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Looking for identity in broken places

2nd in a series on identity A soul under pressure goes looking for safety in what are often broken places. We look for release in relationships, jobs, hobbies, video games, and sports among other activities. And we begin to define ourselves according to the things we do….
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

2nd in a series on identity
A soul under pressure goes looking for safety in what are often broken places.
We look for release in relationships, jobs, hobbies, video games, and
sports among other activities. And we begin to define ourselves according to the things we do.
Have you done this? Have you found yourself looking to the opinions of others to validate your sense of self-worth? It’s normal – we all do it.

But it’s not a legitimate source of identity. The applause of people
may feel like a source of validation. Yet anything we do to earn it – good
grades, trophies and titles – at best generate a temporary boost in our
sense of well-being. But our performance is not us, the applause
we hear is for the performance, not for who we are as people. It’s for the false self that we’ve become.

It may work for a while, but the false self is tyrant, always craving more, never feeling safe, never feeding our soul. And failing to find a sense of safety, our soul may feel cast adrift and
may settle on any of a number of coping behaviors in its search for a
safe place: addiction,
neurosis, cutting, eating disorders, pornography, and worse.

So what started out as a very normal search for safety can land us in a
far place,
estranged from ourselves, wondering how we got there, without a clue how
to get back. We never asked to be abused, never wanted to fall in with
rotten crowd that gave us bad advice. We didn’t understand the
treacherous waters we were navigating – we were just looking for a safe harbor to dock our soul’s boat.

The truth is, we need help getting to safety. It’s a cruel world with precious few maps to navigate by. We may not even be aware of the false self we’ve taken on.
The ego props may seem like such a natural part of our identity that we no
longer recognize ourselves. Like Eustace in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of
the Dawn
, we acquire a layer of dragon skin and can’t even see it.
At some point, all of us need to take a closer look at our search
for identity. Have you found a safe place? Have you sought the approval
of men and settled for something counterfeit? Is the persona that you
let others see the real you, or is it a false self?
As God said to Jonah, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”* If you want grace, better to come clean with God now. All of us want and
deserve to be loved for who we really are. It’s a good day to raise the issue with a friend and start talking about it.
For an example of someone working through her identity issues from a biblical perspective, here’s a good blog.

Comments (5)

  • I think the sobbing that overcame me two days ago was as another layer of false identity fell away…the past year has been difficult, but that is to be expected as layers of protective nonsense, or perhaps excuses, fall away.

    God is holding my hand as I step out and truly live like I believe I am His daughter and a DIVA to boot: Divinely Chosen, Inspiring, Valued and Amazing.

    Thanks for the safe place to share.

  • broken places for individuals are lonely & terrifying. When you find it in a nation it’s horrifying. i am walking the streets of manila saddened that such a beautiful people live in such desperate circumstance. outside the poverty is a diseased culture; one that finds exploitation, sexual depravity & stealing to be norm. older white western men with ladies & girls young enough to be their grandchildren wander openly in the street. males of all ages try to sell you dodgy ripped off merchandise as well as drugs & girls. this disease may not have come in from the western nations but it is the white older men i see fueling it.
    Pray to our Father in heaven who lovingly created these people as he did you and i. get involved in organisations who wish to stop this sickness.let them feel the LOVE you and i get to share. they have BEAUTY, they have VALUE, they are also children of GOD.

  • Another one of those lifelong tasks. So many times I have believed I am totally honest and open before God, asking Him to see into me, to know me. Then further down the line He uncovers another place in me that was there through those times, but needs to be given up to His light, to His healing and correction.

    Used to think brokenness would heal once and for all but it doesn’t. Like shards of broken stained glass around me on the floor, the Master Craftsman is picking them all up, placing them in the new window. There will come a time when that picture is complete and it will surprise me with what it looks like and how much beautiful the finished work is than I could ever have hoped. But in the meantime, He does a lot with that brokenness. He heals other people with it as well as putting me back together piece by piece.

    If I saw all of the brokenness in me at once, I think I would go crazy and give up. Dragon skin often needs taking off slowly, layer by layer. At least, like restoring an oil painting, the picture is already there underneath, made by His redeeming hand. It’s just a case of getting the layers off carefully that obscure it. Good to keep going, one surrender at a time followed by another and another. PIece by piece He will make us whole.

  • Amazing Seth. I’ve been someone other than who I am for so long that I no longer know who I am. Then I thought, maybe who I am is REALLY who I am. That is, until I realize this person was built out of fear of rejection, the need for acceptance and the opinions of others; both positive and negative.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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