What often keeps us stuck in exile is we lose a sense of identity. The loss we experienced is so disillusioning that we don’t know who we are any more.
Over the past two posts I talked about reframing your loss and reframing your offender. You also need to reframe your identity if you want to return from exile. You need to see who you are in a new light so you can move on and start a new life.
What people often fail to see, and fail to accept, is that their loss changed them. For example, if you got a divorce, you are single, whether you like it or not. You have a new box to check off on forms: single.
You need to see who you are in a new light so you can move on and start a new life.
Or maybe you lost your job. Your identity used to be as a pastor, and now you are…well, you aren’t so sure. Are you a pastor who is currently selling cars? Or are you a salesman who used to be a pastor?
Because people don’t like their new identity, they often get stuck in blame, self-pity and denial…finding ways to dismiss or minimize their new status.
But there’s a better way to identify yourself than married/single, or pastor/salesman, etc. You are simply God’s child. You are loved by a caring Father who is committed to bringing you to a better place. But if you insist on clinging to old identities, you will never be able to receive the new life and experiences that God has for you.
When a person is able to find their identity apart from their relationships or their associations (work, hobby, etc.) we call them “differentiated.” They are able to distinguish themselves from whom they know or what they do. If you want to leave exile, you need to differentiate yourself.
Jesus was differentiated. He found his identity in God alone. He said:
If I give honor to myself, that honor is worth nothing. The One who gives me honor is my Father… John 8:54 NCV
Jesus tells us here that he didn’t look to others for affirmation or identity. His worth came from God. In another place, Jesus chided the people of his day on this point saying:
How can you believe since you accept praise from one another, but do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? John 5:44
In other words, he’s saying we too often find our worth in what other people have to say about us and not in what God says about us.
Jesus’ words show us that he was differentiated. He didn’t allow himself to be defined by his work or ministry or family status. No one could intimidate him with words because he only listened to what his Father had to say about him. His goal was never to keep people happy. As a result, he was never devastated when people rejected him. Even in his death, he was able to say,
“Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Take a look in the mirror. Who do you think you are? How have you framed your life? What is the label you hang on that picture? Is it keeping you from returning from exile?
No matter what has happened to you; no matter what you’ve lost, you are God’s child. That is how you ought to frame yourself and that is the title you should place on the frame.
Please take a minute to leave a comment below. This post was adapted from the chapter in STUCK on how to reframe your identity.