Finding Yourself
by Cindi McMenamin
October 13th, 2016

Kelly was a popular teenager – and the star of her school’s track team – when she broke her ankle in a cheerleading accident that ended her track career.  Desperate to find out who she was – apart from the school’s fastest runner – she fell into a downward spiral of eating disorders, out of an effort to not gain weight because of her inactivity, and to gain the attention of those who continued to compliment her on her weight. But several years later, she realized how she looked didn’t fill her with a sense of significance. It only led her to a life-threatening addiction. 

What is at the root of our search for identity? Why are we so consumed with trying to “find” ourselves? Is there really a piece of us missing out there that we must find? I believe that, rather than needing to find ourselves, we need to forget about ourselves and focus on the One who created us to love Him and enjoy Him forever. I truly believe our struggle  to find ourselves is due to an ignorance of who we really are in the eyes of our Creator, an unawareness of how much we’re worth in the eyes of our Redeemer, and an unclear picture of our ability to glorify Him simply by loving Him and living for Him.

Survival Steps for an Identity Crisis

A search for our identity can lead to broken relationships, depression, eating disorders, and even various addictions, especially if we believe our significance lies in who loves us, how we look, what we do, or what we weigh. And no matter what our area of weakness, and no matter what our age or stage in life, you and I  can be tempted to go down a self-destructive path in searching for our identity.

To help you steer clear of a path toward destruction, Kelly (whose story is above) helped me come up with these “Survival Steps for a Current – or Coming – Identity Crisis.” Take these truths to heart and share them with your friends now so you can stand strong together.

Ignore the Lies and Invest in the Truth

There will be days when your own negative self talk tells you that you are worthless. There will be days when the enemy of your soul will torment you with feelings that you’re not young enough, thin enough, or attractive enough to really be happy in life. There are days when the enemy will taunt you to start walking a path toward your own identity. But beware: Christ told us to lose our life (quit focusing on ourselves) in order to really find it. When you look at yourself, you will see your shortcomings, weaknesses, and mistakes. But, when you direct your gaze at Christ, you will find perfection, strength, unconditional love, beauty and completeness. You will also see who you are in His eyes and it will be life-transforming.

Immerse Yourself in God’s Word 

Reciting Scripture keeps our minds focused on God’s truth rather than Satan’s lies. The Word also keeps us unstained by the world and its ideals, philosophies and values. The world will tell you – on television, on the radio, in songs, or across the table at the coffee shop – that you are the most important person in your life and finding yourself is paramount. But Jesus said: “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me” (Matthew 10:39, The Message).

Invite Accountability into your Life

Proverbs 27:17 tells us: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man (or woman) sharpens another.” The Bible also tells us of the benefit of having another person in our life who can hold us accountable and keep us from falling: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12).

Get real with someone you trust and ask them to pray for you and hold you accountable in the area in which you struggle. 

Incorporate Daily Prayer into Your Life

If you’re only praying when you’re in trouble, then you’re in trouble. Prayer keeps us focused on God. So it needs to be continual, so we don’t lose our focus and start thinking of ourselves again.  First Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray continually.” I find that when I do that, my focus is more on God, than on myself.  When I struggle with feelings of guilt or shame, with wanting to feel more significant, or with wanting something in my life to change, I must redirect my focus onto God and start praising Him. When we recount God’s goodness, recite His faithfulness, and repeat songs of His worthiness it switches the focus from our self pity to our Savior’s praise.

Can you, too, proclaim the goodness of the One who is the Answer at the end of your search? Will you, in this moment, surrender your search for yourself and replace it with the realization that, in Jesus, you have found all you could ever want?  There is something wonderful in being able to say: “I’ve finally found what I’ve been looking for.”  

(This post is adapted for teens from its original format and is shared here with permission from the author.)

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 15 books including her newest, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You

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