Affirmation, Identity, Identity Am I Enough

Identity: Am I Enough?

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Last week, I shared a few thoughts about things that molded my identity. I borrowed the analogy of gold stars and gray dots from Max Lucado’s children’s book, You Are Special.

When I chased after the gold stars, the question, “Am I enough?” dominated my thoughts.

Am I worthy enough to receive recognition? Am I good enough to be on the worship team? And once I “made it” onto the worship team, Am I good enough to be offered a solo? Am I enough to become friends with so-and-so?

Am I enough?

When I wasn’t “enough,” the gray dots adhered to my vulnerable skin, de-scabbing wounds. When someone rejected an offer of friendship, when I didn’t get offered that lead solo, when I wasn’t invited to a get-together.

Intentionally given or not, all those gray dots hurt.

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The need—the craving—for the gold stars was never truly sated. Even when I “was enough,” I doubted it, deep inside.

One day, frustrated over something that happened at church, I talked to God, pouring out my frustration. Then the question came, almost audible:

Am I enough?

“Of course You are, Lord.” I lied.

He was silent. I thought about how hard I’d worked to feel accepted in our church. I craved deeper friendships. I didn’t understand why God hindered these.

After a few minutes I confessed to Him the discrepancy between what I said and what my heart believed.

Acceptance by others + God = Enough.

I had to come to the point of admitting God was the only One who was truly enough. He was the only One who could satisfy that longing for significance deep inside.

Here are a few things that helped re-shape my identity, aligning it with how Jesus sees me:

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Zephaniah 3:17
  1. I studied what God’s word says about me (and all His kids): He delights in me. He rejoices over me with singing and quiets me with His love (Zeph 3:17). He has a perfect plan for me, and it is a good plan (Jer 29:11).
  2. I explored what the Bible says about thoughts. Each day, I ask God to conform my thoughts to what His are, especially when I am tempted to seek affirmation from people (See Philippians 4:8).
  3. I re-trained my thoughts, often reminding myself that God is enough. Whether He gives me things I think I need or not, He is enough. What He supplies is enough. When I begin to worry about how people might be thinking about me, I remind myself how God sees me.In His eyes, I am just who He’s created me to be.
  4. I have a couple friends I talk very honestly with. When I slip into seeking people’s affirmation over God’s, they set me straight. When I struggle with the rejection issues that crop up, they remind me of God’s truths and how He views me.

As I seek to find my identity in how God sees me, how He thinks of me, those gold stars and gray dots don’t stick so well anymore.

What about you? What helps you not get caught up in affirming your identity in the wrong place? How do you keep an accurate perspective about your identity?

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16 thoughts on “Identity: Am I Enough?”

  1. Interesting synergy here – I was just thinking about an upcoming blog post of my own, on the proliferation of tattoos and ‘attitude’ t-shirts.

    The question of “am I enough” may have been given more urgency by the diminishing control we have over our lives, and the perception that we really can’t understand the world.

    Take writing…when I started I used a manual Royal, and then an IBM Selectric. Both were at least broadly understandable to a reasonably adept layman. But how many people really understand the computers on which they now write, or the software? I used to write some pretty robust structural-analysis software, and can understand how Excel works…but Word is beyond me.

    Same with our cars. You don’t try to fix a modern car yourself. You just don’t.

    Perhaps the lack of control diminishes us, and many resort to finding an identity by becoming walking billboards…for toughness, or for other attributes that they feel they are losing, as they feel they are being subsumed by an incomprehensible world.

    Unfortunately, finding an identity through a relationship with the Almighty is seen, in many circles, as being a spectacularly wimpy escape from the question. The scoffers and cynics have loud voices, and bear much (too much) influence, but their attitude is based on ignorance of the most basic tenets of Christianity. (You mean Christ was tortured to death? Really?)

    The only real identity we can find is through and with God. Anything else is ridiculous posturing, and life becomes “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

    That log-ago English teacher who made me memorize Shakespearean tags may have been right, after all!

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    1. Andrew, I’m chuckling that our blog posts have such similarities. 🙂 I hadn’t thought about the fact that a loss of control may cause people to strive harder to find an identity for themselves—toughness, or something else. You’re right too, in that finding an identity in God is mocked today. I think it takes a greater strength of character to seek to live a life based on how God sees us rather than on how others think we should live it. Living in the affirmation of the Almighty welcomes criticism but gifts us with freedom.

      I appreciate your thoughts today. You got me thinking. Again. 🙂

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  2. I was struggling with doing a certain job well, because lurking in the shadows of ‘now’ was the demon of ‘when’. I asked the director of the mission team, point blank, if I was doing the job well enough. “Yes, you are, and far better than you think.” Then later, in an email, he said “You need to start looking at Jennifer through the eyes of Jesus, not through the eyes of the girl in the mirror. Only then will you realize the value He puts in you. THEN you will see the girl He sees. And then you will understand your worth.”

    BAM!!

    That totally changed my view of myself. I pictured Jesus on the cross, looking down at un-worthy me. He was dying, but He whispered, “You are worth this.”

    Now I understand that He is enough for me.Simply because of the power of the resurrection. I was enough to Him that He died for me. He is enough for me, because the King of Heaven and Earth came back from death and said “Whatever comes your way, I can handle it, I can deal with it. I am enough to defeat death, I can defeat your worries and hurts, too.”

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  3. I have to ask myself periodically “do you really want to be in charge?” Then I remember how blessed I am that I don’t have to take on the task of ruling my universe. I’m glad I’m not enough in myself, or that anyone or anything in my life isn’t enough. I would certainly crack under the pressure, and God does a fine job without my help.

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    1. Great thoughts, Jan. I’m with you. I do NOT want to be in charge. 🙂 Even though I have a tendency to live my life like I’m the one in control, I remember that I am not my own, and nothing I possess truly belongs to me. 🙂 I did a Bible study a few years ago that challenged me to take “My” and “mine” out of my vocabulary. It’s been an interesting mind shift as I’ve done this. Thank goodness God is big enough to handle all that comes our way, eh? 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  4. Over and over again, I have to tell myself that I don’t have control of my life. My reaction to circumstances, yes. But the circumstances themselves? No. Because to me, being in control is part of that identity of being enough. Of achieving. Of doing until I “make it.” But the biggest change I’ve made to my thoughts in the last few years is to give it up to God and rely on His timing. To say, “God, I know you’ve got this.” He knows when things will happen, or if they will. But just because I don’t achieve what I want to WHEN I want to doesn’t mean I’m not enough. It simply means God has something else for me.

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    1. Great thoughts, Lindsay. And I loved this line: “But just because I don’t achieve what I want to WHEN I want to doesn’t mean I’m not enough. It simply means God has something else for me.”

      Such a great perspective. It’s not about doing so much as about being. Being in the place God wants us to be, and choosing contentment there.

      Thanks so much for stopping by today!

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  5. Wow! Great thoughts here, Jeanne. I think this is something that is so universal. Where do we get our identity? Our worth? We feel most vulnerable to insecurities when our aim is off the true mark. When those fears creep in, when I start to feel myself slipping into the comparison trap, I know I have lost my focus. Because Christ died for ME. I am enough. Flaws and all. It’s a great reminder. Did you see that video clip I posted on Facebook yesterday. This is so similar. And man, it was so powerful it moved me to tears. Three times. Worth your time if you missed it. Thanks for this! Hugs!

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    1. Amy, so glad you shared your thoughts. Yes, when I compare myself (always my worst) to others (always their best), I end up feeling defeated and worthless. My eyes need to be on Jesus, and remembering all He’s given me. Because He. Loves. Me.

      I missed that video. Going to check it out now.

      Thanks for stopping by!!

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  6. Jeanne, those are powerful tools! For most of the year, I have read the Bible to answer the questions: what is true about me? what does God say about me? What does God say about me and Him…together? It has been a powerful journey. Not over yet. I’ve sure been overpowered by His kindness and His love for me….even in His strongest corrections.

    Love you, dear!

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  7. Thank you. Thank you for this post (and the one before it). You just read my inner thoughts and struggles, and wrote the truth so well. Thank you.

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    1. I’m so glad these words spoke to you. I’m still learning how to walk them out. 🙂 May we both walk in the truth that we are enough for what God calls us to, and because we belong to Him. 🙂

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