15 Sep The Truest Thing About Me
When I think about the different, clearly defined stages of my life thus far—middle school, high school, college—I can easily see how in each of those stages I had identifiers: things that I clung to with everything to ensure consistency and stability in my understanding of who I was. I was continually looking to my interests and my circumstances to better understand my identity, and as those things changed, my identity naturally followed suit.
While this strategy can be helpful, and even good in some ways, it is naturally flawed. It will never hold up. As I have learned, and am still learning, identity cannot be built on things like interests and circumstances because those things change. They change a lot, especially when you are young, and having your identity fluctuate that way can be unstable and frustrating. This leads to constantly searching for an answer to the question, “Who am I?” While culture tells me this is really what youth is for, I feel confident that we don’t necessarily need to spend our youth, or any period of our life, searching for this answer because the answer is already there—waiting patiently for us to come looking.
I recently read a book that changed me. A book that, next to the Bible, has had the most impact on my life of any book to date. It’s called The Truest Thing About You, by David Lomas. If there were something I could do to convince everyone they should read it, I would do it. David writes about identity, how we should find it, and how it is consistent across all of the human race. It was while reading this book that I first came to understand the phrase imago Dei, meaning “In the image of God.”
“As I have learned, and am still learning, identity cannot be built on things like interests and circumstances because those things change.”
David focuses on what should be the core of our identity: We are God’s children, made in His image. This is true—the truest of true. This truth will not change, and it is the purest form of what we were made to be. This is what we can safely say is who we are and know will hold up to the weight of that identity. We can base our interests, hopes, dreams, and expectations for this life off of that one thing.
This was transformative for me when I read it during my junior year of college. I was struggling with sin that was pulling me into an identity—pulling me to believe a lie that because I dealt with this one thing, that my whole life should revolve around that one identifier. I believed that my free time, friends, interests, etc. should all be chosen and motivated by this part of my life. This was also being augmented by the culture we live in: one that is fueled by stereotypes and division. Through reading this book and seeking the Lord, I realized that while this sin was real, and true, it wasn’t the truest thing about me.
I was made in God’s image, which means I am His son. I am his child, adopted into His eternal family and loved by Him. Genesis 5:1-2 says, “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.” (ESV)
“I was struggling with sin that was pulling me into an identity—pulling me to believe a lie that because I dealt with this one thing, that my whole life should revolve around that one identifier.”
This is the first thing that the Bible tells us about the human race, and really it’s all that it tells us. We are to assume everything based on this one descriptor. In reality though, that is what we all should do for ourselves. When we face the question of identity or purpose, our answer is found in Whose image we were created.
David writes in his book, “We don’t find our identity. Rather, we receive our identity. We are given it by God. Everything true about our identity is true because it was created and gifted to us by God. That is why our self-worth derives from the act of our creation. We are rooted in our imago Dei. You are. I am. The weird smelly guy who sleeps in the armchair at your favorite Starbucks is. Every single person who has ever lived reflects and represents the everlasting God who created the universe and everything in it. That’s the imago Dei.”
No matter what, I can come back to this truth. That year, I learned that I have an identity established at the beginning of time, and while this sin was real in my life, it did not define who I was. The moment I realized this, I felt like I had been drenched in freedom. I felt liberated for the first time in my life from a sin that I felt was written on my heart and stitched into the fabric of who I was.
“. . . I learned that I have an identity established at the beginning of time, and while this sin was real in my life, it did not define who I was.”
Now, in this life I will always have a sinful nature and will always wrestle between these conflicting ideas. Paul writes in Romans speaking about this struggle and how he knows these two things will constantly war within him:
“For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (ESV, 7:22-25)
Unfortunately, this struggle is not something we will see the end of in this life, but we know the life-saving, identity-defining Truth. We know what we were made for and how we were made, and the beautiful fact that at the end of the day—and at the end of days—we are His.
Zack is a recent graduate of Clemson University and is employed as an Emergency Nurse in Greenville. If you want to get him talking, feel free to bring up any and all of the following topics: avocados, woodworking, C.S. Lewis, handwriting, healthcare, or mountains. He attends our Downtown campus and serves in student ministry there.