Identity Thief

Sunday, December 8, 2013

At some point in time it seems that many people struggle with identifying who they are and why they are on this earth. The most common question I hear from others I talk to who are hurting or lost is, "Why did God make me? Why am I here and what is my purpose?" It is OK to ask those things. God wants us to know who we are and why we are here but a lot of times this question becomes our main focus in life, which can be time consuming and stressful.

My identity struggle has been a lifelong issue that I can truthfully say is no longer a struggle anymore. It's been a long and dark road, one that I wish didn't take so long, but now I am excited to stand and say, "I know who I am. Who are you?"

I went through phases of my identity struggle which I'd like to share with you. Each phase posed a new question or struggle or even a doubt when I was sure I had gotten past this issue. The enemy wants to attack our identity. He doesn't want us to know who we are, but we don't have to let him win this fight.

My struggle with identity began before I was even born. It doesn't sound possible but how we are brought into this world and who is surrounding us can make a big difference on how we view ourselves from the start. My biological father had left my mother at a movie theater when she was six months pregnant with me. As devastating as it sounds for me, it was much worse at the time for her. This began phase one for me.

Phase 1: I'm not good enough.

It's not often that I don't hear of someone saying they've never struggled with this phase of identity, even if just for a moment. When my biological father left me the seed of abandonment was planted in my heart. It took root as I told myself, "I wasn't good enough as a daughter for him to love. I wasn't good enough with my behavior, etc." 

I went through many years of this phase, from being just a child to my teenage years. Instead of focusing on who I was/am in Christ and developing those characteristics I put myself down on a daily basis and would criticize everything I did.

Megan, your writing isn't good enough. Your body isn't good enough. Your smile isn't pretty. You are so loud, you annoy everyone.

These damaging thoughts rooted in my spirit and it took a lot of prayer and counseling to rid myself of them.

Let me be gentle in my words with this next sentence. We are not good enough. It is through Christ that we are made new and through Christ that we can do anything good that we have done. 2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 

God is not blind to our weaknesses or our struggles and part of knowing who we are is being OK with not being good enough. When you realize that you are weak and that it is through Christ and His grace that you are able to be anything near good you let go of that "I am not good enough mindset."

This quote by Patrick Rothfuss sums up what I feel with this phase.

“It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

When we tell ourselves over and over that we are not good enough to do anything then we lie to ourselves and prevent ourselves from reaching our full potential. Not just that, but from what we read int his quote we are literally birthing our own story into reality through these thoughts and words. What we should be saying is, "I know I'm not good enough by myself but with Christ, who perfects His power in me in my weakness, I can be a good mom, daughter, artist, etc. 

Within this first phase destructive habits were born. As a teenager I did a lot of self-harm things that I shouldn't have. I began throwing up all my food thinking I wasn't good looking or skinny enough, I would date men to gain attention because I was loved starved from the other male figures in my life, I even drank occasionally to drown out the pain of not feeling good enough. These things had taken root and while some would go away others got worse in phase 2.

Phase 2: Why can't I just be someone else? 

This was one of my most destructive phases. While I did start some bad behaviors and habits in the previous phase those habits became a whole new level of unhealthy in this phase. From later teens (about 19) until I was about 23 I was a self-hating woman who did anything and everything to change who I was so that I could just be someone else.

I really struggled with accepting myself. I thought everyone else wanted me to change (and honestly I'm sure some did) and so instead of working through that I just tried to be someone else. I'm naturally loud, so I wanted to be quiet. I'm outgoing, so I tried to be shy. Everyone seemed to like blondes, so I dyed my hair.

It was a never ending cycle of "who would Megan be today?" I had a serious eating disorder, couldn't figure out which clothes were my style and at times would drink myself into a non-remembering state. I didn't want to be who I was because everyone around me seem to find something wrong with me, even if it was just something minor.

Within a year or so of this lifestyle I was a completely different person. At one point when I was younger I was compassionate and kind hearted. I had a love of people and a desire to be relational. Within this phase I lost all of that. I was mean. I cursed worse than many sailors and my love for the Lord dwindled because I decided that if I couldn't give my entire life and heart I shouldn't give it at all. I was becoming a product of what I thought others wanted and thought of me, and ultimately becoming truly unhappy.

A quote that reminds me of this is: “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

While I think we can obtain traits from others around us I was beginning to feel like the things that made me unique were being shoved down deep inside. I could barely pull them out. I felt like a person who was drowning in an open sea. Nothing but water surrounding me. I could hear the Lord saying, "STAND UP. I am your sandbar!" But I couldn't.

It took counseling to get me out of this phase. I had to finally look deep into scripture and also at my heart to learn that God had created me uniquely to be just who I was (flaws and all) because He needed me to do something unique for His kingdom. For those who may be in this phase. You don't need to be. God loves you for all your uniqueness and if others have trouble accepting it, they may not be someone you want in your inner circle.

These two phases were my biggest struggle areas. After phase two I said, "Enough is enough," and really dealt with my identity issue. I leaned on scripture and wise counsel to help me through and to finally learn who I was. So, you ask, how do I know who I am?

How do I know who I am?

The first big piece of my missing puzzle was to understand that God created me in His image (Genesis 1:27). This was important to know because it made me understand that anytime I insulted myself, I truly was insulting my savior and my creator. How would you feel if a child you bore said, "I hate what you created?" Not fun.

I also needed to truly grasp that my uniqueness was purposely created by God and that God was not unaware of my gifts and my weaknesses. (Jeremiah 1:5).

Lastly I needed to know that it was a daily choice to encourage my own thought life in accepting who I was (Ephesians 4:22-24) and that I needed to be bold and say, "Meg, you are beautiful. You are wonderfully made, you are His." The words began to seep into my spirit and slowly over the course of two years I began to truthfully believe those things about myself.

Lastly, how do I stand firm in this truth?

I've shared a lot. But if I could leave you with one piece of experience I would with this. The enemy does NOT want you to know who you are. He does NOT want you to be confident in the roles that God has given you.

Last year was my first serious test of standing firm in my identity. The enemy attacked me from all sides (even using my children) to try and tear me down. In a custody battle with my ex-husband for our daughter Kaidance every inch of who I was was torn into. It was both embarrassing at times but mostly humbling to know where God had brought me.

There were also things that happened in my marriage and the enemy used those situations to try and PULL me back into previous phases. "See, you are better off being like so and so," or the age old, "You just weren't ever good enough Megan."

At times it was very daunting. Very tiring but I stood firm. I stood firm and held to the promise that God would use me just as I was if I would only allow him to help me walk through it.

I did. Today I stand more confident in who I am then I've ever been before. I'm accepting the things I know are my personality and working on things I know I can change to better myself and the talents God has given me.

"Freedom lies in being bold," Robert Frost.

You want to be free from identity issues? Be bold and be yourself. Make a list of things that make you unique, who you are, scriptures that support your walk and identity in Christ. Start there. I know I am loud, crazy, unafraid to talk to anyone, a go-getter. I love deeply. I hurt deeply. I am compassionate and have a servants heart. I am a natural born leader, spontaneous, and not afraid of conflict.

These days my list of things I love about myself outweighs the things I dislike 100 to 1. It's incredibly freeing to love yourself for who God created you to be. Try it.

Be blessed,


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