June 19, 2018
Comfort Zone: Letting Go of Old Identities
Sometimes I like to ask people, “Who are you?” It’s interesting to hear their responses. Some give their name while others give their occupation. Some identify a role they fill in their family or organization. Not many share their real identities—what makes them uniquely them, the individual deep inside with a wonderful and distinctive blend of characteristics.
In my practice, I treated a very interesting woman whose experiences could fill several lifetimes. As we worked together, she was able to free herself from a lesbian lifestyle and enter into a beautiful and enjoyable journey with God. She tells her story this way. “If you had asked me if I was born gay, I would have given you a resounding ‘yes.’ Now, I realize I was not born gay, and I am not defined by the fact that I lived as a homosexual. When I came to God, He redefined me as a woman, wonderfully made to honor Him, by being a follower of Christ.”
We often define ourselves by a lifestyle, a role we play or a personal characteristic. Whether these definitions are joyful or painful, moral or immoral or represent success or failure, they are comfort zones. And even when we come to Jesus, we might be reluctant to let go of some or even most of them.
People who are in or coming from a homosexual lifestyle might consider the gay world a safe place. People caught in a workaholic mode base their worth on their accomplishments and successes. Being a mother, a church leader, an indispensable worker or a good friend allows us to feel more control as we develop our earthly identities. But when we come to Jesus, it is vital to let go of those identities, to die to self and come to recognize who we are in Christ.
You see, we have only two identity options. Option #1, your identity is based on your own personality and who you are under your own power. Or option #2, your identity comes from who Christ is, what He can do, and what He has already done for you and wants to do in and through you. Then the rest of your life is filled with responses to the option you chose. Option #1 is weak, has many limitations and is weighed down with multiple inadequacies, failures and fears. Option #2 has unlimited power, potential, opportunity and joy. When you look at it that way, the decision, and yes, it is a decision, is a pretty easy choice to make, I would say.
Today, even though you may still be struggling with old habits, be encouraged that you can let go of the old definitions. This doesn’t happen overnight, but it can occur, one step at a time. Know that your most important identity is whether you are in Christ or not (therefore, in yourself). There’s no better time to start making better decisions than today. Take a piece paper and make three columns that are titled “Old Identity,” “New Identity” and “What would I believe differently about myself if I believed I really were this new person?”
Next, write in five elements for your old identity and then do the same for the next two columns. You are a new creation! God has a great plan for your life and He is worthy of your trust. With the empowering of His Holy Spirit, you can fulfill the new identity God has prepared for you! Remember, whether you get your identity from Christ or you build it on your own, it’s your decision, so choose well.
Dear Mighty Creator of Everything, I thank You for transforming me into a new creation when I became a follower of Christ. I still tend to see myself as “the old me.” Please help me to see myself through Your eyes—cleansed and made new. The more I believe it, the more I will practice it, and the more I practice, the more I believe. As I practice, I trust You will continually give me proof that I am a new creation. I want to believe this deep in my heart. Help me remember that no matter what other roles I play in life, my number one identity is always “a follower of Christ.” I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One I follow, Jesus Christ. And all God’s children say AMEN!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” Romans 6:5-12