When we were kids, my cousin and I would “play school” all summer long. We’d take turns (though we often argued about it first) being the teacher and the student. We’d make up our own classroom rules, worksheets, and even dress up accordingly. We would take on a new identity.
The best part was we could pick a new name; have a new identity. Sometimes I’d purposefully get into trouble with my eleven-year-old cousin/teacher, just so I could see her write T-A-W-N-Y on the poster board that served as our classroom chalkboard. It was the most beautiful sounding name I’d ever heard.
I got that name from a waitress at our local Pizza Hut, circa 1980. She was everything I wanted to grow up to be—smart, pretty, kind, and very generous when it mattered most, like when it was time to refill soda glasses.
My new identity made me feel smart, pretty, brave, and special—like I could do anything!
But when imaginary school was over, I had to go back to the real world. No matter how much I wanted it to be so, I just couldn’t be Tawny. The world wouldn’t let me.
As I grew older, playing games like pretend school weren’t as much fun. I began to listen to the world tell me I wasn’t all that smart or pretty, I was way too skinny and tall, I was scared to death of just about everything. I just couldn’t do much of anything right.
Unfortunately, I believed the world.
That contributed to a life of fear and anxiety, defeat, and self-deprecation. I knew about God and His love for me, but there was a huge disconnect between knowledge and application. I didn’t link His love for me with my real worth and true identity until well into my adulthood.
I understood who He was and that I was His child, but I had no concept of what that meant for me, aside from spending eternity with Him. I didn’t understand that, by knowing my identity was found in Him, I would be able to distinguish between fact and fiction, truth and untruth. I didn’t know that it could give me power over the lies of a dark world.
Have you been trying to find your identity in the world?
I sought my worth—or the lack thereof—in the world, instead of looking for who He says I am within the pages of His Word. And, honestly, I still do that sometimes.
I just forget.
I get wrapped up in all the chaos that goes on in my tiny world. Before I know it, my head is filled with wrong messages, lies, and negative self-talk that I’d be embarrassed to share with you. Oh, the things I’ve said to myself and called myself—the names I’ve given myself throughout my life and even this week!
So, just in case I’m not the only one, here (and on page 37) are ten verses, taken from the Amplified Bible, that have helped me not only realize my true identity but have also served as reminders when the world gets the best of me and I forget the truth.
When someone has called me names, when I’ve given myself an ugly name or two, or when I find myself wishing my name was something else, these verses center me. They’ve been a comfort in times of heartache, given me courage on scary days, and revealed to me the affectionate and beautiful names my Father calls me.
It’s my prayer that, if you’ve also had a rough go of things lately and have found yourself discouraged and listening to the lies of the enemy, these verses will encourage you and remind you of your real identity—the person God knows you to be—the person you really are in Him.
Because that, my friend, is all that really matters.
Photo credit: Anthony Intraversato on Unsplash