Adopting Roles or Identities
All of us have multiple roles that we assume each day. Even each hour. These different roles all come with differing expectations and are met with various levels of success and failure.
Father, son, husband, lover, helper, volunteer, blogger, director, coach, friend, and announcement guy are a few of my own roles. Have you thought about the multitude of roles in your own life?
For everyone, the danger is when these roles become components of our identity. As has been mentioned before on this blog, our identity is our sense of self, what makes us valuable or acceptable. When that identity or part of our identity is challenged, the result is not simply a failure – something to be grieved over, learned from, or done again – it now becomes something that affects our sense of worth.
Example: If my identity, my sense of significance, is tied up in being a father, then what happens when my daughter acts out at a restaurant? Or won’t go to bed on time? Simple stuff. Yet, it becomes something more than a challenge to my role. Within me it becomes a statement of worth. Because it is a failure of identity, I am unacceptable. And I experience shame.
On the other hand, if my identity is secure in Christ, then my fatherhood is a role. My daughter’s actions, while possibly difficult to cope with at times and a source of frustration, will not cause me to doubt my significance or acceptability – those are rooted in the only fixed source, Jesus.
With an identity in Christ and role of father, I can more easily accept that I am not responsible for my daughter’s responses. Or I can be convicted of weaknesses in my parenting, be vulnerable, confess my weakness, and experience change. My weakness is not tied to my worth. Instead of shame I can experience healthy guilt.
Is an identity rooted in Christ easy? No, I don’t mean it to sound so. It requires a daily denial of self – my pride and trying to placate my broken image on my own. More than that, our old, false self will battle the new self in Christ. I’ll try to add components to my identity. As if Jesus were not enough, I also need to be a good husband or follow all the rules.
Identities outside of Christ are attempts to make my own significance.
Where do you try to find significance outside of Christ?