Most of my life I’ve believed a lie.
I’ve believed without a doubt that I’m a loser.
It started early in my life and with the slightest mishap. Events as common as knocking a book off the shelf or not knowing the answer to a question in school served as blatant and frequent reminders of my shortcomings and imperfections.
Since becoming a Christian, I’ve grown in the grace of Christ but the infamous “L” has still marked my identity as a mom, wife, missionary, and friend.
A few years ago I came across the story of a young woman who, like me, was a letdown to herself. Her grandmother advised her to look at her reflection in the mirror each day, take in all the little things she disliked about herself, then speak to the woman there in the mirror. She was to simply say, “I love you.”
This young woman thought it was a ridiculous suggestion but since she had no better ideas, she did. Every day for a year she met herself in the mirror and said, “I love you.”
She explained it as “lying” to herself each day for an entire year. Until one day, when she looked at herself and spoke those words, she realized they were true.
When I read this woman’s story I was saddened to think of the countless girls and women who take this humanistic approach to self-acceptance. Growing comfortable with your identity based on a few narcissistic statements you receive while standing in front of the mirror seems about as solid as quicksand.
Wrong But Deliberate
I certainly need more firm footing than that when facing the depth of my own sin and failure. Nevertheless, this woman’s story convicted me. As humanistic as her approach is, it is deliberate.
In other words, the world has something we as Christians sometimes do not have: intentionality.
This woman’s story prompted me to search for a biblical approach to a healthy identity, one grounded not in mirrors and empty statements but in the gospel of Christ.
I discovered it in Romans 6. In this chapter I not only found permission to think about myself (verse 11) but also instruction on how to think. Biblical thinking involves inwardly evaluating, meditating upon, and coming to a clear and specific conclusion. Far deeper than empty self-talk, biblical thinking gives deliberate consideration to what the blood of Christ purchased on my behalf.
Here I found freedom. My own estimation of myself is not what defines me.
When I take my failure and sin and place them within the context of the cross, I find some amazing footing:
- I am dead to sin. Yes, I am a sinner. Yes, I just blew it big time. Yes, I knock things on the floor and I’m clumsy. But because of the blood of Christ and what he purchased on my behalf, that sin or failure no longer defines me.
- I am alive to God. By his doing, I am created in Christ Jesus for good works. I am chosen and set apart by God for noble, worthy, and holy purposes. This is my identity.
These are truths that, out of sheer necessity, I must intentionally consider. Without them, I am paralyzed by my imperfections.
This past week I was invited to give a presentation at our local U.S. Consulate. I was joined by two other speakers and, truth be known, I was the weakest of the presenters. But instead of feeling inferior, I went into the presentation equipped with 1 Corinthians 1:5 and 30, “In every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge. . . . And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
Standing on such solid truth enabled me to share some of my values as a Christian to a group of people who doubt the very existence of God.
The truth of the gospel enabled me to be the aroma of Christ. This is what I need backing me when I’m shaking in my boots in front of a crowd. It’s the kind of redemption I need when I’ve just blown it with my child. It’s the sort of footing I need to get out of bed each morning and live up to the calling I have in Christ, because no amount of “you’re good enough” statements is convincing enough otherwise.
Only the rock of Christ and the provisions he purchased on my behalf can do that. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!