There is a school of thought out there that if you dive too much into “true identity,” you will lose yourself to SELF.  Some people believe that when others get on a road to self-discovery they are selfISH and self-absorbed.  However, how can we understand who God wants us to be if we don’t understand who we really are in the first place?

So many people in the world CONFORM to an identity that either they or other people have placed upon them.  People have chosen career paths or colleges to go to or cities to live in based upon an identity that they wanted to become.  Yet, they have done this without the process of exploration.  “What do I like?  Where do I REALLY want to live?  What do I want to become?  What kind of career will allow me to become that kind of person?”  Instead, they have jumped to the end and conforming to the identity but they never found their true self in the process.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2

Adults influence children’s identities all of the time. “Oh, she’s such a tomboy, always getting dirty.”  “Oh, he’s so good at math, he’s going to be an accountant.”  “Look at that kid’s arm, he’s gonna make it in the big leagues someday!”  How are children supposed to figure out what God’s calling is for them when they have adults weighing in on the matter?

I suffered from this scenario myself.  All through high school a teacher was telling me I needed to become an architect.  “JB,” he’d call me with his Texas drawl, “you just get yirself into architecture school and you’ll be all set.”

I also self-imposed an identity on myself based on genealogy.  My grandfather was a stone carver.  He carved beautiful monument stones, some of which may exist in Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont.  I believed that because design existed in his hands, they would in mine as well.

So I got myself into architecture school and SUFFERED for over a year.  I finally called it quits after a professor pulled me aside, noticed I was miserable and explained to me that life’s too short and that architecture school was not my calling.  So I turned my back on my “dream” (my dream that was fabricated) and went to do something else.  It was one of the most heartbreaking choices of my life.

Being an architect was not God’s choice for me.  If it was, I would not have found studio to be so miserable.  God would not choose a career path for me that I dreaded.  Rather than conform to how Mr. Roland identified me, and what I thought was mine, I needed to learn my own identity.

Identities are beyond career paths, and the churches we belong to, and the areas we live in.  While those things influence and either enrich our identity or stifle us, they shouldn’t define us.

I believe one of the worst things we can do to ourselves, and it’s not very God honoring, is to get to the end of our life (which could end at any second, by the way) and not have somewhat of an understanding of how He uses us in His plan.  The only way we can understand what His plan is for us is if we understand the identity he gave us.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:1-4

And the only way we can understand His identity for us is to look upward and inward rather than out.  We won’t find His identity for us if we idolize what other people have and do.  Spend some time alone.  Do some creating.  Do some reading.  Find out what God has given you passions for and go be THAT person.  The world needs you to be that person.