what things apart from God have become the source for my significance and security in life; in short, what things have become my idols.

It is perhaps strange to think of the smoggy National Capital Region as an idol of the heart, but there it was in mine. That afternoon, I couldn’t imagine my identity apart from the life that I had envisioned and, frankly, spent a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears (ok, no blood, just lots and lots of summer sweat!) building. But a self-made identity, built on the back of my own achievements or striving, can easily be destroyed. Like any other hand-made idol, it can be crushed in an instant. If being a mom is where my significance comes from, my miscarriages will crush me. If academic achievements are what make me matter, my bad marks and failed exams will shatter me. If my relationship with a loved one gives me security, their betrayal will devastate me. An identity based in who I am and what I do will crack and creak and eventually crumble into dust. It’s the way life works, over and over and over again.

But God promises that when we adore and worship Him by embracing the gospel and surrendering ourselves to Christ, our identity will change from crumbling dust to entrenched foundation. In Christ, my identity isn’t earned or achieved, it’s given and bestowed, never to be taken away again. In Christ, my worth and value is unshakable in God’s great love and delight towards me. In Christ, my future hope is clear as promised and fulfilled by a faithful God. In Christ, my place and belonging is guaranteed through my adoption and redemption.

As I grow in grace and maturity, I hope that these “identity-shaking” moments will become less like life-altering earthquakes and more like gentle nudges. Either way, this side of heaven I’m so thankful for the mercy of God to reveal my self-made idols and show them for what they are -- unstable, insecure dust. I’m thankful that these moments cause me to re-identify and re-orient my heart onto Christ, the only one who can give me the full, secure, significant life I so deeply desire.


Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

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K is the wife of a pastor and mother of four children. Her favourite areas of ministry are discipling women, teaching children, having people in her home, and seeing the church develop a heart for orphan care and adoption. She currently lives in the NCR, loves dahlias, coffee, reading theology, philosophy, and Jane Austen, and, when the weather co-operates, being outdoors... all, ideally, with her husband and kiddos.

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One comment on “Identity-Shaking Moments”

  1. What a lovely perspective! Thankyou for putting in words your dilemma and thoughts. Thank God for this wisdom shared!

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