One of the very first times I remember questioning my identity was when I was only five years old. My childhood best friend and I lived in the same neighborhood. We played every day together. And, of course, our families went to the same church. Around Christmastime, like many others, our church had a Christmas program planned, and they needed a little girl to play a role in the performance. I can still remember the way my heart hurt when I found out they didn’t choose me and had chosen my friend for the role. But the hurt I felt was not from them choosing my friend; the hurt was because all I could hear in that moment was that they didn’t choose me. True or not, at just five years old, I thought very clearly: The reason they must not have chosen me is because I’m chubby and not cute like her. While I don’t feel the same pain and hurt today, as a mom to my own little girl now, replaying that memory is still heartbreaking to me.
I can’t help but think about my daughter. I never want her to doubt her identity or her value, but because she’s human, I know she’ll ask that question throughout her life. My prayer now is not that she would never ask the question, but that she will always know Who to ask.
A Little Pro Tip
No matter who you are, how you see yourself, or where you’ve come from, there’s about a 99.99% chance you’ve asked this question before. Make no mistake, this is a loaded question. Some of us ask ourselves, some of us ask the people around us, some of us ask people we don’t even know on social media and, in desperate times, some of us do all the above.
The question “Who am I?” doesn’t always sound like those three little words. It comes in all kinds of packages: thoughts, thought patterns, feelings of doubt, and often anxiety. “Who am I?” often looks like comparing gifts, talents, abilities, looks, calling, or story. It can mean comparing your family, how you were raised, or even your perspective of yourself to that of someone else. Whether we realize it or not, we ask the question “Who am I?” many times throughout our lives and in many different seasons. Some of us, when we might be walking through an especially difficult season, even ask ourselves this question multiple times each day. As a culture and a people, I believe we’re crying out for the answer to this question more than we ever have before.
So, you might be thinking, I ask myself this all the time. I want to begin our journey together by reminding you that asking questions, even this one, is not bad! But asking this question to the wrong person could be detrimental.
I used to believe discovering who we are was something we figured out when we were young, but I realized with every new season, I was rediscovering who I am again and again. Throughout my life, I’ve watched others far beyond me in years some cases, never truly know who they are at all. As women, we go through many seasons that cause us to re-ask the question “Who am I?” Not to mention the pressure of social media and its access to people and women across the world, which has made count- less women feel less valuable, less original, less worthy, and less captivating.
This three-word question can quickly feel over- whelming and all-consuming when we don’t have an answer. In some seasons, many of us become so crippled by the lack of an answer that it completely transforms the way we think, feel, and act.
One of the most life-changing moments for me came from asking God this question at 22 years old. I was living out a dream of being a professional backup dancer, traveling the world, experiencing different places, and making memories. But this dream wasn’t as perfect as I imagined it would be. I was incredibly confused and lacked peace, not to mention I was also in a relationship that was causing that confusion. Throughout that season of life and through a relationship that lasted four years, you could definitely say I was asking the right question to the wrong person. And, because I was asking the right question to the wrong person, I remained confused and anxious.
So, I want to give you a little pro-tip, straight from my hard-won reality to your heart! Whether you’re 15, 55, or 95 and reading this right now, you will never discover who you truly are by asking more questions about who you are.
Discovering your true identity, your God-given DNA, and your personality — what makes you and shakes you — will only happen by discovering more about the One who made you. Whether you’re reading this and believing in God or doubting every part of Him, I can promise you that He is the way to the contentment and peace with yourself that you’re searching for.
Our Truest Self and Deepest Purpose
At 22 years old, I decided I was done living in the in-between. I wanted to live in the fullness that Jesus came to give me and died to lavish upon me, so I ended the relationship, quit my dream job, moved to a new city, made new friends, and began believing for God’s very best for my life. To that point in my life, those were the hardest decisions I had ever made, but now I can tell you that they led to the best seasons of my life.
Completely starting over caused me to ask the question, “God, who am I?” At least this time, I was asking the right person! I had held on so tightly to the things I was doing and the people I was doing them with that, without them, I truly didn’t know who I was.
One day, as I sat in my apartment in Nashville, God reminded me of a video my mom had sent me months earlier. In the video, I was about three years old, standing in the playroom of my home. I grabbed the karaoke mic and said with great confidence, “I love Jesus.” In that moment, God was gently reminding me that the most important title I would ever have is simply being “His,” a daughter.
What does a three-year-old have to offer? What important thing can a three-year-old achieve? Not much. And that was the point. He didn’t want me to achieve anything, be anything, or do anything for Him. He didn’t care how much Scripture I had memorized, how many followers I had on social media, how many people approved or disapproved of the relationship I was in, or how successful I was by my or anyone else’s standards. God just wanted me to know whose I was — I was His. And when we know we are His, we discover our truest self and our deepest purpose.
Now, let me be clear — I’m not asking you to quit your job, move to a new town, or completely start your life over. But I do want to ask if there’s something, anything, holding you back from being who you truly are. I know that can be a bit of an overwhelming question, so it’s okay if you don’t know right now…
Although my story involved moving and starting over in many areas of life, I can tell you that it wasn’t all about those external changes. The physical changes were a tangible result of letting go and letting Jesus show me who He is and who I am because of Him.
You’re In A Beautiful Place
Maybe you’re in a new season of life, and you feel like you’re back at the starting line. Maybe you just moved to college, or maybe your kids just left the house and you’re rediscovering life as an empty nester. Maybe you just got married or maybe you’re pregnant, and your body is changing like crazy. Maybe you’re a grandma now, or maybe life threw you a curveball you didn’t see coming, and you don’t even know what to call the season you’re in. If I could put my hand over your forehead right now, the way my dad always would, and speak peace over your mind and rest over your heart, that’s exactly what I would do.
The truth is, though you may not feel like it now, you’re in a beautiful place. You’ve got a really good Friend ready to walk with you, ready to work with you, ready to show you who He is and who you are because of Him. Whether it’s for the first time or whether it’s for the hundredth time, it’s never a bad idea to ask your Father, to ask Jesus, to remind you who you are.
Taken from Daughter: Becoming Who You Already Are by Laney Rene
Laney Rene is a wife, mom, and founder of The One He Loves, a ministry which exists so every woman can be refreshed, encouraged, and reminded of Jesus’ loving-kindness toward them. She’s the author of the new book, Daughter: Becoming Who You Already Are. Laney is known for sharing the goodness of Jesus in a way that is not just inviting but also captivating. After walking through a painful season and into a redemption story only Jesus could come up with, Laney couldn’t keep the good news to herself. Today, as a worship artist, author, and speaker, Laney continues to find creative ways to share the heart of Jesus with everyone she can!