We all carry around some sort of Identification. If you want to drive legally on the road, you need a driver’s license. Many places of work require you to carry some sort of ID. And these days, if you’re a student, you have to have an ID card made and carry it around. These pieces of identification almost always have a picture of our face on them. Our face is how people identify us. We put our face in our profile pictures for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so that people will recognize us. Our face is in many ways synonymous with our identity.
But when we meet someone and we’re telling them about ourselves, we don’t show them a picture of our face. We try and explain to them who we are. For instance, if I meet someone, and I ask them to tell me about themselves they might say something like this:
“My name is Steve, I’m an accountant. I grew up in Atlanta but now I’m living here in Nashville. I went to Vanderbilt and that’s where I met my girlfriend Natalie. I love backpacking and going to sporting events.”
And this is a perfectly fine way to describe oneself to someone they’re just meeting! But lately I’ve been thinking about how we identify ourselves to ourselves.
Throughout my life, I have done this in many different ways. In elementary school I told myself that I was wicked smart. I was a wiz at multiplication tables. I had some showdowns with fellow classmates, but I was quite confident in my abilities. However, when I failed to win a spelling bee for two straight years, I decided that maybe that was not my identity. And then I thought I could be good at sports. If you’ve met my parents, you know that I have been blessed with tall-person genes. For whatever reason, I missed out on that biological pot of gold and wasn’t much of an athlete. To give you a tweet-length scouting report on my football playing career it would be “Has a good low center of gravity, it just doesn’t move with much speed.” So as many kids like me do, I developed humor as a way to fit in with the cool kids. And throughout high school this was my go-to identity. Since then, I’ve found my identity in many other things along the way.
I re-watched Stranger Things this week in anticipation of season 2 coming out soon. (For those of you who don’t know, Stranger Things is a sci-fi thriller show on Netflix. If you really wanted, you could watch the whole thing in one sitting. 8 episodes, 6 and a half hours of pure unadulterated distraction from the things in life that really matter) VERY MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD…
In the show, people are disappearing, and a few of the townspeople spot a monster. They describe this monster as a creature, kind of shaped like a man, without a face. The “Dungeons and Dragons” loving characters in the show refer to the monster as the Demogorgon. This faceless monster, the Demogorgon, is led by its impulses, consuming whatever grabs its attention.
And today, I just got to thinking, “Aren’t we like that sometimes?” For the record, it’s never a good sign when the character that you identify with in the show is a bloodthirsty monster. But there are times when I’ve felt this way.
See, when we are placing our identity in something, whether it be a job, a skill, a relationship, or a life goal, that in a way becomes how we identify ourselves. It becomes our face that we can see and picture. And most of the time, those things are not permanent. We deal with loss, failure, and change, and all of a sudden, that thing by which we used to identify ourselves has been stripped from us. We are left without a face. In these seasons (days, weeks, months, years) we feel unrooted and unhinged, and we immediately want to jump and latch onto something else that we can identify ourselves by. We want to find another job, skill, relationship, or goal we can merge ourselves with. We scramble around seeking to find something to fill that leak in our hearts that had been filled with only a temporary plug. And if you’ve been there, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Instead of scrambling, we have to sit. We have to sit in the quiet and the darkness and wait for the Lord to remind us who we are. And then, once we have slowed down and leaned in closer to the Lord, we may feel the presence of God reminding us that we bet on the wrong horse or horses. We have spent way too much time clinging to the identity that we found in the things of creation, instead of the identity that we have been given in the Creator. In the beginning, we were created in the Image of God. And we are loved deeply and fully by the Almighty God who sees our flaws and insecurities. God’s love for us is perfect. In Him, we are both fully known and fully loved, yet we spend our time seeking after imperfect affections from the people and systems who don’t and can’t fully love us.
Let us spend time diving deeper into the depths of God’s perfect love for us. God has given us a unique face and identity. We are each created in God’s Image, and together we are a masterpiece and small glimpse of the glory of God. Let’s pray that everything that we do flows out of that foundational identity.
We are loved beyond measure by a God who knows everything about us.