Part 1: Identity Crisis

[This is Part One for a short blog series on identity, specifically developed for students at an online high school where I teach. I pray in this New Year that God would refresh each of your hearts with His love and grace, and remind you yet again of who He says that you are.]

ImageHands trembling, I clutched the phone against my ear, hardly daring to breathe. The walls of the practice room seemed to cave inward. What was happening?

I’d always dreamed of being married by my 20th birthday, and now just weeks before my 19th year began, this boyfriend — man of my dreams with his milk chocolate eyes and worship leader status — wanted to propose. Only something was dreadfully wrong. In all my girlhood dreams of love, I’d never pictured this.

Someone controlling. Someone who said I was never good enough. Someone always expecting more.

Huddled on the piano bench in the music building at college, I listened to words I never dreamed I would hear.

“Sometimes I feel…” he paused. “Nevermind.”

“What? Tell me!” I begged.

“Sometimes I feel you’re worthless.” His voice had never sounded so unknown to me, so unfamiliar.

“Then that’s the end.” I hung up and cried. “Hold yourself together, Tiffany,” I whispered into the stuffy room.

Growing up in an incredible home, I was home schooled K-12 and highly involved at church since age 11. My dad was the kids’ pastor, and my parents were crazy about each other. I knew the Bible; since I can remember, my mom would read it straight through to us as we perched at the breakfast table.

So why, as a sophomore in college, would I date a guy who said I was worthless?

I guess you could say it was a parent’s nightmare. I’m sure my parents wondered many times, What did I do wrong? Why is this happening? 

I knew my parents loved me, so why did I tolerate a guy who treated me like anything but a daughter of the King? I knew what the Bible said, so why did I mess around with my boyfriend physically?

I knew all the right things, and yet my identity crisis came anyway.

At age 17, my first year of college, I met this incredible Christian man. As we courted for 16 self-righteous months, I fell into sinful behaviors, disordered eating, and self loathing.

Why?

Because I never really knew the love of God. Not personally. Not for me.

ImageI grew up serving in church, reading the Bible, and with parents who loved me…yet I never truly, deeply, personally knew just how much God loved me.

I lived life like a performance: Desperately trying to prove to God and others that I was good enough, worthy of love. I didn’t know how to rest in what He had done, so I lived an unknowingly works-based Christianity to “earn” His love.

The identity crisis came because you can’t know who you are until you know Whose you are. So if I didn’t know who God was, if I didn’t know His heart toward me, I couldn’t know who I was either.

Maybe you too have grown up knowing all the right things. But do you really know your heavenly Father personally? Are you too trying to earn a love that can never be earned?

Over the next week I want to share with you a few things God taught me about identity: Lessons that (over time) completely transformed my life, set me free from disordered eating, and opened the door to my destiny.

Ephesians 3:17-19, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

[Read part 2 here: “Playing Happy.”]

Tiffany Dawn teaches “Intro to Songwriting” and “Music Careers” at The Potter’s School. Author of The Insatiable Quest for Beauty, Miss Robison resides in upstate New York when she is not traveling on book and speaking tours. She has a love affair with long walks, raspberry chai, and everything CIA. (See www.tiffanydawn.net.)

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