Monday, March 28, 2016

How to Handle an Identity Crisis


"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness." Colossians 2:6-9a (NIV)

"So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life." Colossians 3:1-3 (MSG)

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In the dailiness of life, it's easy to get weighed down by the different hats you have to wear.

The roles we must play as adults making our way in the world — well, they end up taking their toll on our identity. We wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and wonder who that vaguely familiar face is staring back at us?

“Who am I anyway?" 

It’s a common question. Is there more to you than just the work you do, the tasks you perform, the person you force yourself to be for all the people who need you?

Identity Crisis

In the chaos, it's sometimes hard to remember our true identity.

Who is the person down underneath all the layers, beneath the mask we wear to convince others we have it all together and we know what we're doing?

If we look deep enough for long enough, the questions can send us into a full-blown identity crisis. 

It’s one of the reasons I believe we as special needs parents have such high stress levels. It's not just the amount of actual work we do, which already takes its toll. But it's also that we lose ourselves — our very identity — in the chaos of it all.

We hear experts stress the importance of self care — and we chuckle under our breath — because who has time when there's so much needing to be done? When there are so many places to be, so many appointments to schedule, so many boxes in need of checking off?

Those dishes aren’t going to wash themselves, you know.

And so we shove it all down inside — the hurts, the fears, the hopes, the dreams, the emotions — and we deny we have needs at all. We do what's necessary to survive.

It seems like an acceptable solution. But the problem with denying the truth is this: in the process, we lose our identity. And then we wake up one day and wonder who this person is living inside our bodies.

There is hope.

Because your identity is secure.

If you are a believer in Christ, there is one word that defines and identifies you above all else. That word is Jesus. Your identity is in Jesus.

Who are you, anyway?

You are the beloved of God.

Before you think I am using trite catchphrases to slap a bandaid on a serious problem, stop to consider what a paradigm shift this truly is.

Changing How We See Ourselves

You see, we know on an intellectual level that we belong to Christ, that our identity is found in him --- but far too often, we don’t live as if we believe it. Instead, we wrap ourselves in what the world and those voices inside our heads tell us we are.

For me, it looks like this: hard worker, dedicated, wounded, anxious, smart, lonely.

Some of those aren’t bad qualities. But they are works-based qualities. They are fickle parts of me that keep me striving for unhealthy levels of perfection, always trying to earn my way to worthiness. They are bed partners with shame.

Here’s what an identity rooted in Jesus says of me: free, healed, creative, forgiving, thankful, loving.

These are grace-based characteristics. They are the easy yoke we so desperately need. They are what God sees when he looks at us through the lens of Jesus.

I know how tired you are. 

I know because I’m tired, too. The only thing saving me through this arduous earth-journey is knowing where my identity lies.

And that means putting on my Jesus goggles when I look not only at others, but also at myself.

In his book, Soul Keeping, John Ortberg says,

Too often, those of us in the Christian community see people the same way the rest of the world sees them. It’s even how we see each other. This is why we feel it necessary to wear masks in church —- to present an image that will make them see us the way we want them to see us. . . imagine how the world would respond if Christians saw people the way God sees them.”

I’d like to go a step further and add, “Imagine how your life would be if you saw yourself the way God sees you.”

Special needs parents, there is deep value in your identity. You are precious and dearly loved. 


If you’ve spent time struggling with the lies of sin and shame, I want you to know first of all, you’re not alone. And I also ache for you to know this: you don’t have to believe those lies anymore.

You don’t need to hold the world together. We have a savior who’s already got that job under control.

His name is Jesus. Take a breath and speak His name out loud. Ask him to help you see yourself the way he sees you.

Take baby steps.

You are loved. Your identity is in Christ alone.


Breathe.
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Lord, I pray for any reading these words who have been weighed down by shame for too long. For those who are always striving to do it all and hold everything together, I pray for an extra measure of your love and grace. May we learn to see ourselves the way you see us, as holy and deeply loved. Give us the humility to accept your easy yoke and not be burdened anymore by the yoke of slavery. Remind us how we are precious in your sight. Teach us to rest in you.

~Sheri Dacon

3 comments:

  1. A very special post! I struggle(d) with shame a lot. My head would say I haven't done anything wrong, but my heart would feel differently. Yes, seeing ourselves as God sees us, believing it heart, soul and mind is so important for everyone to battle those voices that tell there is something wrong with us. Thanks for this.

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  2. How often I need the reminder that my identity is in Christ, not in what I do, and not in my role as caregiver. Thank you!

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  3. Hi I've just found your blog and looking forward to journeying with you. I don't have any kids with special needs but I work in a respite unit for children with special needs as a support worker. I can identify with much of your struggles. But as a Christian I can identify with you too and need to be reminded of who I am in Christ and that my identity is in Him. I have just ordered the blessings book you recommend and look forward to reading it.

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