What Others Think vs. Our True Identity

Dr. Donna HartFor Those Seeking Hope4 Comments

As God’s children we know we are created for relationship.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit function as one God in a relationship of perfect unity.  We learn that as we have been created in His image we are created for unified relationships.

When many close friendships seemingly fade away, we can start to think we will never have close friendships.  We question whether we are sabotaging our own efforts because there must be something wrong with the way we move toward others.  We are convinced that our record of past failures will lead to a future of more failure.

As human beings, we live out of a sense of identity.  Identity refers to who we are or believe ourselves to be.  It describes how we fit in the world and reflects on how we value that place.  Our identity gets formed from many sources.  It develops from our successes and failures, what others think of us, and our associations with other people to name a few.

All of the things we have experienced, known, and felt affect how we view ourselves or how we identify ourselves.  The diversity of factors that form our identity are outweighed by one very important and crucial reality: we are beloved children of our God who defines our identity.

God Defined Identity

We need to know who we are in relation to God.  We are His children.  How He sees us and what He says forms the foundation of our identity.

To walk strong in our identity, we must acknowledge God’s love for us.  When this is our deepest value, we are free from attempting to build our worth on our own efforts.  When we get free of ourselves, we are free to focus on loving God and others.

When we don’t know that our identity is grounded in God, then we will attempt to ground the weight of our identity in what people think of us or how they treat us.  When we form our identity on what others think of us it is building our foundation for life on sand.  We will constantly be trying to redefine ourselves on what is most valuable in light of everchanging situational factors.  This is exhausting!

For example: we can start to get to know a new friend, and as comfort and familiarity grow, we care too much what they think of us, and fear they will judge us as boring and not worth getting to know.  We can get so focused on what they might be thinking that we don’t realize we are not getting to know and enjoy them.   As a relationship deepens, we start to feel anxious and can try to pattern our interests and activities to match theirs.

How can we be confident we have something to offer without basing it on the other person’s opinion of us?

True Identity

Our true identity enables us to love as Christ loved us (1 John 4:7-21).  We do have something to offer.  God loves us in tangible ways; we can do the same, as we demonstrate God’s love through us, as we are patient, kind, wise, and hopeful.  When God is at the center of our heart, we become patient and wait, even if our friend does not call us back immediately.  We will not assume something is wrong.  Even if we do lose the friendship, when God is at the center of our hearts, we will remember we are loved by Him, and He will not forsake us (Zeph. 3:17).

When we connect with the love-filled passages of Scripture, like Zephaniah 3:17-19, then the death and resurrection of Christ become more real to us.  We can struggle to accept the love God shows us personally.  As we ponder that Jesus died for us, as impossible as that seems, we pray for the Spirit to work in us, we grow to see He does live within us.  We start to live as Galatians 2:20 declares, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

We are able to experience a personal sense of God’s delight.  As He is pleased in His Son, He delights in us because we are connected to Christ by faith.  This is the deepest part of our faith, knowing that we are His beloved.  God the Father sees us through the blood of His Son and declares that He is well pleased in as He is with His Son.  This is the deepest part of our identity and no one can take that away.

This fact enables us to keep moving toward others, even when we are not feeling loved by them.  We continue to love them because God first loved us.  We can trust that God will be at work in our hearts and in our relationships.  Even if we lose a friendship or relationship, we can trust God will sustain us.  We will still be loved by the Lord and we will still be able to give love.

Are you dependent on what others think of you or is your identity grounded in Christ?

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4 Comments on “What Others Think vs. Our True Identity”

  1. Excellent article in a culture that finds its identity in all the wrong places:
    1) How I look
    2) Where I live
    3) Work status
    4) Sexual identity
    5) Facebook Friends
    A verse that has kept me centered all my life is Php 1:6….that I can be confident that God will complete what HE began in me! Even when I don’t measure up to cultural standards, even when I fail to live up to what I profess to believe, God loves me and continues to move me toward Christlikeness through the power of the Holy Spirit in me and His Word to me. Yes, there are mountains and valleys, but the path still leads to progressive sanctification!
    When I rest in that truth, my true identity is in Christ alone and I am free to love!
    Thank you for an excellent article!

  2. I have been much too concerned with what people think of me and have been seeking to change that. This article is very helpful! It describes loving my neighbor as myself in unique ways which help me to grasp where my fear of man has lead me astray. Thank you!

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