Who are you?
Often in the counseling office, I will ask people “Who do you see yourself as in this life?” I will hear people say something along the lines of “I just don’t know who I am” or “I just feel lost.” Sometimes, they do not even see an issue with that answer. They settle into the “I am apathetic towards everything therefore I do not have to figure it out” state of mind. What this leads to is a lifestyle that reflects their belief. If we do not know who we are then we will act accordingly. If we act accordingly, then our actions are carried out with little purpose and judgment, which leads to a bottomless spiral of self-indulgence, self-hatred, self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.
Recently, a counselee who was struggling with this made the connection by stating “I have realized that when I am too self-reliant it leads to a lack of confidence when I fail, then that leaves me frustrated, which leaves me disappointed and depressed. Then I tend to isolate myself which only leads to more self-indulgence and sin that I feel an incredible amount of guilt over. It is a cycle from which I cannot escape.” So what is the core issue here? Even though our environment and outward influences from the past and present have some impact, they can never force us into this lifestyle. Remember, Satan did not force Adam and Eve to eat the fruit, that was a choice of their heart in response to the outward pressure. Our surroundings and situations can make us miserable, but they cannot make us sin. So if that is not the core issue, then what is it?
At the foundation, it is an identity problem. Think of David when he sinned with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. He did not have a moment of weakness, he had a moment where he forgot who he was. Instead of a man after God’s own heart who had been given everything by God, he was a king who did not have everything he wanted and thought he deserved more. What did this lead to? A long bout of irritability and darkness for David and eventually the death of his son and judgment on his household.
When someone is struggling with an identity crisis in their life, what should they do? Isaiah 43 is a great start. It is one of those passages that can be so overused that the gravitas of the central message can be missed. Going back to my counselee, I asked him how do you think God sees you? The answer is almost always “He’s probably doesn’t want anything to do with me.” Isaiah 43 tells us something different. Words that come from he who created you and he who formed you state, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Remember who God is speaking to in this passage. He is not addressing an accomplished perfect people who have loved him perfectly. He is addressing a rebellious and idolatrous people in the midst of the consequences of their sin. God tells us, you who have deemed yourself unworthy, I have redeemed you and renamed you. You who say you are captured, I have freed you. You who say you are worthless, I have given peoples in exchange for you. Why does God do this? Verse 4 says “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…” There is nothing we can do to deserve this message from God. It is all on the basis of his grace alone. We see here that God views us better than we view ourselves.
So I ask you now, who do you think you are? The homework that is usually paired with this passage is to work your way through it and identify all of the truth statements (“You are mine,” “I will be with you,” “you are precious in my eyes,” “Behold I am doing a new thing,” etc.) and then compare them with the lies that you have been believing (“I am nothing,” “God doesn’t care,” “I will never get better”). Once you have on paper the truth and the lies, it becomes clear where the core issue lies. It lies in our own longing to be God of our own lives and make our own decisions pursuing our own passions compared to the grace that God has given to us seeing that it is sufficient for our weakness. It is our weakness that actually reminds us who we are, creatures in need of a Creator’s guidance and comfort.
In this passage, we see the absolute necessity of remembering who we are and who God is. If the foundation of our belief is misunderstood because of a lie that we have been believing about ourselves we will never understand our lives, purpose, or our God, which will make our lives an endless spiral of self-doubt.