Faith Identity

Identity-Who Am I?

It all began with a thought, I am forgotten. It lingered. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. No one notices me. That morphed into even more soul-wrenching thoughts.  I’m trash. Why am I even here? The more I thought of me compared to others I know, I came up short every time. Left to myself, my future looked bleak. Seeds of discouragement were rapidly taking me to the pit of depression. It doesn’t help that my melancholy/phlegmatic disposition has a bent towards such spiraling-down thoughts. Lying in bed, night after night, staring at the ceiling. Wet eyes. Alone. 

I Didn’t See This Coming!

My late teens and 20s were filled with such recurring thoughts. The summer before my senior year of high school was hit by a massive tragedy. My good friend, Kevin, was killed in a car-train accident. Of the 8 kids in the car, 6 were killed instantly. Kevin, 16, didn’t see the train.  Here I am, 16, going into my last year of high school, ready to have the best year ever, and I’m hit with this excruciating blow out of nowhere! I remember holing up in my bedroom for two days crying. No one could seem to comfort me. You can read more about it in my book, Mentoring Warriors, but suffice to say out of that horrific pain, God grabbed my attention like never before!  Sixteen-year-olds are not supposed to die. This renewed faith seemed to at first, propel me into the fall semester with a hope I had never experienced before.  David was now on this new path, this new way of living. It all seemed too good to be true!  

The Dark Semester of My Soul

Then, out of nowhere, stuff hit the fan! What I thought was a new-found confidence was crumbling right before my eyes. By the end of the first 9-weeks, my grades were suffering big-time. I, the honor-student was getting a D in Algebra! I was struggling in jazz band. Those improvisations just weren’t coming. I lost some challenges in the concert band, moving down a few seats in the trombone section. When it came to girls, I was torn between this lust-driven desire to get close to them and yet at the same time scared to death that there was nothing of substance in my life that would even attract them to me. By semester’s end, I was increasingly considering suicide. Why am I even here? I’m such a failure. I can’t do anything right. Even my supposed new faith in God was disconnected from the pain I felt. 

I remember watching some made for TV movie around Christmas time. It was about a young man, 17, who committed suicide. It showed the pain it caused his family and friends for him taking his own life. There wasn’t a Christian theme of any kind in that movie, but God used it to wake me up. To get my attention. How could I do that to my family?  My friends? The Spring semester was a bit better. My grades improved from their all-time low. My daily time in God’s Word started to make some connections with my heart, with the situations I was facing. Still struggling with my identity, for the first time I felt a twinge of hope.

What’s Your Deal?

There comes a time in a guy’s life where he needs to hone in on his purpose, his reason for existence. Why are you here? What is your purpose? Why do you live in this time of history? Why were you not alive a hundred years ago? Even closer to the soul, why did you even wake up this morning? What good can you do? Whose life would be crushed if you weren’t here? Is your faith even real? The list of questions a guy finds stirring in his head can bring him down fast. Believe me, I know.

Lies

Let me say this as straight up as I can. The fact you are asking those questions of yourself is a good thing. You can’t imagine how many guys go through life never truly contemplating their existence. The challenge is if you ask those questions of yourself disconnected from your faith in God, you will spiral out of control like a jet plane nose-diving to Earth. Just like I did in high school. Satan has this way of infusing lies into our thinking. You’re good for nothing. You can’t do anything right. You are trash. Failure! Junk!  The Bible talks a lot about spiritual battles we all face. It’s the supernatural fight for your soul. Satan knows that if you would surrender yourself to the purposes of God for your life, you would be a supernatural force to be reckoned with. You and Christ make an awesome team!

Rethinking Your Identity

Before you blow me off by thinking all this talk about identity is so ethereal, so nebulous, hear me out. What you think of yourself impacts EVERY aspect of your existence. Everything from your attitude towards work, education, to how you speak with people, how you treat women, how you dress, even how you groom yourself and treat your body. What you think of yourself plays right into your finances, time-management and what digital media you consume. And, it definitely affects your relationship with God; whether you have a non-existent to a casual relationship with Him, or if you are tight with Jesus.

We are going to take next week’s post to dive deeper into this issue of identity, but for this week, I want to steer you to some key thoughts about identity that make a radical effect on who you are. 

  • What God thinks about you trumps what anyone else thinks of you. The God of the Universe knows you by name. You are created by Him for this time in history. He has a desire for you to be in a living, on-going relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. 

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3 ESV

  • God longs for the spirit He made in you. Not only does God know you by name, but He also longs for you. His every thought towards you is precious. 

Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? James 4:5 ESV

  • There is a direct correlation to what you think of yourself and your willingness to yield to the Holy Spirit. My experience has shown me that as I distance myself from an intimate walk with the Spirit, my identity tanks. Conversely, as I focus on keeping in step with the Spirit, my identity realigns with who He says I am. 

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 ESV

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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