Reclaiming Lost Identity
written by Amanda Whitehead
I came to believe certain things about myself as I navigated my school years, unwittingly attempting to find definition. None of them were spoken over me by my parents or loved ones; I picked up and accepted them as I learned the ugly art of comparison. Carrying these falsehoods around like a heavy dark shroud, I spent the bulk of my teens and twenties trying to be perfect…to be extraordinarily productive…in order to earn value. I hid myself in busy-ness. I navigated a few significant broken relationships. I arranged my world to foster the delusion that anything lacking was lacking because I simply didn’t have time for it. Every choice I made, every motivation, was silently influenced by my warped identity. I was set up for surface success, but it was all built on a foundation of failure and misery.
Eventually the hurt and loneliness I felt led to the discovery of an emotional light switch. When it wasn’t convenient to feel, I learned to turn it off. I thought I’d found a secret that made me powerful – feeling pain was in fact optional. Unfortunately, control of the switch is eventually lost if used improperly or too frequently. Mine wound up stuck in the off position and I found myself entering my thirties in complete numbness with no idea how to bring about an emotional thaw.
In medicine, numbing agents are given to patients when they are in pain too great to bear. These drugs are only useful for a limited amount of time because while they are capable of blocking pain, they block everything else as well. A handshake, a pat on the back, an embrace – all of those sensations are lost to the numbed area. Emotional numbness is the same. It is not selective; it takes the good with the bad and leaves you with nothing. The existence of an emotionally numbed person is barren, flat, and empty. It is not life.
Somewhere along the way, I lost myself. But God is always faithful. Even though I was too numb to hear his voice, he sent someone across my path who noticed my handicapped emotional life and set me on a path toward healing. My process involved a doctor and supplements, prayer and forgiveness, and a journal and rest. Before long my emotional life was restored with some pain to face and walk through, but mostly with great joy that I’d missed out on for years.
But my story doesn’t end there. Had God simply given me that thaw, eventually I would have frozen up again. We had to deal with the root. Together, we began a most exciting journey – one that destroyed the shroud of a false identity I hauled around for most of my life, replacing it with who I really am…the person Daddy says I am. I call it a journey because it’s not a job I think we can complete in this life. God will have new things to speak over me for as long as I am willing to listen. With each new facet discovered, I become more whole, more fulfilled, and more free…and it is wonderful!
Identity informs our entire life: how we view ourselves affects the way we relate to others, our relationship with God, the goals we are willing to set, the dreams we dare to pursue…everything. We cannot afford to get it wrong. I encourage you to regularly find a place where you can be alone, bring a pen and paper, and ask God to tell you how he sees you. Then be ready to get embarrassed, because he sure does love gushing on and on about his kids! It’s time for all of us to reclaim our lost or stolen identities and begin building lives of wholeness based on who our Creator made us to be!Amanda Whitehead is a vocational minister serving at Mount Hope Church. A singing, acting, and painting Genesis 1 creative, she loves bringing order to things and authoring her blog, girl in process. Passionate about nurturing creativity and drawing out God-given identity in others, Amanda remains endlessly thankful to the dear ones who have done the same for her.
Follow Amanda on Twitter: @AmandaJanal.