As Christian women, we know we are supposed to find our identity in Christ, not our activities or our job or our children. But how do we do this when the demands of life take over? In this article, Susan Macias encourages us to find hope in our identity in Jesus no matter what season we find ourselves in, and lean into the truths that we are heard, seen, and wanted by our Savior.
Years ago, when all the kids were still at home, I remember staring into the mirror. A woman blinked back at me. She looked familiar, but I wasn’t sure I knew her anymore.
Where did I go? Somewhere between spilled milk, school projects, flat tires, and unpaid bills, I became disconnected from my identity in Christ. Like a boat no longer moored to the dock, I drifted, subject to whatever current pulled the strongest. I met the loudest need and put out the hottest fire. I made dinner and started the laundry—again. And I looked for Jesus amongst the dirty dishes and reminded myself to be thankful. But the feeling that I couldn’t be enough or do enough hovered over me like a rain cloud.
Who was I?
As a Christian, I knew I was supposed to find my identity in Christ, not my activities or my job or my children. I knew I should feel thankful, joyful, and hopeful. And I wanted to, I just couldn’t recall what those emotions felt like. I felt guilty for not responding as I knew I should. Maybe if I went to Bible study or memorized more Bible verses I could remember who Jesus said I was?
Does any of this ring true to you? How do we juggle the roles of Christian woman, mom, wife, worker, volunteer, and more while also maintaining our identity in Christ?
A SECRET FROM THE OTHER SIDE
If you were at my house I would offer you a hug, pour you some warm tea, and tell you to put your feet up. I’m in a season now where I’m looking back on those days I just described. Now, it’s just my husband and I dirtying clothes and leaving messes in the kitchen. The load of work has lightened considerably.
So, you might think I no longer have trouble keeping my spirit centered in Jesus. It should be easier now for me to find hope in the identity He gives me, right? I too assumed that once life slowed down, I would emerge again. But here’s a secret from the other side of the hill. Life never slows down, even when the immediacy of the demands decreases.
I wish I could tell that tired mom blinking back from the mirror that her identity didn’t exist on the other side of her family’s needs. It wouldn’t emerge once she had less to do. No, my truest and most permanent person existed at that moment, in the middle of the maelstrom of life. That’s because my true identity is found in Jesus, who stays with me in the storm.
That means that right now—amidst all the directions you’re pulled—you can find hope in your identity in Jesus. This understanding will not only keep you from drifting, but it will also foster hope and provide an unshakeable foundation.
IS MY IDENTITY IN CHRIST?
I adore the “Chronicles of Narnia,” and one of my favorite tales in the series speaks directly to identity.
In “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” Eustace has unwillingly landed in Narnia. Unable to see anyone’s needs but his own, he makes a general nuisance of himself. One day, while the group is exploring an island, he wanders off and discovers a dragon’s cave. Slipping a gold bracelet around his arm, he falls asleep. But when he awakes he has become a dragon. All of his bad choices crash on his head, and he desires nothing more than to simply be a boy again.
There doesn’t seem to be a solution to his predicament. That is, until he meets Aslan. Late one night, the lion takes him to a pool and tells him to undress to take a swim. Being a dragon, he had no clothes, but he thought maybe peeling off the skin was what Aslan meant. He tried once and some came off, but he was still a dragon. He tried again and again. While he could remove a thin layer, he could never completely change himself.
Then Aslan approached, extended a great claw, and cut all the way through, removing all of the dragon and leaving only the little boy. Once he removed the ugly exterior, Aslan threw him into the pool. The process hurt like fire, but the water healed the boy. And when Eustace emerged from the pool, Aslan dressed him.
DRESSED IN CHRIST
By the time we reach the mid-life stage of womanhood, we can easily feel worn out. People may have hurt us, and the resulting wounds can make us bitter. We might have lost our sense of humor and not be able to find ourselves. We wrap layers of self-protection around our hearts. Honestly, we can be rather ‘dragon-ish’, if you will.
We try to do better. But our good intentions look something like Eustace trying to tear away what’s wrong, one tiny layer at a time. Jesus wants to cut through the lies we believe and remove the false identities we hold to. He wants to wash us and clothe us in His beautiful provision.
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).
The truth of the gospel cuts away the old and washes me clean. And when I wear what Jesus provides, my personal identity no longer needs to come from what I accomplish. Instead it comes from the glorious gifts of my Savior. I am freed from searching for confirmation that my life is meaningful. My meaning comes from who Jesus says I am. Hope flows from the resurrected life Jesus offers.
IN JESUS I AM HEARD, SEEN, AND WANTED
Because of who the Bible tells me I am in Jesus, my hope can be solid, or “sure and steady” as Hebrews 6:19 describes it. Below are a few pieces of that identity in Christ to get you started, though the Bible holds a treasure trove of so much more.
1. I am Heard
When we feel unheard, we can also feel unloved. For countless hours I encouraged my kids in their dreams and tried to bolster them over their fears. I tried to be available for my husband too and be a safe place for him.
But in the busyness of family life, I began to pout. Who listened to me? Who asked me how I was doing and then took the time to actually listen if my answer wasn’t, “I’m fine?”
When I finally realized the answer was Jesus, I moved from feeling unheard and undervalued to being amazed that my Creator listened to me.
I am heard. The truth of that identity tore through my bitterness. Psalm 34:17 says, “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Every time I cry to the Lord for help, He hears me.
2. I am Seen
I often thought the only way for my family to realize how much I did every day was just to stop doing everything. Most of my work that maintained our lives was unseen. It’s not that my family was ungrateful; they just didn’t realize all that was required for a family to survive.
We aren’t the first women to feel unseen. In the book of Genesis, Hagar feels abandoned and rejected. But God shows up, and we see recorded one of my favorite Old Testament names for Him. Jehovah El Roi—the God who sees (Genesis 16:13).
I am seen. My Savior observes every small action. He counts every strand of messy hair on my head. As my children morph into adults and their gazes turn to the world beyond, I find my hope in the One whose love never wavers and who never looks away.
“The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; … Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 33:13,18).
3. I am Wanted
We all desire to be wanted—though when our children are little we might occasionally wish they would want someone else. But those years fly, and it seems like overnight the clingy toddler grows into an aloof teenager. It is easy—at that point—to wallow in hurt feelings. Walking through this kind of change with your growing kids is hard and it hurts! I’ve found that if I find my identity in my children, I will inevitably feel abandoned as they grow.
But do you want some good news? Jesus’ desire for relationship with me never wavers. He constantly and consistently wants me.
I am wanted. I am sought out. And I am claimed as His.
“They shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken” (Isaiah 62:12).
OUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST
The most beautiful depiction of our identity in Christ is the story of the prodigal son. If anyone deserved to be unwanted it was him. He’d lost the family fortune and broken his father’s heart. How easy it would have been for the father to refuse him.
But that is not what happens.
While he is still a long way off, the father sees him, runs to him, draws him back into the family, and wraps a beautiful robe around him. Everyone observing the reunion knew that boy was wanted, seen, and heard.
LET’S WEAR OUR IDENTITY
Like Eustace, we need to let Jesus perform surgery on our false identities. And as He removes the ugly identity we’ve picked up from the world, we will find ourselves clean, refreshed, and dressed in His provision. Like the prodigal son, we must run into Jesus’ arms and rejoice as He wraps His glorious identity around us.
We don’t have to hope in our accomplishments, our roles and responsibilities, or how well our kids are doing. Instead we can rest in Jesus and let the Holy Spirit fill us with all we need.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
When we find our identity in Christ and all He provides for us, we can face the future with hope.
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Susan, this is just what I needed this morning! I’m sitting in my quiet house after dropping my youngest two at college this week. I’m looking at a the future and asking all the questions. What now? Who am I anymore? What mark can I make on the world that makes me feel significant? I know my identity is found in Christ, but you put some solid truths in front of me to cling to. Thank you!❤️
Thank you for pointing us back to Jesus, Susan! Only He can cut through the years of my “mistaken identity”and graciously bring us back to remember who we really are in Him.
And these words?
“The process hurt like fire, but the water healed the boy. ”
Thank you for telling the truth about sanctification process. Some days, I would much prefer a bubble bath! (but Jesus knows what I need! 🙂 )
Me, too – a bubble bath. A great picture of who we are and who we are meant to live out, no matter what age or stage.
Thank you for this thoughtful and well-written message. I’ve been an empty-nester for many years. I am now a full-time caregiver for my husband with has ALS, which required me to retire early. Identity in this new season has been a struggle. I am grateful for your authentic perspective for staying grounded in our identity in Christ.