Habit #7: Joyful people know who (and whose) they are.

My daughter looks just like me, a fact that just plain tickles me.

People have always remarked about our resemblance. It seems that the older she gets the more obvious it becomes. We’ve had people say (and I quote), “Ohmygoodness, you guys are like twins!” Which I think must sound more like a compliment if you’re 52 than it does if you’re 24. I don’t know how my daughter feels about it, but I just love it. I love being her mom, and I love being identified with her.

I am not, however, going to cross the line of crazy like Wendy Brown. Wendy had an unfulfilled dream to be a high school cheerleader. She’d tried out when she was actually in high school but didn’t make the cut so she tried out again when she was 33, posing as her daughter (who I assume was a teen). It would have worked, except that the check she wrote for the cheerleading outfit bounced.

I need to step in here and publicly announce that I will not attempt to steal Claire Marie’s identity in order to become a high school cheerleader.

Not now, not ever.

It is one thing to be told you look like someone. It is another thing entirely to soak up that person’s identity. Of course, we do it. When we aren’t confident in our own identity, we steal it where we can find it. We live vicariously through our children, or we act out co-dependently. We borrow on the happiness of others. I will only be happy if this person is happy. Or worse yet, I will only be happy if I can control the people around me because I need them to behave in certain ways so I can be happy. 

We are like human tofu. We don’t think we have much flavor of our own, so we absorb the flavor of whatever we are around.

We can do a lot of damage that way.  When we aren’t confident in our own identity, we end up stealing from others to get our needs met. What makes the good news of Jesus Christ that much better is that he actually comes as an antidote to this dysfunction.  When we take Christ into our lives, we are given a new identity.  Or maybe it is more accurate to say we are finally exposed to the identity that is rightfully ours, the one imprinted into us at our creation. It is a great relief to find out we don’t have to generate it on our own. It is there for the taking; our part is acceptance.

It is a great relief, too, to find we no longer have to compete for our identity. Jesus gives us a new identity then invites us to live it out boldly, claiming him as our nature and his life as ours. If it is not ours to make happen, nor ours to perfect, then our right response is more surrender than effort. When the focus of our identity is vertical, we no longer feel the need to compete with people and our relationships become more centered on partnership. Our sense of identity breeds confidence, which breeds love, joy, peace … and other fruit of the Holy Spirit. And it moves us away from hate, anxiety and fear.

This is a physical reality. At the back of your head, where your head meets your neck, is where your fear center sits.  This is the first part of your brain to develop, and the most rudimentary. Now put the heel of your hand to your forehead. The front part of our brains is the most developed part; it is where rational thinking happens. This is also where our identity center is. This is where our life purpose is worked out. They say this is also where personal faith is developed.

Hear that.  Faith happens far from our fear center and in the same place as our identity center. Faith, identity and Jesus converge in the most well developed part of us. When I know who (and whose) I am, I no longer feel the need to steal my identity from others. Instead, I am free to live in partnership with them and in joyful surrender to Christ.

How amazing this life is.  And how beautiful our design.

Carolyn Moore

I follow Jesus within the communities of Mosaic Church, Asbury Seminary and the Moore household.