“As Christians, we are taught that our identity is found in Christ alone,” writes Zim Flores in her book, Dare to Bloom: Trusting God Through Painful Endings and New Beginnings (2020). “But if we’re honest with ourselves, we often find our self-worth in anything but Christ. We believe we are only as good as our last success.”
Indeed, in a world that too readily equates success with a visibly empowered self – often through prestige, power and money – it’s difficult not to root our identity in our accomplishments, relationships, jobs or possessions.
While these things can certainly afford us a sense of worth, what we are bound to discover at some point in our life journey is that they are not only ephemeral, but are incapable of filling the void that resides in the recesses of our being.
“It’s a tricky concept, identity,” Flores writes. “And it’s one that’s made even more difficult when the things we hold as truth change right before our eyes.”
Packed full of wisdom and eternal truths, Flores’ book reveals the power of reclaiming our identity in God – and the difficulties and joys that it brings. Drawing on her own personal experience and crisis of identity, she offers words of comfort, healing and encouragement for anyone in the midst of starting over.
“We are all in a perpetual cycle of new beginnings,” she writes. “This book answers this question: Who are you when the thing you’ve identified yourself with is no longer there?”
Our true identity has nothing to do with our circumstances:
“We spend so much of our lives affixing ourselves to our circumstances that we miss out on the freedom of who God says we are. Discovering our identity comes first with uprooting everything we’ve ever known about who we are.”
Our true identity has everything to do with God – and God alone:
“Your identity is not in who you are; it’s in who He is. It’s not what you do; it’s what He did. It’s not where you live; it’s where He dwells.”
In other words:
“Our identities never belong in our status, our relationships, our financial situations, our careers, or our hometowns. Our identities belong to God and God alone.”
Said another way:
“Identities founded in people, places, or things are destined to collapse.”
Discovering our true identity often means leaving behind who we thought we were – old ways of doing, thinking and being:
“[God] wants to remove the things that hinder your growth. The friendships that don’t serve your destiny. That toxic relationship. The small mindset. He wants to remind you that your identity is not rooted in what you lost. You are not what happened to you. You are His. He wants to restore you beyond your former glory. You thought life was good before? In Him it will be even better.”
This process involves a lot of “pruning”:
“Sometimes people, patterns of thinking, and habits have no place in where God is taking you. I learned that the mindset of my past wouldn’t work for my future understanding. God wants us to be more fruitful, more productive, and more like Him so that we can be more effective for His Kingdom. And to be effective for the Kingdom, we not only have to shed the identities we’ve worked so hard to build, we must then affix ourselves to the One who matters. We have to be pruned. Pruning is the careful removal of living, dying, or dead plant parts. Why do plants need to be pruned often? To make way for better growth – and a healthier bloom.”
God is often the one that initiates this process – that is, our change from who we thought we were to who He says we are:
“For many, our role in God’s ministry can only begin in anonymity. There is new purpose in a new identity. There are profound challenges and beautiful blessings. There is a deeper burden and a holier call…everyone who is effective for the Kingdom of God undergoes an identity change. It’s a normal yet often neglected part of living for God. He will transform you – not just once but over and over again.”
Indeed, we belong solely to Him:
“When God changes our name, transforms our identity, and brings us out of a season and into a new one, the most important thing to remember is that we are His. We are not our circumstances. Successful or not, we belong to God.”
And can find who we are in His Word:
“Who we are should be subject to His Word. Everything that we think we are can be found within the pages of the Bible. His word is our key to knowing Him deeply and intimately. This Bible is the revelation of God’s Will; as we spend more time with Him, we will find that in every storm, at every crossroad, in the midst of every trial or triumph, who we are is who God says we are.
We are loved.
We are protected.
We are worthy.
We are purposed.
We are made in His image.
We are redeemed.
We are His.
We are free.”
Our identity and purpose are inextricably linked in God:
“Our ultimate purpose – what God has placed us on earth to accomplish – cannot be found apart from Him. We can read all the books on purpose. We can journal from morning to evening. We can take courses and talk to counselors. But God’s purpose for us can only be uncovered in Him.”
Much like our identities, our true purpose often evolves from a place of brokenness:
“What God ultimately requires of us can’t be completed in a few months or even a few years. Part of it can be, but if we are continually striving to be more like Christ, then our purposes will likely evolve with the seasons as we continue to grow with Him. While we’ll likely spend our early years in faith discovering what it means to live for God, for many of us it will ultimately take brokenness to find our purpose in Him.”
In other words:
“God’s purpose for you will cancel who you thought you were.”
In fact, our purpose becomes less about us – and more about Him:
“God knows the plan He’s laid before you. He knows the desires of your heart. He knows you by name, and He wants to shift your purpose from finding glory in your own name to finding purpose in His name.”
Indeed, God’s definition of “success” often looks a whole lot different than our own:
“…while we define success as more money, status, and things, God defines success by sacrifice. We want more riches, fame, and position. God wants obedience. We want to buy more distractions, graduate to nice surroundings, start new businesses, and own bigger homes. God wants surrender.”
In Him, we have all the security we need:
“…we can do powerful things in Christ when we take on His identity at the crossroad. As difficult as it may be, we can always trust that His plans are greater than our crises. Why? When a crisis comes, it can rob us of our joys, our plans, and we often think that it can rob us of our future. But I’ve got good news: God says that our future is secure in Him.”
He truly is our one, lasting hope:
“What I’ve learned over the years is that God is the only One who can quench my inner thirst, the thirst of my soul. When I thought people, success, money, or fame could satisfy, it was only through God that I was made full and He began to flow out of me. When I started studying His word on my own, separating myself from this world and unto Him, the desires of the world fell out of focus.”
Undergoing an identity transformation can be intensely painful, but is necessary for growth:
“The truth is that elevation requires a downgrade. And in God’s economy isolation begets intimacy. God brings us low to prepare us for the rise, to prepare us for greatness, assigning us to a wilderness experience – perhaps something as painful as losing an entire group of friends – to call us to higher, more fertile ground. He trims the branches of our mindset that tells us we aren’t enough until we are bound to the mind of Christ. He shapes the leaves of our security and wipes clean the ugly collectibles we’ve accumulated over the years. Alone with Him is where we find true victory from the identities of our past.”
So, hold fast to Him:
“We can do powerful things in Christ when we take on His identity in the middle of a crisis. The comfort we seek is found once we acknowledge that the same God who brought us to this very moment will equip us with the boldness to make it to the other side.”
And remember this:
“Your past identity has no bearing on what God has planned for your future. Stay in His presence, and you will find that nothing and no one can take away all that He has for you.”
- When Things Fall Apart: Pema Chödrön on the Precious Opportunities in Difficult Times
- Claiming Responsibility for Our Lives: Thomas Merton on Discovering Meaning and Purpose Within
- Anne Lamott on Joy, Contentment and the Value We Have Within
- What to Hold Onto When Things Feel Impossible
- Saint Augustine on the Happy Life and Finding Joy
- Yielding Control: Irenaeus of Lyon on What it Means to be a Created Being
- “I Love the Word Impossible”: Ann Kiemel on Our “Giant of a God”
- Epictetus on How to Live a Good, Fulfilling Life
- Epictetus on Willing What God Wills – or Doesn’t Will