In speaking to teenagers often, and in reading through parenting blogs, and simply connecting with my own life….there emerges a common theme. We often deal with the temptation to “put on a smile” when we know it’s what other people want to see. We feel the pressures and schedules of life to the point where our very nature becomes to “go with the flow”, and do whatever it takes to smoothly navigate the road ahead.
There’s something all of these things have in common, and it’s something every human being comes to struggle with at one point or another. The temptation to receive our “identity”, and/or our “self-worth” from something or someone other than God.
In Genesis, we see God creating all things. His word declares that all these things are “Good”. God asks humanity to trust in Him, and the way He has created all things. To receive their identity from Him alone. But man acts defiantly, declaring to Him “no thanks, we’d like to discover our own identity”, and eats the fruit of “self”.
That changes everything.
We see how dramatic the change is, in Genesis 3:10-11
“But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ”
God actually asks Adam, “Who told you that you were naked?” Before this moment, mankind had received his COMPLETE identity only from God, even to the point where if God hadn’t said it…it was unknown/inconsequential. I’m not advocating nudity here…and if your friend accidentally shows up to something naked, you should definitely tell them.
But I would love for my daughters to grow up into women who can boldly live out the identities and Hope they receive from God alone. Our desire for our children is that they would be so strongly attached to their concept of “self in Christ”, that when life offers them other definitions or futures that fall short of what God offers them/calls them….they would know it. I pray that my wife and I, and our families and friends, would live out the kind of example to them, of receiving our identity so much as: God’s beloved, called His children, New Creations, citizens of His Kingdom, etc.
That may mean we embarrass them…or ourselves once in a while…not realizing how we appear to the world…only how God views and knows us. But this is also humbling as a parent. To recognize that it’s not my voice that I ultimately want my daughters to hear….but His. That means I need to be drawing nearer to Him…listening to what He is saying…if I’m to speak those words to them…