Over the past eight years I have had the privilege of discipling and caring for the souls of college students here at Lancaster Bible College. Often, this formation comes in the form of helping young men and women navigate the beginning stages of discovering their true identity.
Now, identity is a tricky thing. At its core, identity answers the question, “Who are we?” Discovering however, goes way beyond asking a question. It is a complex journey of sifting through each person’s heritage, experiences, education and even the language we grew up hearing. Our heritages shape who we are. For the good, as well as for the bad. Unconsciously, we make decisions based off repeated messages ingrained in our minds from those we grew up hearing. Most of us use these embedded messages to choose the type of work we will go after, how we speak to our children, how we relate to our co-workers and even how we spiritually form others.
A few weeks ago I came across a powerful clip produced by Dove, called “Real Beauty Sketches.” During my time watching I was impacted by the drastic difference in how one perceives themselves as compared to another. It also begged another question, “Is there a third perspective, which is completely different than the first two?” Go ahead and watch, reflect by clicking here.
A few years back I worked with one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. She had more gifts and talents in her little pinky then I had in my whole body. Yet, every time I complimented her or said something nice, she immediately shot down the compliment with a derogatory remark about herself. Messages and labels from our past are extremely powerful. If held hostage to them, they can often keep us from experiencing a deeper healing in our own souls. Part of healthy formation is healing emotionally from our pasts.
We assume that others see us the same or worse then we see ourselves. However, research proves otherwise. Almost 90 percent of the time, those around you and I have a healthier perspective of your sketch than you do. Our need for listening to the broader community of God is essential to our formation and refining our own perspectives.
While watching the Dove video I was struck by the question “How would a third sketch look created by God?” Could you imagine! The ability to see yourself as God sees yourself. All throughout scripture we see the concept of the Imago Dei, the image of God imprinted into each one of us. I sense my third sketch would be even profoundly clearer then the first two sketches.
Before we even talk about approaching the topic of identity with our students, we should pause to reflect on it for ourselves. Ask yourself the following questions:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10