We live in a culture where an inordinate amount of money is spent for the purpose of defining our personal identity. The front lines of this identity battle is conceived in marketing departments and then fought in television and print advertisements. We thumb through a magazine to see how our bodies should look physically, how to apply makeup, and how to dress. As women, we look to these professionals to make us into “real women.” Hollywood holds us in a vise grip as the culture attempts to alter our morals and beliefs. We get caught in a snare that can hold sway over our sense of self for the rest of our lives. We begin to judge other adolescent girls based on false ideals. Some girls begin to feel that scrutiny in the form of teasing, being shunned, and name-calling. Very few of us escape high school without at least one label that we believe about ourselves.
The question “Who am I?” almost always morphs into: “Am I valued?” Knowing our true identity has always been a struggle for mankind but can be a special struggle for women. This struggle started in the garden when a snake suggested an alternative identity and the first couple took the bait. God pronounced enmity between woman and snake. The damage was done. The enemy of our souls convinced Eve (and then us) that Father God does not have our best interests at heart and therefore cannot be trusted. Our opinion of the Father changes with our doubt, and He becomes aloof, angry, judgmental, hostile, and unreachable. Allow me to paint a picture of my pre-conversion view of myself in relationship to Him:
It’s that moment when the poor peasant girl is summoned to the King’s Court. Everybody is staring at you. The beautiful damsels that line the royal hall are in their finest clothes, with sparkling jewelry and beautiful shoes. You see the King sitting on His throne at the end of this long hall and His authority, majesty and power are inescapable. You become uncomfortably aware of your attire. It is handmade from flour sacks or hand me downs. You’ve been working all day and that is evidenced on your brow as well as your clothes. The awe of not just the King, but also everything around Him, is just more than mere words can describe. You are more than out of place. The realization that the King has the power of life or death begins to sink into your being. You want to run, but your legs suddenly feel like 500-pound weights, and you only wish that with each step the floor could swallow you up. You feel smaller and insignificant with each passing second. Does this resonate with you? Does that paint a familiar picture of how you see yourself in the presence of the Father?
Peter reminds us that we have a real enemy who stalks the earth seeking to devour and destroy. It’s not that Satan wants you—he just doesn’t want God to have you. We have a real enemy. One way Satan does this is that he perverts our God-given name. Satan uses our desires, the legitimate needs of our hearts against us, and we are labeled: addict, alcoholic, homosexual, unworthy, unlovable, fornicator, liar, thief, abused, and the list goes on and on. His categories are endless. But God’s category is singular.
We are each known by this one name: CHILD of the MOST-HIGH KING!
The earlier story is still true, but the person in the story represents the unregenerate sinner. Let’s retell the story through the lens of truth, shall we? You are approaching the castle in your carriage. You check your attire. Your peasant clothes have been transformed into luxurious silks and satins with deep hues of blue or purple. You look around your carriage, and you are being delivered in the finest of buggies with the most magnificent horses pulling you along. When the carriage stops, there are attendants to open doors and assist you. The huge heavy double doors open wide in front of you, and it is at this moment of truth that you begin to see how things really are. You begin to walk down the long narrow hall. The crowd quiets, and there is a low buzz as if they are all acknowledging your presence. The King is on His throne at the end of the long hall. You realize that the King is your Daddy, and you are His child. You have an older brother, Jesus, who is the crown Prince. You are the King’s Princess. You are the precious child of God the Father. Your identity is that you are a child of God, created in His image for His pleasure. Romans 8 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of our Father.
How do I change my current reality? How do I move from the first story to the second story? Please understand that our healing often times is a process. I sure wanted my healing to come down to a choice between the blue pill or the red pill. I could swallow that pill before bed and I would wake up in the morning and ta-da, I would be the woman God created me to be. No pain but all gain! Right? I say this intentionally, so that when you start choosing your healing path, you won’t be blindsided by the exercise and personal stretching that may come along with it.
Let’s look at how we have arrived at this point. We learn from a very early age to seek affirmation. As we get older, we shift our attention from family to seeking affirmation from friends. Sometimes we seek so hard to belong, because we just want to be loved, that we allow others to name us and give us an identity. We start hanging out with the cool kids that drink and smoke or maybe we start hanging out with the bad boys and get sucked into a gang. Maybe we get pulled into the shallow and artificial societal crowd. When we seek affirmation from illegitimate places, we accept their judgment and their labels.
When you live with a label for many years, it becomes ingrained. When I became a Christian, I knew that I had to be reborn and that part of that process was my healing. The labels and false identity had to go. I had many labels. I wanted to be healed more than anything, but what caused me to spend Sunday afternoons face down on my bedroom floor crying and begging God to not make me change was this: if I wasn’t _____ (label name) then who was I? What value would I have? I truly could not visualize what my healing would look like. I was terrified that I would become nothing. The labels weren’t just stuck on—some of them were tattooed on me.
What can you do to get out from under such tyranny? The first thing is always to ask God to remove it and to replace it with His truth. Do you struggle with believing that Father God loves you? The first thing you must do is to simply “choose” to believe that He loves you and then start combing the scriptures for verses that verify that love. Then write those verses down and place them so that you strategically read them throughout the day. If you are the journaling type, I encourage you to journal your prayer times—to specifically write down the words the Lord speaks over you. You must take control of your thoughts. Should disparaging and unloving thoughts pop into your mind, you must immediately reject them, send them away, and ask God to give you the truth. This may be difficult at first, but repetition will reinforce a new healthy habit, and before you know it, you have lost a label and are walking in your true identity.