Identity in Christ: How to Discover What’s ACTUALLY True About You

Written by Tim Branch

I’ve been thinking a lot about who I’m becoming. And realizing I haven’t been paying attention to who I’m allowing myself to become.

I’m guessing you’ve noticed you’re slowly becoming different, every day, whether you like it or not—right?

  • Everything you watch…
  • Everything you read…
  • All the people you hang out with…
  • All the things you choose to care about…
  • All the goals you have for yourself…
  • They’re all creating you into something you weren’t before.

Does that make you nervous? Cuz it makes me REALLY nervous.

Most of us are terrified of who we’re becoming.

Identity is one of our core needs as human beings. It’s how God put us together. But normally, we don’t know what our identity is, which makes us feel purposeless.

So we desperately search for any identity until we find one. Good or bad.

That causes us to live by a lot of names. Mostly bad ones.

And without realizing it, we start slowly becoming something else. Maybe something we weren’t intending.

False names have a deadly power to twist your true identity.

My favorite quote from Disney’s 2015 live-action version of Cinderella:

“Names have power, like magic spells. All of the sudden it seemed to Ella that her stepmother and stepsisters had transformed her into a creature of ash and toil.”

I heard that quote in the theater and my eyes welled up with tears.

Why?

It reminded me of the names I battle within myself.

I’m sure you can relate, can’t you? Don’t you have those old familiar names that you wish weren’t true, but you’re terrified they are?

Maybe someone gave them to you. Maybe you gave them to yourself.

Too often, we live out of these twisted names.

It may sound weird, but the story of your identity is a lot more like Cinderella’s story than you might think.

Let me show you what I mean…

Picture this: A girl named Ella is busy displaying her gift of remarkable kindness by cleaning for her new family.

As she finishes tending the fire and brings breakfast to the table, one of her stepsisters says, “What’s that on your face?”

“Cinders. From the fireplace,” the other says.

“I’ve got a new name for you—Cinder Wench.”

“No, no…Dirty Ella.”

“CINDERella—that’s what we’ll call you!”

A parasitic name latched onto her beautiful gift of kindness, cheapened it, and twisted it into something that made her inferior…subhuman, even.

Our identities get twisted just like this.

Names have power. What false names are trying to define you, to bend you to their will?

Where are they coming from? Maybe it’s something embarrassing you did in front of your friends. Now they’ve given you a name you hate.

Or maybe it’s a nickname based on the way you look. People have chosen to define you by the one thing you’re most self-conscious about.

I found my name after my dad took me through a surprisingly revealing “inner names” exercise he uses in his spiritual formation classes.

An Exercise to Help You Find Your Identity in Christ

Step One, he said, was to grab one of those Wal-Mart name tag stickers that says “Hello, my name is…”

And write the name you most consistently hear about yourself.

I wrote “Insufficient.”

That word comes from baggage I’ve lugged around since middle school. (The universal crappiest years of a human life, amirite?)

The truth is, I feared I’d never be good enough to ever do something that mattered, Something that would be valuable or help people. “Insufficient” was the accusation I had internalized.

I secretly hoped calling myself “Insufficient” would toughen me up. But I still wasn’t tough—in fact, it messed me up more than anything.

Step Two: “Now write the name you believe God calls you.”

I sat wondering for a moment. As I focused on what God might be saying, another word popped into my head.

Capable.

It was as if God said, “I gave you everything you need to accomplish the important purpose for your life—including myself.”

Deep down, I felt unloved and worthless because I couldn’t see a purpose for my life. And all I wanted was to do something useful for God.

One word changed all that.

One word holds the power to bring you from that “Cinderella” name that makes you feel like you’re wearing dirty rags…

To this:

Or, if you’re a dude, this:

Do you understand the gravity of that?

One of the verses that’s captured my attention recently is Revelation 2:17, where God says that one day He’s going to give us “a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”

What Does the Bible Say About Your True Identity?

God has the perfect description of your true identity, one that speaks to everything you were created to be, written on a white stone.

I believe when He finally shows us that unique name, it will speak so deeply to our souls, that we will breathe a sigh of deep joy and say, “YES. That’s exactly who I am.”

As I struggle through wondering what I’m becoming, one of the most beautiful things I can think of is that God has a true identity for me. An identity he’s pulling me toward, one with hidden strengths and hidden talents and hidden beauty. An identity that is my destiny. An identity in Christ.

Peter is a perfect example. Remember in the Gospels, how he’s the one who always charges in, seemingly without thinking?

He’s the guy who actually got out of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus.

He’s the guy who went out fighting when Jesus got arrested…and chopped off a dude’s ear.

And yet…he’s the guy who, later on, denied Jesus 3 times in a row. Then went off alone to weep bitterly.

But the most beautiful thing in the world is that when his name got from Simon to Peter, Jesus said, “I will call you Peter, which means ‘rock.’ On this rock I will build my church, and death itself will not have any power over it.”

Jesus spoke this identity over Peter, knowing he was going to deny Jesus 3 times.

Knowing that he was going to act like ANYTHING but a rock.

Because Jesus knows that Peter’s actions don’t change his true identity, Rock.

That’s the message I want you to take away today.

The enemy’s message to you today will be, “Look how far away you are from who you’re SUPPOSED to be. Look what you’ve DONE. You’ll never live up to that. You could never be that.”

But Jesus’s message?

“You WILL become who I originally designed you to become. Even if you get lost a couple times on the way. Because THAT is your true identity.”

Are you worried today about who you’re becoming?

Listen to that worry, and then remember who you are.

(Also here’s that video clip from the Lion King. It always gives me chills. God speaks to me through it!)

You were created in the image of God. And He doesn’t take that lightly.

So today, be confident in God’s promise that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” (Phil. 1:6)

Try This Identity Exercise

I want ask you to do something:

Will you consider going through the exercise my father took me through?

First ask: What name do I consistently hear about myself?

Then ask: What name do I think God calls me instead?

If you’re on my email list, I’d be interested to hear your answer. If you’re not, you can join the club right here. (Just email me your answer by hitting Reply to the first email I send you.)