This is a very deep word about knowing our identity. Karen Hardin shares from her own life story and how God healed her identity...or the lack there of...through a series of events.
Yes, the enemy would like nothing more than for you to not know who you are and whose you are! As a child of God, YOU are His and His alone!
I encourage you to read through this and let it bring any healing in your identity...as God has great need of you to walk out your identity in Him! (To Subscribe to the Elijah List subscribe here.)
Living Under Broken Perceptions
"It's too bad Karen isn't pretty..."
I was stunned at the comment, but even more stunned because of who spoke those words about me. It was my father. I stared at him, too shocked to comment or even cry at that moment (although plenty of tears came later). Thankfully, even though I was shocked into silence, my grandmother and husband were not.
"I don't know what's wrong with you," my grandmother spoke up first, fire dancing in her normally gentle eyes, "but your daughter is beautiful."
"She is gorgeous," my husband agreed immediately right on the heels of her comment. His arms on the table, he leaned in closer to my father as if challenging him to a dual.
I don't remember the rest of the conversation from that luncheon – only the words of my father which echoed over and over again in my head and heart... "Karen isn't pretty."
I was in my thirties at the time, and had struggled most of my life with self-worth. As a high functioning Type A personality, I have always been put in leadership roles and have received many comments regarding my strength, yet inside my world it looked much different because I had been denied the one thing we all need...identity.
"...identity and destiny are wrapped into one. As long as we achieve our value only through what we do, we don't truly understand who we are."
Identity theft is rampant in our world today. But I believe where this is taking place in the natural, it is simply a mirror of what has taken place in the spiritual realm where many have had their identity stolen and withheld. It is time for a turnaround.
Where Do We Begin to Restore Stolen Identity?
Fathers are the ones who impart identity to their children. That is not to remove mothers from the equation by any means. As a mother we impart much to our children. We are usually the first to recognize natural gifts and get a glimpse of their destiny. We train and teach. We speak words of encouragement and hope. We apply Band-Aids to scraped knees when they are young and as they get older to wounded hearts. And while many of us cook and use the family dinner table to instill a place of cohesion for our tribe, what simmers in our kitchens cannot hold a candle to what simmers in our heart poured out as prayers for our kids and their future.
Fathers, on the other hand, are given the role of leaders, protectors and providers. Yet when they don't fulfill their God-given role in the lives of their children, it can leave their offspring to wander through life much like a leaf floating in the wind. With each gust of air they are blown from one destination to another in search of a place to belong. When identity and value are not given, children will embark on a search to fill that gaping hole, for within each of us is an in-born desire to know who we are, why we are here, and that we are special.
Fathers are the ones called to instill identity, because they are a reflection of the Father—the One who created each of us uniquely special, who gives us identity. Sadly, many of us never got that memo.
You Can't Give What You Don't Possess
Before my dad is crucified in the minds of readers, I need to say that he loved me. He just had a very hard time expressing it. Reflecting back over his life there were many instances where he experienced rejection. He had a father who was an alcoholic and non-affirming. His parents divorced long before divorce was common or accepted. He carried within him rejection that lashed out in anger at each additional rejection. This brought on himself the very thing he despised – more rejection. Once older, when I could process these realities, I remembered stories he sometimes shared of people who spoke out against him, walked out on him or stabbed him in the back.
My father was not a perfect man and some of these reactions came due to his actions, yet I saw a man who lived with great pain. My father hadn't received identity, affirmation or value, and so he didn't know how to pass it on to his kids. And through the years as I searched for my own identity, I have come to recognize this important lesson: You can't give what you don't possess. My father didn't possess identity and so he didn't know how to impart it. What he did impart was his same struggle for identity into all three of his children. (Photo via Unsplash)
It's Time For a Turnaround
I have come to understand that my story is not unique, but one shared by multitudes who have had identity withheld. This lack of identity stems from a society where too often fathers have abandoned their children and single mothers have had to carry the load alone. Statistics reveal that one in four kids under the age of eighteen will be raised without a father involved.  Even in homes where the father is physically present, sometimes they are emotionally absent or uninvolved. Or perhaps they are like my father, unable to pass on something they do not possess themselves.
For years, men have been devalued and emasculated by television programs and movies which portray them as foolish and lacking strength. Is it any wonder that we have such a crisis of identity and gender in our nation today with increasing numbers of transgender and pangender people swirling in a world of confusion? This is a spiritual crisis that has manifested in the physical realm. It is about identity.
"But I Don't Have a Problem With Identity..."
If you would have asked me a few years ago if I had an identity issue, I would have laughed. Of course not! I knew who I was and I could spout it out with the best of them. I was a "child of God" the "righteousness of God in Christ." I understood that God was my Father and I trusted Him as such...or so I thought. But in reality, the years in which I had not received value from my earthly father had taken their toll. I may have trusted God in my mind, but in my actions and emotions I was constantly fighting for and working to attain self-worth. The problem is that the more we fight to achieve something, the more elusive it can become.
Perhaps this rings true in your heart. Perhaps, like me, identity was never imparted to you and simple acts of kindness and affirmation were withheld. Take a moment and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you feel a constant need or drive to achieve that promotion or award that will prove your worth?
2. Do you move from relationship to relationship or community to community seeking a place to belong?
3. Or perhaps do you stay within a community, but feel you are on the outside looking in?
These are all signals of issues of identity that has been withheld. If that is you, there is good news. Even if the impartation of identity did not come from your natural father, it is waiting for you from your heavenly Father.
Spiritual Slavery to Sonship
"Fathers are the ones called to instill identity, because they are a reflection of the Father–the One who created each of us uniquely special, who gives us identity."
I remember talking with a counselor a few years ago regarding a difficult season in my life. We had met several times when she commented on my leadership and strength. "You have no idea..." I stated, feeling anything but strong. I looked at her with irritation. If I was so strong, why was I there?
She smiled with compassion as she instructed me to read a book, "Spiritual Slavery to Sonship" by Jack Frost. Okay, I knew that stuff and had been raised with it all my life. "Humor me," she requested. "Call me and reschedule once you've read it."
Over the next two weeks I read the book. And I wept. I saw myself on every page. It connected missing pieces of the puzzle where I had struggled for so long. Why had no one ever spoken into the issue for me before?
God is Stepping in to Rewrite Our Identities
Although raised in the church, I had never understood or received my identity from my heavenly Father because I had never received it from my natural father. Where others must certainly have noticed my issues as a result of missing identity, unfortunately no one ever took the time to speak into the masquerade of my "strength" as I became the overachiever. Yet all the signs were there. But where our natural fathers fail, and even where leaders around us fail, God Himself will step in.
Once my eyes were opened, my heart was finally ready to receive and understand. From that moment God began to unravel the mystery that had been hidden for so long, my identity. And everything changed. No longer was life a battle for acceptance to prove myself by what I did. I no longer had to prove anything. I no longer had to receive affirmation, "likes" or a pat on the back. Don't get me wrong, approval is always welcomed, but it wasn't essential. Why? Because I had His approval from deep, deep inside.
I believe that this is the area of greatest battle in society today. For when our identity is stolen (or never imparted to us), it is almost impossible for us to achieve our destiny. Why? Because identity and destiny are wrapped into one. As long as we achieve our value only through what we do, we don't truly understand who we are.
You Are Mine, I Have Summoned You By Name
If you feel lost and unable to discover what you were created to do – your destiny – perhaps what you really seek is your identity.
"But now, this is what the Lord says – He who created you, He who formed you, Israel: 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.'" (Isaiah 43:1)
"For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb." (Psalm 139:13)
I have summoned you by name, you are Mine. That statement should set us in awe. The Creator, who is in fact our Father says, "You are Mine." (Photo via Unsplash)
If identity has been withheld from you, and simple acts of kindness and affirmation denied through your journey in life, my prayer for you is that you too can begin to walk a new road to your identity. Here are a few simple steps on how to begin:
1. Simply take the time to sit before Him and relax.
Often, we come to Him only when we have a need or prayer. Instead make time in your schedule to just sit with Him as a Father and friend. You have nothing to prove with Him for He accepts you exactly as you are. As you sit with Him in that quiet place, let His love and acceptance wash over you. In the safety of His presence, there is no need to fight for placement, approval or affirmation. Even if others refuse to offer kindness or value, which will happen, their approval or lack thereof doesn't define who you are. God has already done that and He says, "You are Mine."
2. Ask Him what He says about you.
Too often we continue to rewind and play conversations in our head where someone has said something derogatory about us. It can shape the way we see ourselves and how we then respond to others. We cannot afford to embrace or entertain anything that someone else says about us, that God does not say about us. Remember, what He says about you is for good. Even when He corrects us, it is never with a whip, but with loving kindness.
3. Walk into your destiny.
Once we embrace who and Whose we are, we can begin to walk out why we are here and what we are to do. What you do is not who you are. We cannot confuse our call with our identity. They are not the same and yet we cannot walk out what we are called to do until we understand who we are. Once our identity is secured firmly in the Rock, we are able to embrace the gifts He has placed within us to reach those around us.
Reflection: Have you struggled to find that place where you fit? Could it be that at the core of that issue is missing identity?
Let's pray: "Lord, help me to understand that You made me just as I am and that nothing I can do will make You love me more...or less. Help me to embrace the identity You have given me and fulfill my destiny. Help me to lay down my need for affirmation apart from You and help me to recognize that it is not what I do that makes me valuable, but simply who I am." (To Subscribe to the Elijah List subscribe here.)
 Single Mother Guide, https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/ Accessed October 30, 2016.
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Karen Hardin is an author, minister and literary agent. She is called to exhort, encourage and help raise up the remnant. She desires to empower those who have grown weary so they can reposition to walk in identity and destiny. Her work has appeared in "USA Today," "World Net Daily," "Outlook Magazine," "Charisma," "CBN.com," and more. Karen has a passion to help others reach their highest potential and achieve their dreams with the message God has given them. She and her husband, Kevin, make their home in Oklahoma along with their three kids.
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