An Identity Grounded in Christ


A time not long ago, I would prance around saying, “I’m moving to New York City after I graduate college. I’m going to work at one of those big fashion magazines and I’m going to be a New Yorker. It’s the dream.” I wanted to impress people by this dream, and I suppose I wanted to be associated with it.  We all want to be known for something, right? I wanted people in my hometown to identify me by the big shiny city of New York.  I wanted my identity to be tied to the big city, fashion, and writing. Well, after choosing to really submit to Jesus and follow Him wholeheartedly in the early stages of college, I realized I couldn’t keep consuming myself with this dream. It would never fulfill me. Fast forward to today, I’m living in Manhattan and pursuing that “dream job.” I actually never thought it would really happen. However, I realized I could take this interest of mine and use it as a gateway to Him. I could be a light in this dark industry and show people that it doesn’t have to consume or control you. Well, that’s much easier said than done!

Right before Christmas break, a friend texted me asking how New York is. We briefly talked about what was going on in our lives and in the midst of it he said something along the lines of, “I don’t really care what I do for money. I’ll figure that out when I get there but all that matters is loving people and that’s my priority.” That is something simple, I know. Of course we’re suppose to 1) Love God and 2) Love our neighbors. But for some reason, what he said hit me hard.

After hearing from my friend, I began to realize how easy it was going to be for me to seek my identity in a job title. It sounds so “cool” for people to know me as writer or New Yorker or fashion girl. It’s hard in the city especially. You meet new people and the first thing they ask is, “What do you do?” There’s a lot of pressure there to say something that will impress them!

There is a quote from Brennan Manning that reads:

Define yourself as one radically loved by God. This is your true self, every other identity is an illusion.

My identity is not in my job title. It is not found in the city I’m living in. And it certainly is not found in others’ perspective of me. I am a child of the King. That’s my main title. All the rest is just details. Just the details of where we live out our calling. The one to love God and love His people. Paul refers to himself in scripture as “One beloved by God.” Why would it be so crazy to respond when someone asks me, “What do you do?” and instead of saying “I am a writer” I say, “I am one beloved by God.”  As Thessalonians 1:4 says,

...God loves you and has chosen you to be His own...

One evening back when I was doing ministry in Ohio, where I lived at the time, I was at a high school football game with a girl I had grown fairly close to. She turned to me and said, “Megan, my mom always asks me what you do." She continued on saying, "I kind of laughed and was like I don’t even know. She’s just a girl who lives a cool life.”

This may sound funny, but I have not forgotten those words she said to me that night. That high school girl saw me hang around her school and with girls her age. These girls were fairly younger than me and she knew I was doing it all because of one thing, Jesus. I had never received such satisfaction from how someone described me as she had that night. And there was nothing attached to that description. No fancy job, no big city and no impressive title. I could be making a paycheck literally anywhere for all they knew. But wow, we all want the attention.

We all want to impress by what our resumes say or where we went to school or what profession we have. But I have been so humbly reminded that if that’s how we define ourselves, that’s making it about us. Are we compelled by the fact that He loves us? That is the most important thing… not what we do, but that He loves us! What’s so true is that we/I so often have to be reminded of lessons we’ve already learned. It’s like learning the truth all over again. This is not my story, it is His. My friends, let’s not forget who we are or whose we are. THAT is our identity. The rest is just details!