Who am I?

(Photo: Unsplash/Roxxie Blackham)

Who am I? Have you ever asked yourself that question, or, if someone asked you, I wonder how you would respond? Well, you aren't your name, are you? You could change that by deed poll tonight and you'd still be you in the morning. Neither are you your job, role or gifting. You can lose all of those, also overnight, and you'd still be you the next day.

Who Am I? You aren't your physical you - the bald or blond/auburn haired one with short/long legs. After a very nasty car accident or surgery to remove kidneys or amputate a limb, you would still be you!

So...who am I? How do you define yourself, and does it matter? As a young wife and mum living in Pakistan I struggled with depression. Being a 'missionary' had been a long term goal and it had all come tumbling down. I was left bewildered - if I wasn't a good missionary, then who was I?

It matters very much how we define ourselves. As followers of Jesus seeking His way in a fast changing secular world, knowing who we really are, is everything.

'I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty' (2 Cor 6:18).

If God's desire is that He truly be our Abba Father, then we are, by definition, sons and daughters, adopted by grace and faith into a world wide family. That then answers our question - our identity is as God's sons and daughters - known, cherished, chosen.

Our significance and sense of belonging find their wholeness in this relationship, not in anything that we do or don't do.

Who we are is defined by the love of God and the words He sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17). Our good works and the busyness of our lives say nothing about our identity - only Abba Father speaks to that. New Testament teaching invites us to live as small children, dependent on our Father - secure in His ability to provide and protect, to sustain and comfort us, no matter what life throws at us.

Small children look to their parents to meet all their needs - they know their limitations, and are humble. Living in the moment, a little child does not worry about tomorrow or next week. This is how we are to live our lives. Do not be afraid is written 365 times in the Bible - these words are spoken to us in truth because our God does not lie or tease.

It must be possible to live in peace at all times. However, some of us, in spite of having been adopted by God, still live as orphans, gripped by fear and anxiety, our identities defined by production, performance and admiration, rather than by our Father's loving words - I will never leave you, I love you with an everlasting love, You are the apple of my eye, I am for you and not against you (see Deuteronomy 31:8, Jeremiah 31:3, Deuteronomy 32:10, Romans 8:31).

The orphan heart is jealous and competitive, it strives for approval and is easily offended. It compares itself to others and suffers low self esteem. For those of us who don't truly know the love of God, our sense of worth is dictated by the opinions of others. The list goes on and on.

But Jesus tenderly reassures us, 'I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you' (John 14:18), for you see we are now no longer orphans, lost and broken, alone and without hope. We are God's beloved adopted sons and daughters, and at last, we have come home.

Lucinda Smith is author of The Red Thread, a book exploring what it looks like for us to truly live as sons and daughters of God, instead of having orphan hearts.