Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Where do you find your identity?
Is there a child out there who calls you mom? Is that where your identity lies? What about your husband? Is your identity in your marital status? Or what about your job? It surely consumes the majority of your time. Is your identity in your work?
We are all, men and women alike, tempted to find our identity in a variety of things. Sometimes those things are good things. Sometimes our identity seeking turns good things into idols. Maybe you are a beloved daughter who is consumed with caring for your aging mother. Exhausting days filled with nursing home visits and estate planning can cause you to think you are defined by this relationship, so when it ends, you are lost. Maybe you are a new mother, and these first few weeks have been so exhilarating and tiring that you can’t see straight. But when the baby doesn’t sleep through the night like the book says he will, you look in the mirror and see a bad mother, a mother who is defined by a baby that won’t sleep.
We are created beings, always on a mission to find out who we are, what we are made of, and where we belong.
We are identity seekers. In fact, women have been looking for a new identity ever since Eve took that fateful bite and questioned God’s right to rule over her. We have been trying to define ourselves ever since. Feminism is one of the many ideologies that have attempted to shape a woman’s identity over the years. Early feminism started with a good goal, to fix the problems of injustice. Modern feminism espouses the right for women to define themselves, to find their identity in their accomplishments. It’s become something entirely different.
God’s Word gives us a different kind of identity, one that is not rooted in our accomplishments, our work, our ability to bear children, our clean house, our marital status, our family, our talents, our exercise plan, or anything else you can think of that defines you. Our identity actually starts with him.
In the beginning, God created us. He had a vision for us before he even breathed life into Adam’s lungs or crafted Eve from Adam’s side. It was to bear his image. God’s first word regarding us as women is that we are made in his image. Every other thing we possess will fade away (our family, our spouse, our body, our friends, our job, etc.), but the fact that we are image bearers sticks with us.
Your primary purpose in this world is to display God to all you come in contact with. You do that with your words, but you also do that with your very life. You, an image bearer, tell a story about God and his character. Your identity is rooted in him, not stuff. This radically changes how you view the world. This means you can face the loss of a loved one, an aging body, a job that doesn’t satisfy you, a friend who abandons you, a church that hurts you, an unkind word, or even a womb that never bears children, because your identity is not in what you do or who you know--it’s in the God who never changes.
You are an identity seeker, that is true. But God’s Word has already given you the roadmap to finding the right path to identity. It’s in the God who made you and gave you his image.
Suggestions for Prayer
- Write out the things that you are often tempted to find your identity in. Ask God to forgive you for the tendency to seek your identity in things other than him.
- Sometimes it is through painful circumstances that we come to see that we’ve been finding our identity in things rather than God. Confess your struggle to the Lord. Praise him for aspects of his character that remind you of his goodness toward you.
- It is a wonderful thing to bear the image of the Creator. All it took was a word and the world was made. Praise God for his goodness, creativity, and power in creating the world out of nothing, and for making us, his people, in his image.
Courtney Reissig is a wife, mother, and writer. She has written for the Gospel Coalition, Boundless, and Her.meneutics (the Christianity Today blog for women), where she is a regular contributor. She is also the assistant editor for Karis, a women's blog hosted by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and is the author of The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God's Good Design. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.