Originally published Monday, 06 March 2017.
Who am I?
This is a question I've been asking myself lately. I knew who I was where we used to live. But who am I now in this new place? This new community? This new church? Who am I now that my kids need me less and less with each passing year?
Who am I?
This is a question I've asked myself numerous times in my life. When I was a teen, I asked myself this question as I looked at the other teens around me and wondered: "Who am I if I don't play sports? Who am I when everyone is categorized by what they wear, where they live, who they date, and what they look like? Who am I when I don't fit in anywhere?"
The question returned when I was newly married and I attempted to navigate the challenging questions: "Who am I as a married woman? Is my identity wrapped up in who I am married to and how good a wife I am?"
When we decided I would stop working as a counselor to stay home with our children, I wondered: "Who am I now that I can't identify myself by my work? What does it mean to be a stay-at-home mom? What happens to those gifts and skills God has given me, do they just get buried in with the pile of laundry that never dissipates?"
I know that around the corner lies even more questions, like "Who am I now that the kids are out of the house and on their own? Who am I when I can't get around like I used to? Who am I when I need other people to do things for me that I used to do for myself?"
A Secure Identity
Throughout my life, the responsibilities, roles, jobs, and commitments I make will change. They will come and go. What I do with my time in one decade will likely be different in the next. My identity can't be rooted in those things. Even a role as important as motherhood can't be how I define myself. It can't be what I rest in to give my life meaning. Because what happens when the house is empty and I'm no longer needed?
Though I'm prone to forget, Scripture tells me who I am. It gives me an enduring meaning and purpose. It's something that will not change no matter what changes in my world around me. It won't change with my age or the season of life I am in. It won't change whether I live in this town or in another. It's not effected by what I do but it does inform what I do.
When God spoke this world into existence, He created mankind. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were made to image God. "Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:26-27). They were given responsibility to rule over the world God had made as His representatives. They glorified Him in their obedience, in their relationship with one another, and in their enjoyment of being in God's presence.
Then they fell into sin. They defied the one thing God told them they couldn't do. Because Adam was our representative, his action had an effect on all of us. When he fell, we all fell. We all inherit our sin nature from him. Yet even before God announced the curse upon Adam and Eve, He prefaced it with this promise, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15).
Jesus is the Second Adam, the one who perfectly obeyed, and the fulfillment of that promise in Genesis 3:15. That's because He is God incarnate. "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3). Through faith in the Son of God and His perfect life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection, we are united to Him and are adopted into God's family. Christ's perfect life of obedience is given to us. Because He obeyed in our place, because we are united to Him by faith, God looks at us and accepts us. He has given us His Spirit who is even now conforming us into the image of Christ.
We were created as image bearers. Though the image was broken by the Fall, through our adoption into the family of God, we are now redeemed image bearers. That's our identity. We are "in Christ." God chose us before the foundation of the world to be conformed into the image of His Son. We now live to bring Him glory. The Westminster Confession tells us that our primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That was Adam and Eve's purpose in the Garden and through Christ, we are enabled to once again to live out that purpose and identity.
So when I wonder who I am in the various contexts and seasons of life, I have to remember this truth: I am in Christ. Whatever changes take place throughout the seasons of my life, whatever new experiences I face, I remain a child of God. I bear His image in this world. This identity gives shape to how I do the jobs, roles, and tasks God gives me. This identity informs what it looks like for me to be a wife, mother, and co-worker. It defines how I serve and love others, and even how I live out the final years of my life. This identity is always with me and will be with me into eternity. "You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (Romans 8:15-17).
So who am I? I am in Christ. I am God's own. I am an image bearer created to glorify and enjoy my Maker.