I went to a small Christian university about an hour and a half southwest of Charlotte, NC. It was nestled deep in the heart of a one-stoplight town between the World's Smallest Post Office and a coffee shop that made chai lattes straight from Heaven.
It was the kind of place where everybody knew everybody — and even if you didn't want them to — everybody knew you and your business.
Can you picture it?
For the four years I was there, I ran Cross Country and Track & Field. Like most colleges — especially the small ones — athletes sort of flocked together in this weird, semi-incestuous circle. Most of my friends were my teammates or people I brushed shoulders with in the athletic training rooms. And even though none of us actually wore nametags or label, it was almost as if we did.
Whether it was our sweats, our weird schedules or team apparel — you could look at most every athlete and know they belonged to one of our university's teams.
Without even stopping to ask who we were or what we were about, our identities were carved in from the moment we arrived on campus as freshman for the dreaded late-August physicals: ATHLETE.
We were athletes. We jumped high, ran fast, swam long and threw far. We missed classes more frequently than non-athletes because of travel days — and sometimes, people thought we received preferential treatment from professors and university officials. Though I never experienced any sort of preferred treatment — it's interesting to think about how my identity as an athlete put me in the bucket.
Life can be like this sometimes, can't it?
Many times our identities are set before us in ways that sometimes seem unfair or out of our control. It's done by others to us — but it's also done by ourselves to us. Our perception of our identity can be skewed by lies we believe about ourselves.
If this sounds like you — below are three lies you may be believing about your identity.
1. You are what you've done.
It's not surprising that we believe this lie, right? Make one mistake in the wrong circle of friends and you will be forever labeled as the girl who (insert offense).
The truth? You are not what you've done. Not the questionable things, not the definitively awful things. You're not your mistakes or the damage they may've caused. You are not the sum of your actions or the deficit of your lacking.
In Jesus' name, those bad things? They're nailed to the cross and gone for good. In Jesus' name, those bad things? They're not too bad for God's grace.
Your junk is covered. Your mess is forgiven. Everything that's piled up in your "Things I May Not Want to Disclose on a First Date" column? You are so much more than all of it.
2. You are what's been done to you.
Let's just cut to the chase here, amen? Someof us have been through the ringer. Some of us have been dealt hands that would make the most decorated poker players shudder. Some of us have stories that would make others of us blush, squeal and sob.
We do life with people who identify as the girl who was sexually abused as a child, the girl who got cheated on, the girl who was dumped or the girl who was fired. In fact — chances are that someone close to you has taken what has happened to her and let it define her.
The truth here is simple to state by so incredibly difficult to live out: Your ability to identify as a victim of someone's actions DOES NOT dictate who you are. Something that's happened to you — whether by mistake, by careful calculation or by complete chance — does not have to become to box you mentally stuff yourself into.
There is healing to be had, wholeness to be restored and a God-given identity FULL OF FREEDOM to be claimed in victory.
You are not the things you've endured. You are not the things that've happened to you. You are not someone's victim, you are not someone's scapegoat and you are not someone's ragdoll.
3. You (or things) will always be this way.
In 2016 when I was in the nasty, thick middle of a battle with disordered anxiety and panic, one of the biggest and most damaging lies I believed was that my situation would never change. In some of my hardest moments — on the darkest nights — I was able to convince myself that "this" was just how life would be from now on and I'd go on living staving off panic attack after panic attack. Eventually, I thought, this would feel normal. I will get used to this.
You won't find this explicitly stated in the Bible, but I believe one of the Enemy's greatest deceptions is to trick us into believing that we are too broken to be redeemed, too far gone to ever be rescued.
Your identity? It's not determined by your circumstance. This means it's not a feeling, not a status, not a diagnosis and not a character trait. You are not forever or eternally the anxious girl or the single girl or the sick girl or the sarcastic girl.
You are not defined by your life stage, your current hand of cards or a prevailing characteristic.
You, my friend, are a Daughter of the King. In Jesus, you are a cherished heiress of the heavenly realms and in His precious name — you are made entirely and beautifully NEW.
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