I've always known that I would be a teacher. Ever since first grade when the beautiful Mrs. Shade taught me to become a better reader, and in second grade when Mrs. Munday read aloud to us from Bunnicula, I knew that someday that would be my job. In my first year as a second grade teacher I wondered, what have I done? Will I ever be a good teacher? Why did I choose this profession? Every day I wondered if the parents were thinking what an impostor I was. Gradually over many years I began to build my skill set as a teacher. My confidence grew as I engaged in professional learning communities with amazing veteran teachers and I completed a masters degree of my own.
When I became a wife, I had similar doubts. Am I a good wife? Is my husband happy? Will I be able to meet his expectations? As I grew to know my husband better and understand how to communicate with him, I felt after nine years that things were going pretty well. When I found out that I was completely wrong and that my husband was leaving, I wondered what had gone wrong? I analyzed everything that I had done and said, and could not pinpoint the cause of his sudden departure.
After our divorce, I was even more unsure about who I was. My teacher identity lived on, but when I was no longer a wife I couldn't see a way forward alone. I didn't even know what I liked. Do I like the Packers, really? Do I like the towels folded this way? Is this the toothpaste that I would choose? So many silly things, but so embedded in my identity as a wife, I was completely lost and felt that I would never understand myself again.
Over the past five years God has helped me to understand who I am as His daughter. His friend. Beloved. Adopted. A joint-heir. Complete in Him. Redeemed and revived. Seeing myself in these roles has not been easy, but it has been completely worth the investment of time and prayer. I continue on this path to see myself the way that God does. (More on this later!)
As I embarked on the quest for a new identity as a writer, I headed to Portland to see what I could find out about this new world of writing and publishing. And again, I struggled with heavy doubts. Is this really something I should pursue? What if I'm not good at this? Maybe I was wrong, and God isn't calling me to write? If I try this and it doesn't work out, will I be able to handle more rejection? Thankfully, all of these doubts are easily answered by God. When He leads you someplace, He will take care of everything. The step-by-step guidance, the confirmation of your path, the ability to do it, and the recovery from possible rejection. None of these are reasons to doubt where God has led.
Satan is the one who has been causing us to doubt God ever since Adam and Eve were in the garden.
Genesis 3:1: Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?" (ESV)
Did God really say that? Does God really mean that? Are you sure that God has really asked you to do this? Whatever you intend to do for God, Satan will continue to whisper doubts and fears into your ear. He will continue to seek and destroy and devour you if you aren't secure in your identity.
At the Rio Olympics, nothing stood out to me more than the diving duo Steele Johnson and David Boudia. After winning an Olympic silver medal in the Synchronized 10m Platform Diving event, they testified regarding their solid identities in Christ. Boudia states:
“Yeah, I just think the past week, there’s just been an enormous amount of pressure, and I've felt it. You know, it's just an identity crisis. When my mind is on this [diving], thinking I'm defined by this, then my mind goes crazy, but we both know our identity is in Christ."
"The fact that I was going into this event knowing that my identity is rooted in Christ and not what the result of this competition is just gave me peace."
Olympic athletes are identified by their sport, but Johnson and Boudia can see that no matter what happens in diving, they are firmly rooted in Christ. An identity that cannot be changed or diminished. We are not defined by our earthly identities- no matter how strong or pervasive they may be.
Every identity that you cultivate in this life is going to be challenged. Are you the best mom? Are you the wife of the year? Are you the best teacher with the best back to school decorations? Does everyone at work look at you and marvel? Are you pursuing new identities that God has led you to? Every day you doubt your place. Every day Satan attacks the identities that you place the most emphasis on. We know the only secure identity is our identity in Christ. He never changes, and our identity in Him cannot be challenged.