Identity: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. – Oxford English Dictionary
As we get older, we identify ourselves in so many ways. For example, we state:
- “I do _____ for a living”
- “I attend ________ University”
- “I am _________’s partner/spouse”
- “I am apart of _____________ club/church/neighborhood”
For anyone starting out in a new transition of life, it’s easy to feel that you are insufficient in where you are. You also may feel lost at what steps need to be taken to get from where you are to where you want to be.
In starting a new school, changing to a new major, working at a new job, getting into a new relationship, or even in moving to a new city, there are many areas of each where you will not have all the knowledge you need to succeed at first. You must learn as you go and run the race of endurance.
Growth is such an important factor in transition seasons, but our growth can begin to turn into doubt and lack of motivation when we let the devil feed our minds. One of the easiest ways to sink into the self-doubt when it comes to feeling insufficient or less than is comparison. When we take our gaze off our identity and purpose and start to focus more on someone else’s abilities and achievements, we fall into this mindset of thinking that we lack capability to achieve any of our dreams or goals.
During my first semester of social work classes after changing my major, I really struggled with a few of the main core classes for my major. Everything about social work was new to me. Going from engineering, where you focus on math and science to then social work, where your main focuses are writing papers and learning theories, it was a major shift in my academic learning.
Of course, I did enjoy what I was learning. I felt I was where I needed to be because of my passions and interests. But my grades really began to discourage me when I received papers and tests back that did not meet up to my expectations or pressures of myself. I also compared my grades to others around me. I wondered, “How do they already know so much more about this topic than I do when we just started this new class a week ago?” I remember that I begin questioning my decision of changing my career path. And I also began questioning God. I didn’t understand why God would put this career path on my heart when I was not excelling at it.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10
I read this verse again the other day when I was hit back with that feeling of insufficiency again. What Paul is stating here is that we will go through times of uncertainty, of challenges, and times where we feel that we lack the capability, capacity, or strength to do something. We will get into those moments of self-doubt or comparison where we believe that we are not equip or called to a task. Or that someone else is better equipped or called to do the job instead. However, in those moments, inside of walking away, giving up, or moving on, we need to continue to press forward because when God is with us, He is going to provide all the necessities for us to be sufficient.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
On our own, we are insufficient. Everything we are, all the gifts and wisdom we have received, it has all come from God. Without Him, we are only going to be as capable of doing something as we see fit to do it. However, when we are obedient and choose to walk in life with God’s power and strength right beside us, He is going to lead us to do some amazing things for His kingdom.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
When we gaze our eyes on Jesus and the path set before us, we are less likely to fall into self-doubt and discouragement with contentment. I think it is important to seek counsel from others who have gone through similar seasons like the ones you are going through. However, keep in mind that the people around you may not be in the same stage of growth as you are. Depending on the life experiences that people have walked through, God has uniquely provided various wisdom and knowledge to each person, in order that we may help one another and build one another up. That’s one of the wonderful gifts of community.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Mark 13:31
At the end of the day, others will notice that we do have many labels in which we can identify as. Although others may see parts of our lives on the outsides with these labels, that does not mean they truly know our whole story. Thankfully, we have a Creator that fully knows each of us and loves us unconditionally. Unlike all the other labels or identities we may go by, the most important identity we have is being a follower of Christ because that identity lasts forever.