Tonight, a friend and I spoke to a group of high schoolers about identity. It was a good lesson, a good tag-team. And I think maybe a few kids might think about it again :) But really, teaching is so good because it forces me to tackle myself head-on and get to the meat of the issue. There’s no better way to clearly define your own identity is than when you have to explain it to someone else.
In ways probably typical to an American teen, I struggled with self-worth. It didn’t take much to see that the world around me thought I wasn’t enough. Wasn’t trendy enough. Wasn’t pretty enough. Wasn’t thin enough. I thought my identity was mostly in the “was nots” of my existence. It was debilitating.
But Christ was working too… and those self-worth issues slowly gave way over the years to grace and a gentle nudging. It was a start… a start to the realization that the Bible was true when it talked about finding our identity from the Spirit within. These verses became a beautiful mystery in my heart, ones that I would ponder many times (and still do).
Mark 8: 34: 38 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
I love the journey that teaching about things like this takes me on… It’s with a full and thankful heart that I could honestly say tonight these words.
I think if you ask anyone who’s sold their life out for Christ and lost their identity in him, they’d tell you that they’ve never felt more alive and full and whole. Somehow, Mark 8 happens “whoever loses his for my sake and the gospel will save it.” I have never been more sure of who I am, where I belong (not this world) and what I believe than in this growing, crazy journey of dying and following. And that is far more assuring that a list of credentials and “identity” scams the world keeps trying to throw at me.
Identity. Perhaps ambiguous. It’s personal and scary and something that can only come from deeply within. And I think perhaps one of the most liberating pieces of self to uncover.