How to Kick Your Identity Issues to the Curb

Published Jun 04, 2024
How to Kick Your Identity Issues to the Curb

No one on earth would be willing to die for me as Christ did. That sacrifice alone is enough to base my worth and value upon.

As a kid, I grew up in a small Catholic school. With only 24 students in the class–twelve boys and twelve girls, I based my identity on my performance. My elementary school required me to get good grades and maintain a minimum GPA. After a test was graded and distributed, most girls would ask each other what grade they got. If I got a good grade, I flaunted it. If I got a bad grade, I wanted to hide. From an early age, this taught me that my worth and value were based on my accomplishments and intelligence. However, when I began high school and my classes became more complex, I struggled to keep up my grades. Although I worked hard and kept my GPA above average, I could no longer base my worth on my grades.

Because I was not athletically inclined, I didn't participate in sports activities but participated in some after-school activities. I did debate club, yearbook, and wrote poetry. Soon, I began to put my worth in my after-school activities, which didn’t satisfy either. I had a small group of friends but often felt isolated and alone. I started to question my faith during my senior year of high school. Through different people and events in my life, I gave my life to the Lord and became a born-again Christian right before I graduated high school. While this is a highlight of my life, those identity issues still followed me everywhere I went. It wasn't until many years later, after studying the Word of God and understanding who God truly was, that I was able to overcome those identity issues. 

Here is how I learned to kick my identity issues to the curb (and how you can too):

I Clung to the Word

The Bible is rich with the promises of God. Anyone who struggles with self- esteem would benefit from reading the Bible. Having a better understanding of who I am in God and that I am a child of God and an heir to God’s throne, I've slowly learned to treat myself like royalty. Rich, famous people who don't know the Lord will struggle with who they are. However, people who know the Lord don't have to struggle with identity. 

Jesus settled my worth on the cross. God’s love is so great for me that he chose to die for every sin I ever have and will commit. Because of his sacrifice, I can come to God’s throne anytime and ensure I am forgiven. The grace and mercy I experience, because of Christ’s death, cover all my sins. This assurance is enough for me to understand who I truly am and not look to society to affirm my worth and value. When I question my worth, I consult Scripture. I memorize who God says I am and repeat those verses to myself often. I also write them on index cards and place them in prominent places in my home. This is a daily reminder of the truth of who I am and helps me rebuff society’s view of who I should be. 

I Clung to God 

Even in challenging situations, I can cry out to God in my most vulnerable, dark moments, knowing he is with me. I have felt his presence in the early morning hours all alone in my bed as well as out in a crowd. Knowing that I am not alone in life is enough for me to be able to not base my identity on my accomplishments, popularity, or possessions. I can have worth and value simply because of who I am. No one on earth would be willing to die for me as Christ did. That sacrifice alone is enough to base my worth and value upon. When I default to harmful thinking, like my worth is based on what I do, I pray and ask God to allow his love to wash over me. 

I Stopped Clamoring for People’s Approval

People who try to keep up with the Joneses strive to be famous, wealthy, or work to get people's approval. Even social media plays a role as people post stories on their feeds only to check to see who is liking and commenting. People have ended relationships because someone didn't approve of their posts on their social media feed. People with no hope in Christ only have other sinful, faulty people to place their worth. People who know the Lord know that they don't have to fight for someone’s approval. 

They have all of God's love and acceptance for themselves. John called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” in his Gospel, but we can also claim that we are the disciple whom Jesus loved because he loves all of us equally. In Christ’s world, there are no favorites. There is no class system of rich versus poor. Everyone has an equal footing with the Lord because he died for all of us, one for all. 

I Traded Self-Esteem for God-Esteem

Sigmund Freud developed the concept of self-esteem. This concept is based on the premise that we can feel better about ourselves based on someone's approval, or in our accomplishments. However, when I traded my self-esteem for God’s approval, I realized I didn't have to clamor for God's attention or approval. I already had it. No longer did I have to rely on self-esteem, which increases or decreases based on life’s circumstances. Instead, when the world becomes too difficult to bear and I'm going through a dark season of life, I know I already have God's unconditional love and grace. 

I Loved Myself More by Loving Others

The Bible contains verses about loving others. For example, Matthew talks about loving your neighbor as yourself. This verse means when I love others, I can love myself. I understand what love is when I love other people. When I sacrifice and serve others, I increase love for myself. These become identity issues when we’re focused on others rather than on myself. Jesus gave us the antidote for narcissism and individualism: to serve and love others and sacrifice ourselves. Whether volunteering in my local church body, community events, or mentoring others, I demonstrate my love for myself by how much I love other people. We are blessed when we serve others. We serve and sacrifice ourselves on behalf of others. When we choose to do those things regularly, we increase the love we have for ourselves. Therefore, we don't have to worry about what others think of us because we know we are fulfilling our God-given purpose by serving and ultimately loving others. 

Ephesians 5:23 speaks of this when it says, “A husband loves his wife as he does his own body.” A husband can have difficulty loving his wife if he doesn't love himself. In the same way, it is difficult to love ourselves when we don't love others. When we treat others with disdain, it’s simply a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. When we resolve our own pain, cast our burdens on God, and love and sacrifice for others, God blesses us and gives us a love for ourselves that is unrivaled with anything in life.

Our identity is the core of our being. However, Jesus answers our question of identity when he settles our worth on the cross. His death and resurrection proved that we are worth loving. When we choose to put our hope in God and understand his great and unconditional love for us, we can kick our identity issues to the curb as well. 

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Ben-Schonewille

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website