Finding Peace

In today’s culture you hear the word “identity” a lot. People are searching for their identity. I’ve noticed it is becoming relatively common for someone to put (she/her) after their name on social media so that you know what gender pronouns they are identifying as. Some people deny their chromosomal identity and choose to identify as a different gender. Some put their identity in their political party. This time of year specifically a lot of people search for their identity in material possessions. Christmas gifts consisting of the latest Apple Watch, the must-have pair of shoes, and that designer winter jacket.  It is easy to get tricked into thinking that designer clothes, a fancy home, the latest tech, and a new car give you an identity of importance and make you feel like someone who matters. We look from left to right searching for identity, coveting what others have, thinking if it brings them “peace” it will bring us peace too.

“If I just change my hair color, have a flat tummy, and add a few tattoos I’ll feel better,” we think.

“If only I had clear skin.”

“If I just do this or if I just get that then my soul will be satisfied and peace will reign in my heart,” we grumble so easily.

The search for one’s identity starts at an early age. Working with youth, particularly middle-schoolers, this is extremely evident to me. Flashing back to my own time in middle school I can see how I was desperately trying to find my own identity. The different phases I went through and the depths I reached just to simply “fit in.”

It all boils down to a search for identity.

In middle school and even high school I tried to find my identity in my music. I was very into emo and pop punk. I wore a lot of black, had a few Paramore band t-shirts, and loaded on the black eyeliner a bit too heavy. I listened to the heartfelt, screaming, moping, sounds of Taking Back Sunday and obsessed over bands who fit the genre. I attempted to find my identity in my brand of clothes or my brand of shoes. I needed a cell phone because I wanted to fit in and all the other kids were getting the latest and best flip phones.

This did not bring me peace.

I still yearned for more. 

My senior year of high school I was desperately trying to find my identity in the “cool” crowd. I wanted to have lots of friends, I wanted to be popular, and I wanted to be liked by everyone. Chasing my identity through the approval of the eyes of my peers led me to decisions I deeply regret. I wanted to be “in” so I was willing to do anything even if I knew it was wrong. My “friend” group and I ended up betraying one my closest friends and bullying her behind her back and to her face. We had code words and would openly talk about her in her presence. We were unkind. We were cruel. In my race to identify as popular, I broke a friendship, shattered trust, and was consumed with guilt. 

I could feel the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart: “This is not who you are…”

I tried to ignore it and I tried to quench the Spirit. Despite having believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior at a young age, I ran from God in my teenage years. I am thankful for God’s patience and mercy with my stubborn heart because as I continued to search in all the wrong places, it was God who revealed my true identity to me. 

Identity is important. When you know who you are in the depths of your heart there is a peace that overflows.

God revealed my identity to me through the pages of His Word and through the character of His heart. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF IDENTITY

We know identity must be important if it is something everyone is searching after. Identity is so important that in the very beginning of time Satan attacks the identity of God and God’s image-bearers: Adam and Eve and the rest of mankind. In Isaiah 14:14 it says that the “shining morning star,” Satan, said to himself, “I will ascend above the highest clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Satan wanted to be just like God. This is a direct attack on God’s identity and character as there is no one like Him.

There can be no one like Him. He is God alone. He alone can create everything out of nothing. 

Again in Genesis Satan attacks identity.  The serpent, Satan, first attacks God’s character by insinuating that God is a liar, that God is deceitful, manipulative, and selfish. Satan tells Adam and Eve that they would not die, but that they instead would become like God and that God did not want them to be like Him. But in reality, God’s Word is truth (John 17:17), God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and he is crafty and cunning in his deception (2 Corinthians 11:3). 

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘you can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘you must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.'” “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 3:1-6

Satan has been attacking the identity of God and of God’s children from the very start.

You can be sure that he is still out there prowling around like a roaring lion seeking those he can devour, those he can deceive, and those who don’t have their armor on. (1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:10). It is vital that we are rooted and grounded in our identity so that we are not deceived and searching for it in all the wrong places.

STEP ONE IN KNOWING YOUR IDENTITY:

Plot twist! It’s not actually about me or you at all. It’s about knowing the identity of our Creator.  I used to not give much thought to God’s identity. He is God. What more did I need to know? The answer is more, so much more.

God is:
Creator
Almighty
Provider
Faithful
Gracious
Truth
Merciful
Sovereign
Loving
Righteous
Just
Judge
Father
Unchanging

Honestly, that barely brushes the surface of who God is. 

In a conversation with His disciples, Jesus reveals to us that His identity is important. You can read the text I’m referring to in Matthew chapter 16 beginning at verse 13. Jesus asked His disciples who people were saying He was. They told him people were saying he was John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the other old testament prophets. Then Jesus asked His disciples who they said He was and Peter responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Even though it wasn’t time for the world to know who Jesus was, it was vital that His disciples knew He was the Son of God. 

“Who do you say I am?” This is the very question Jesus asked His disciples and it’s the question I’m asking you:

Who do you say Jesus is?

Is He a man? Is He a prophet? Is He the Messiah? Your answer to this question is the key to finding your own identity. Who the world says Jesus is and who the Jesus of the Bible is are two very different people. The enemy has worked hard, and still is, to corrupt the identity of Christ. It is vital that you return to the source of truth, the Bible, if you don’t know the answer to the question above, are unsure, or have doubts. 

STEP TWO IN KNOWING YOUR IDENTITY:

READ. 

YOUR. 

BIBLE.

You won’t know who you are until you open the Book and read the Words given to you from the one who created you. Ephesians is a great place to start. I encourage you to grab your Bible, a notebook, and a highlighter. Look for phrases like “in Christ,” “through Christ,” or “in Him.”

You will find that in Christ you are blessed with every spiritual blessing, adopted into the family of God, lavished in grace, redeemed, forgiven, an inheritor, chosen, sealed, alive, and so much more!

Ultimately, it’s not about me at all. Did you catch the “in Christ” part?

Without Christ I am wretched. Without Christ my good deeds are the equivalence of dirty rags. Without Christ I am bound for an eternity in Hell. 

In Christ I am a child of God, I have been saved, redeemed, set free from the burden of sin, but not for myself and my own selfish wants and needs. I have been set free to give Him glory. I have been set free to give Him praise. I have been set free so that I can share the Gospel of Peace with all who cross my path.

I’ve claimed my identity in Christ. I am at peace. There are times that Satan tries to deceive me and the world tries to suck me back in. I have to choose to remind myself that peace does not come from online shopping, being liked by everyone, having the best of the best, my relationship status, the way that I look, or anything other than Jesus. Peace is found in Christ. God is the God of Peace. My identity is secure in Him. 

Immovable. Unshakeable. Peace.

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy