The Common Case of Mistaken Identity
Do you ever wonder if you’re living your days with value and purpose?
- Make a list of all the roles you play in life. Jot them down and be exhaustive. For instance, I’m a child, a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a friend, a Christ-follower, a neighbor, a consultant, an author, a speaker, a teacher, etc. How about you? How important are these roles in your life? Assess each one.
- Now, visualize yourself in the following scenario: You are far out to sea on a large, chartered boat with dozens of other passengers. Suddenly, a storm surges and capsizes the vessel. You’re terrified and struggling to stay afloat as the boat sinks into the depths. You swim toward a piece of the boat’s carnage floating atop the engulfing waters. After what seems like days upon days, you wash up on the shores of a small deserted island with nothing but seas insight. There is no one else who survived the wreckage. You are alone and have no chance of ever being rescued. You are here in solitude until your end of days.
- Using a scale from 1-(low) to 10-(high), how would you now rate your value on this planet?
- Take a moment to consider why you gave yourself the number-value you did? What rationale did you use to keep yourself from rating higher or lower?
A fascinating research study was done on high-ranking individuals like CEO’s, government and military officials, and famous sports celebrities – people who were esteemed for their status or titles. The study measured their sense of value, both pre- and post-retirement. For those who had equated their purpose in life with the roles they held, they began feeling worth less than when they were in authority and in high regard. Unless they could begin to differentiate their identity from their roles, they would spin into a downward spiral where they began to hope less, see the world as more hostile, suffer depression, and die sooner than their counterparts.
I see the same with many women who will tell you their purpose in life is to be a mother. I’m not talking about the blessed few who actually are called to mother – the ones who continue to foster and adopt countless children beyond their own biological family. I’m talking about the ones who find themselves lost and purposeless once their children are gone and independent. When your value is in your role and not your unique, God-given, purpose-filled identity, you run the risk of feeling worth LESS when you no longer dominate that role.
Think back on your score. Were you rating your value on the loss of your roles or on your God-given identity which never changes or loses significance? How might you reassess your value and purpose considering this exercise? When we believe the true measure of our worth is based on who God created us to be in Christ Jesus, our identity remains secure, safe from the storms and shipwrecks of life.
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