In every super-hero movie out there, there is a moment where they have to choose to keep their identity secret or live out loud in the world with everyone knowing who they are.
I love the ending scene of the first Iron Man movie where Tony Stark’s character is being prepped for a live TV interview about the goings-on at one of his factories. The city has seen what Iron Man can do and how he is risking his life to save those who cannot save themselves from certain disaster. Tony’s handlers have given him set of note cards with the instructions to simply read the explanation they created and end the interview.
But here’s what I love.
Tony Stark’s character stands there, looking at everyone, and calmly says, “I am Iron Man.”
Of course, everyone freaks out but he has chosen to own his identity and live it out loud for all the world to see.
Okay, so this is a movie plot and things work out just how they are supposed to because it’s entertainment. It’s not real life. We are living in real life and we grapple with our identity all the time.
My heart breaks for this younger generation who is fighting so hard to find their identity.
Wading through the endless sea of social media, they are bombarded by the “unreality” of the perfect post. They are tied into how many “likes” their post receives and if it doesn’t get enough, they deem that post insignificant and usually end up removing it. The comparison game is off the charts as well. Constantly caught up in the tidal wave of who has what and when and how much; whether that be money, a large social media following, a significant other, or a fantastic wardrobe. There is always something they are wanting to have. Something they believe that will make their life better, give them meaning in a personal way, and bring them the identity they are so desperately searching for.
But it’s not just the Gen X or Millennial generation that suffers from identity crisis.
We all deal with it.
The good news is there is a way out of it.
As women, we are bombarded with the search for identity in just about every part of our life.
At this point in my life, on the brink of full “empty-nest” there have been so many different searches I’ve embarked on to find my identity. Until I stopped looking into things or people to fulfill that part of me, I was a big ole hot mess!
In high school, my identity was found in how many dates/boyfriends I could have. Being on the Drill Team, and staying thin and pretty was my driving force. To accomplish this, I became anorexic. My mind set was incredibly unhealthy and I was blind for a few years of how my view of my identity was actually wounding me physically and emotionally.
Becoming a wife, my identity was finally set. This was what I’d always wanted! Someone loved me for me and I didn’t have to try any more to be “good enough”. I was “Tony’s wife” and I was content in that. Or so I thought. There had to be more, but wouldn’t that be selfish of me?
Motherhood brings its own plethora of “identity crisis” that I could write a book just on those hurdles I made myself jump over. I love being a mom and I am so thankful that the Lord blessed our family with three healthy daughters. But I lost myself along the way. The sacrifices for these little people you bring into the world is what is expected. You leave yourself at the end of the line as you care for your family and if there is time left at the end of the day to take care of yourself, well great, but don’t count on it.
In my “mom” identity, I allowed the comparison game to spread like wild fire in my brain. Let me tell you, the land of “mom games” is strong in our society and it just about ate me alive.
I never felt “enough” around the other mom’s I interacted with at my kids’ schools. I allowed my insecurities of who I wasn’t overwhelm the Holy Spirit’s voice who was constantly trying to reassure me of who I was. I ended up feeling “too much” of all the wrong things.
Not thin enough, not rich enough, not the right car, not the right clothes, too many ideas, too many opinions, no membership at the local pilates gym, kids not in the right extra-curricular activities or enrolled in enough AP classes, lived too far from school, didn’t have a nice enough house, and so on and so on.
In the midst of all this I did have one epiphany. I went to an event for the moms at one of kids’ school. The things I heard from these other women broke my heart. I never suspected they were struggling with anything because to me, they had it all; their lives were perfect.
Affairs, eating disorders, drug abuse, children’s disciplinary issues, serious health trauma…the floodgates of honesty opened up that day. Sadly, the generosity of spirit only seemed to last until the event was over. Monday morning came, and it was business as usual.
But what I came away with was the solid knowledge that no one has it “all together.” Yes, I was in the toughest weight battle of my life at that point, but I could go home to a husband who had never cheated on me or ever lied to me…like ever! The way some of these women had been truly wounded by the husband that had promised to love, cherish, and protect them was unfathomable to me.
I did not take it lightly then, and I don’t take it lightly now, but I am beyond grateful to have such a faithful husband.
I decided that I could not continue to put my identity into the hands of people who didn’t really know me; or in people who truly did not intend to even want to know who I was. You would think that is a healthy place, but it wasn’t for me. My decision to “just be me” had an adverse-effect on those around. I’m mature enough now to be able to admit that. If I was happy, you knew it. If I was miserable, you knew it. If I was angry, you knew it. If I was pouting, you knew it. Goodness sake, I didn’t even want to be around myself most of the time.
I was still missing the key ingredient in my identity.
Being a stay-at-home mom was a huge blessing and I loved those years. I realize even more so now that it is a job and it’s okay to think of it as such. Did I love doing laundry, cleaning the house, driving a million miles a month, or sitting in countless hours of car line? Not really, but did I want to be sitting in an office doing paperwork of some sort or another? No way! It works for so many people, I just knew that it wasn’t for me and my husband was thankfully on the same page with me and wanted me home with our girls.
As they grew, my identity as their mom changed too. High school brings with it a whole new universe of independence. I never thought I’d let my girls drive themselves to school, but when that first week arrived to have our middle daughter drive herself and her younger sister to high school, it was a beautiful thing! I realized that as they needed me a bit less, I turned the heat up on my volunteering at the school. I was really good at it and it made me feel “enough”.
So why did I feel so empty so much of the time?
Because I continued to put the accolades of others, the feeling of being needed by others, the pervasive attitude of “I’m the only one who can do this correctly or it won’t get done” was at the forefront. It was all about what others thought about me – that was my identity.
One day, I heard the Lord say something to me. It started out as a whisper and continued until His voice bellowed lovingly to my heart…
You are enough because I love you enough!
God’s Word is full of His promises to reassure us that we are enough when we place our identity IN HIM! All the things of this earth are temporary and we will never ever get what we need to fulfill our hearts when our focus is on those things. Everything we need is brought to us through understanding who we are in Christ.
“So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
“For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].”
These are but three examples of how we already have identity in Christ but also in how we can maintain our identity in Him.
God fashioned each one of us with gifts and talents for things that only we can do. He sees our life from the beginning to the end all at once.
Think about that for a minute. From the beginning of our life when we were conceived in our mother’s womb to the very end when we leave this earth and go back to Jesus; He sees our whole life at the same time. He has plans, good plans, for how we are to walk through our life. Places only we can go and speak what He gives us to share with others because of our life circumstances. God did not create us to be identified by our circumstances, by other people, or by the world’s standards.
Our identity rests entirely in His hands. Who we are was created by Him. How we serve others is inherent in the way He formed our brain and our heart.
Here’s the glorious revelation – we are not supposed to be like anyone else! We are a one-of-a-kind creation! As complex as our fingerprints, we have been individually created to do unique things in our life. No one will ever have my specific fingerprints. In the same way, no one will ever be able to make an impact on this world like I can. And it’s the same for YOU!
You were created by God to be a woman of character, a woman who makes a difference in her sphere of influence because of the gifts He has given you, a woman who brings along others in enthusiastic pursuit of their identity in Him, a woman who unabashedly proclaims her worth is within the Creator of the world, a woman who defiantly stares down the enemy because her true identity is as a Daughter of the King of Kings!
If you were standing at a podium before a bunch of news media, anxiously awaiting to hear from you, would you read the cards given to you by the world who wants to decide who you are?
Or would you stand firmly, unflinchingly and confidently say, “I am a Daughter of the Most High and I am enough!”
Who is your identifier? What are you identifying marks? What impact are you called to make?
How do you identify? Do you work in secret behind the veil so you won’t get hurt by anyone? Do you change your identity mask based on who you are around? Or do you walk confidently in your true identity?
about the author
René is a 6th generation, born & raised, Southern California girl, currently residing in Altadena, CA. René has a mother’s heart and serving women of all ages is what she has been called to do for the past 25 years. She currently serves at church on the Women’s Ministry Council as well as with her husband Tony in leading their adult Sunday school class. René believes in the authentic beauty of who God created women to be, and desires to bring others into their own gifted ness as she shares her story of God’s goodness & provision throughout her life. www.renebancroft.wordpress.com