Not the Real Me

When you have a chronic illness, it can feel like people don’t know the real you. I remember when one of my flatmates made a passing comment about how I wasn’t a particularly sociable person – she wasn’t being rude or mean, just making an observation. At the time I was working half days, so she came home every day to see me lying on the couch snoozing or reading or watching TV. And if she or our other flatmate had people round in the evening, she saw that I’d slip out and head to bed early every time.

But I felt like telling her, “That’s not the real me! The real me loves to hang out with people, loves to do stuff with groups of friends, loves to host people for dinner and have people over for games nights, loves to stay up late chatting.” She’d only seen what my illness had made me: someone without energy, with a foggy mind and a sluggish body, needing lots of sleep, wishing I could do stuff with friends but too exhausted to do so. And it felt like part of my identity had been taken away from me.

But I’ve realised that actually my identity hasn’t changed. My identity is a person with inherent dignity and worth because I am made in the image of God; humble dignity because it has nothing to do with my effort, but dignity nonetheless. But more than that, I am a child of God, restored to a position of dignity and honour in Christ, accepted despite my rebellion against God, because God dealt with Christ as I deserved and deals with me as Christ deserves. That is my identity. That is the real me.

And that will never change. Other things that influence how I view myself and how others view me may well change, whether that’s energy levels, sociability, career, hobbies, friendships, relationships or many other aspect. And sometimes that change is unwanted and forced on me by circumstances outside of my control. Yet my core identity remains the same and will never be taken away me. It’s bigger than me; it comes from beyond me and points to a greater reality. The real me is a child of God, redeemed in Christ, living to glorify him.

If identity in Christ is a new concept for you, or one you don’t feel you fully understand, get hold of Mirror Mirror by Graham Beynon. It’s an excellent easy to read book, helping you think through what shapes your view of yourself, how that compares to God’s view of us, and how the wonderful truth of the gospel is a far better identity than we could every wish for. 

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