Everyone looks to some source to provide their sense of identity. Identity is essentially how I view myself or who I am as a person. It is how I define myself. It is what I use to decide whether or not I have value. It is also what I use to determine if I am acceptable to myself, God, and others. One source that people look to define themselves, is the approval of certain people, like a father, boss, husband, wife, or children. One example might be looking to a father for our worth. When he approves of us we feel like we are worth something; we feel good and we accept ourselves. But then we lose his approval. We feel worthless. But people are flawed, they do not accurately represent our value. We don’t really gain and lose value based on what others think. Other people are the wrong source; we should not give them the power to define our identity.
Other sources people look to are physical appearance, intelligence, wealth, competence, abilities, grades, success, or moral achievements. The problem of looking to these things, is that they lead to pride when I am doing well and insecurity when I am not. These things do not define us; they are not really “who we are”. They are things about us, and things that we do, but do not make us any more or less valuable. The only true source of our identity is God’s love for us. This truth should provide our worth and value.
Our value is given by God as a gift. It is unchanging. We cannot gain it, and we cannot lose it. We are only valuable because of God’s love. This should be humbling. We are also completely valuable because of God’s love. God’s love actually makes us worthy of respect and high esteem. And we cannot be more or less valuable than anyone else. All people are given the same value by God Himself. God’s love allows us to recognize our high value in spite of our flaws and shortcomings.
So, regardless of our looks, talents, or anything that we do, we can always have a secure Identity. In Christ we can always have the security and confidence that we are enough, we are acceptable, and we are valuable. We do not have to live in fear or anxiety about losing our value. As people loved by God, we have the resource to have all of our personal needs for love, acceptance, and value met by God. Finding our security in Christ allows us to be able to parent well, because when we are completely secure in God’s love for us, we have plenty of love to give to our children.
We are made to be dependent on God’s love to be secure. Being secure in God’s love can be illustrated by a container that is always full, because it is constantly being filled. Looking to other things to fill our need for love is like a container that is always nearly empty, because nothing else can ever really satisfy us. So, the first way that having a secure identity in Christ impacts our parenting, is that our need for love is met, leaving us with an overabundance to share. We know who we are, and we are not looking for anything else to define us. When we have received God’s love, and we are full and secure in that love, we have an overflow of love to give to others. The love that we give to others does not come from us. We are not the source of love, God is.
As parents, our job is to meet the needs our children and love them, not the other way around. When our needs are met in God, we are not looking to our children to meet our needs. Parents can easily confuse the good feeling that they get from their children’s appreciation of them, for a source of value and identity for themselves. We can easily slip into using our children to get what we need, rather than giving children what they need.
As secure people we are not needy for acceptance, approval, or praise. We are free to put others first. We can love sacrificially and not fear that our own needs will not be met. We can discipline without having the primary concern be the loss of our children’s love for us. We are not afraid of our children’s anger toward us, or losing their approval. We are not threatened by our children’s mistakes. Their mistakes don’t define us. We are also not angered by their mistakes. We don’t need them to behave well for our sake. We don’t need them to be good to make us feel good about ourselves. When we are secure we are not easily wounded by the things our children say and do.
(See Next Post for Part 2)