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Identity Crisis

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2019-12-26-DSC_6662-Bill Bryant-square-smallMost people don’t know this, but during my career in telecom I travelled extensively on business. Across the years I worked in 30 states, flew over a million miles, and drove thousands more.

I usually enjoyed going to different locations, but some were a challenge. Occasionally I’d end up in an environment that made me wonder “what’s a simple Oklahoma boy doing in a place like this?!”

A research facility near Chicago was one of those places. The campus was filled with brilliant mathematicians, programmers, and innovators of all kinds. To me it was exciting, and more than a little intimidating!

My job on that trip was to make sure data collection software functioned as expected. In those days I had a reputation for being an excellent system tester. But once inside the building, I felt outclassed by all the highly-trained experts. I began doubting my value to the project. That led to a mini-identiy crisis.

The struggle to find an identity gets a lot of attention these days. You hear it pretty often in the news: someone identifies as a particular type of person, or feels connected with a certain group.

The truth is, identity crises are nothing new. They have been around since the beginning! In fact, it was an identity crisis that caused us humans to become separated from God!

From the moment they were created, Adam and Eve had the best of everything. One day the devil slyly suggested something was missing from their lives. Next, he implied that God was not being honest, and that he was holding out.

Adam and Eve bought into the devil’s reasoning. That led to a huge identity crisis for both of them:

The serpent hissed, “God knows very well that the instant you eat it [the forbidden fruit] you will become like him, for your eyes will be opened…” The woman was convinced. She ate some of the fruit and…her husband ate it too. Suddenly they became aware of their nakedness, and were embarrassed. 

- Genesis 3:4-7 (TLB)

The Apostle Paul also struggled with his identity. As a young man, he thought he had “found himself” when he pledged to stamp out Christianity. Paul was very good at tormenting Christians. While on a journey to oppress believers in Syria, Jesus set him straight.

After he learned who he was in Christ, Paul never backed down. Look at these words he wrote at the end of his life…

I am suffering here in jail, and I am certainly not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust…

- 2 Timothy 1: 12 (TLB)

Sara Billups, a contemporary author in Seattle, knew her identity in Christ but kept it hidden. Then she made the decision to share her beliefs with others. Here's why...

After years of “playing it cool” with my unbelieving friends, I can tell you: It only gets weirder to talk about faith the longer you wait.

Tired of being an “chameleon Christian,” Ms. Billups owned up to who she was. Since then she’s experienced some awkward moments, but along the way she often found she was

“...given the space to speak candidly about Jesus..."

and that

“the people you think are against you might actually be for you!” [1]

I believe one of our biggest challenges in 2020 is to live in squarely in the identity Christ bought for us. When we do this we can have confidence in who we are, even if we encounter doubts, apathy or opposition. Why? Because we are in Christ, and Jesus never changes!

There’s a happy ending to my experience at the research facility. After a couple of days, I began to see my skills were valuable to the project. My abilities complemented those of the research staff.

In the end, my manager was happy with the work done there. But the lesson I learned about trusting who I am in God was even better than his approval. The data collector stopped working years ago, but my place in Christ goes on!

[1] My New Year’s Resolution: To Call Myself a Christian in Public, by Sara Billups


You may have seen Bill photographing Sunday morning services at LifeSpring. He became the church Communications Director after retiring from a global telecommunications company. At LifeSpring he has the pleasure of serving with the 2nd Impressions Team to share about the church through text, email, letters, social and electronic media. He's especially pleased to point out his blog photo was taken by one of his seven-year-old grandsons!

2 Comments

Thank you for sharing, Bill!
Loved it

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