A true identity now a days is made up of a lot more than the basics. Yes, things like your height, weight, eye color, and hair length make up your identity as well as your religion, occupation, and relationship status. Then there are the things that are overlooked like your extracurricular activities: the good and the bad. The good like possibly the sports you play or your service to the church or the community. Then, unfortunately, there are the bad like your alcohol or drug use and the frequency of them.
Your identity is used often to describe you as a person in conversation. Statements like “Robert, who frequently serves at the church, is someone I would want hanging around my kids” or “Adam, who owns a vape and smokes a pack a day, is not allowed around my children” are the identities that I’m referring to. Unfortunately, our world has become so invested with what we look like and do on the outside rather than what is on the inside. This has caused so many people to leave the church or their community. Fear of judgment has increased tremendously across generations. Of course that should never be the reason you do something as escaping doesn’t solving much but that’s a different discussion. Your identity is truly so important and it’s very delicate but sometimes you don’t take care of it like you should.
When we make a big decision like what our future profession is or purchasing an electronic cigarette, both extremely different but also extremely significant, we forget to consider all major outcomes. At first my direction of thought was “Dang! So and so heard about me swearing and now anytime anyone hears my name they’re going to associate it with cursing”. It took me a while but then I considered the situation from a different angle, a way way more important angle. What about how God identifies me? What about what God associates with my name? Are all the things that are associated with my name representations of God? It goes without saying that self-identity is essential but more often than not, we forget to consider God before we speak or act, myself included.
There are so many times I remember where I did or said something without realizing until later the extent of what just happened. I’ve partaken in things I shouldn’t have partaken in and I’ve said things I definitely shouldn’t have said where some of them have stuck to my identity and some were forgotten. I dwelled for too long as to what the repercussions of this identity were going to look like and the thoughts didn’t take me anywhere good. I was so angry that one mistake, whether it was done once or a few times, was now stuck with who I am as a person and not what I was really about or my faith in God. That was easily forgotten when my name was mentioned in peoples mouths. I later realized this actually said more about those people who weren’t so accepting because of certain characteristics concerning my identity than it did about me. We’re actually instructed by God to accept each other as it is clearly stated in Romans 15 verse 7 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God”. So don’t worry about those folks who can’t get over your habits or your identities because they’re just as guilty as you are.
This is the point I’m trying to make though. You shouldn’t be so disturbed with who on earth is concerned with what you say or do but really disturbed by who in heaven is concerned with what you say or do. Yes you drink or yes you smoke and it’s become a part of your earthly identity but think about this. Someone will eventually find something else that’s negative to stick to your identity so that really shouldn’t be your main concern. Your main concern with how your drinking and smoking are impacting your relationship with God because He is the one who matters not your friends or your friends parents who make out to be something you know you’re not.
Change your identity for yourself and for God, don’t do it for anyone else. Change your ways, form new habits, change your environment, do something that won’t put you in the same position that keeps on taking you down that terrible road that you want to sway away from. It’s not too late for God is always waiting with wide-open arms for you. Ephesians 4:22-24 says “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness”. As it so beautifully says, take off that old man, the man that does things he shouldn’t do or says things he shouldn’t say and put on the new one, the renewed one.
We all fall daily and that’s a fact but the most important thing about falling is how you get back up and move forward. Are you person who is known (or identified) for drinking often or owning a vape or are you the person who is struggling to decrease your amount of drinking or getting rid of your vape for God? Will you be that person that changes as a front for other people or a person who changes for your Father up above. There will always be a difference between someone who is sinning blindly and someone who is struggling with a sin, my spiritual father taught me that. You just have to finally BE CRITICAL OF YOURSELF and know and understand what you’re doing and perceive it to be wrong in order to move forward. In other words, your identity in Christ can be changed; you just have to want it.