Defining the Real You

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5

Everyone struggles to define who they are—at home, at school, with their family, with friends, and in life. People regularly answer questions like, “What’s your name?”, “What do you do for school/work?”, and “What’s your favorite (fill in the blank)?” You are constantly challenged to define yourself for the world and to others. It should be no surprise then that many people often struggle to answer those questions and define who they are even to themselves.

Defining You

Defining “Self” Like Everyone Else

Psychology teaches that the concept we have of “self” is comprised of the view you have of yourself, how much you value yourself, and what you wish you were really like. [1] These concepts of self can be influenced by many internal and external factors. As you interact with the world and other people (who are also trying to define themselves), you begin to form a view of who you are and how you fit in this world. Depending on the input you receive, your view of self can be shaped positively or negatively.

The Challenge of Defining “Self”

Defining “self” is one of the greatest challenges facing today’s generation. With the flood of negative external input from social media, news, school, peers, and others, it’s not hard to see why. Having a strong inner voice that speaks positively about your appearance, behavior, worth, and purpose in life is a real struggle for many people.

According to the Huffington Post, suicide rates among teens aged 15-19 has increased significantly from 2007-2015 (girls rates doubled, and boys rates rose 30 percent). [2]

All this external input is the world trying to shape and define your identity. However, the truest definition of an artist’s work doesn’t come from the art critic or the art consumer, it comes directly from the artist! That is what the last lesson was all about—you are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)! He is the artist who defines you!

WHO ARE YOU… REALLY? THERE IS ONLY ONE PLACE YOU CAN LOOK TO FIND THE TRUE ANSWER TO WHO YOU ARE AND WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE.

God Defines the Real You

One of the best examples of how God defines the “real you” can be found in the story of Gideon from the Old Testament. In Judges 6, a messenger visits Gideon. He speaks and calls Gideon a mighty warrior. And Gideon argued with him!

As you struggle through life trying to define who you are to the world and to yourself, you can rely on How the Master Artist views you. Jeremiah 1:5 says that He knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. He, above all others, has the right and privilege of revealing your true identity—you are a son or daughter, you are amazing and unique, and you are a mighty warrior!

But that wasn’t the end of the story. Gideon wasn’t a mighty warrior when he was identified as one by God’s messenger. His identity was revealed to him and called out of him. He had to learn how to walk and live in that true identity revealed to him by the messenger.

He had to learn how to listen to God’s voice. He had to learn how to reject and overcome fear. He had to learn to trust God and walk in God’s ways. It was a challenge and a struggle, but as he followed God, he became the person God told him he already was. God sees the you that you truly are and are truly meant to become.

The Challenge to Become You

As you “do life” this week, take time to listen for God’s voice. By what name does He call you? What traits is He identifying that are inside of you? Begin to trust that He knows what He is talking about and take a step. Don’t argue like Gideon. Don’t keep looking for a sign like Gideon. Instead, step out of the boat like Peter did in Matthew 14:22-33. You might sink like Peter if you take your eyes off Jesus. But, then again, you might just find yourself walking on water.

Take Time to Reflect

Take some time and reflect on the following questions. Use them as a conversation catalyst with God—He really does want to know who you are. Use these questions to help you engage in conversation with friends. These can help you go deeper into relationships with God and others!

  1. How well do your friends know the real you? How do they know what they know about you?
  2. How well does God know the real you? How does He know what He knows about you?
  3. How do you want your friends to identify you? What words do you want them to use to describe you?
  4. How do you want to identify yourself? What words do you want to use to describe yourself?
  5. How does God identify you? Ask your teacher, youth leader, or pastor to help you discover how God identifies you.

 

[1] McLeod, S. A. (2008). Self concept. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/self-concept.html

[2] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/suicide-rates-teen-girls_us_59848b64e4b0cb15b1be13f4

Eyes Wide Open

Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living? – Bob Marley

Rarely have I ever gone into any situation fully aware of what to expect. As a matter of fact, I never have. Nope, not once. I’m also fairly sure that I’m not alone in this experience.

New situations are just that – new. They are often vague, unexpected, and unknown. Sometimes they can be daunting and uncomfortable. But they can also bring adventure.

My bride and I recently celebrated our 22nd anniversary. Little did I know what God had in store for us. As I knelt in that shallow pool at the base of the waterfall on the Glen Eyrie property in Colorado Springs to propose to Catherine, there was no way I could see what God had planned or where the future would take us. I only knew that she was made for me, and I was made for her.

He has blessed us with a vibrant, deep love for each other. We have three amazing, intelligent, creative children. We’ve experienced trials and victories. I never could have seen it all! But, I never would have chosen a different adventure.

Yes, the unknown and new things can bring adventure. It all depends on your perspective.

If you enter the new with fear and trepidation, you will live fearfully. If you let the uncertainty of the situation overwhelm you, then you will be uncertain and hesitant in the life you live. If you charge blindly ahead in desperation to reach the other side, you might just find an unexpected cliff.

Open your eyes. Encounter the new with adventure in your heart. See it as an opportunity, and embrace the thrill of the unknown. Live with an expectant attitude. It is this expectant hope that will carry you through the trials and into victory.

You see, when your hope is in the One who gives hope, you experience His peace eternal. When you trust the miracle maker and drink deeply of the depths of Him, you find the richness of life and see the miraculous in everything. When you fix your gaze on Him, you can walk on the waters.

What perspective will you take toward what this new year holds for you?