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There’s a lot of talk about knowing your “why” in your business and life. “When you know your WHY, you’ll know the WAY” is a famous quote by thought leader and author Michael Hyatt. Simon Sinek, author and TED speaker, says in his book Start With Why, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Their message boils down to purpose. Why do you do what you do? Knowing your why, your purpose, is essential to living a meaningful life as well as running a successful business. I’d like to propose that before you can pinpoint and articulate your purpose, you must dig deeper. You must know your true identity.
If you don’t know your identity then you’ll either be emulating someone you admire and living from a false self or you’ll be wandering, lost in a fog of confusion, pushed and pulled whichever way by influencers in your life. I can speak to this because I’ve walked both paths. Most of my life I spent making decisions that I thought would make others happy and make me worthy of their approval. I also emulated people that I admire in life and business who appeared to be loved, accepted, and successful. When I realized that even trying my very best still didn’t earn me acceptance I drifted into questioning, wandering, feeling lost because for the first time it was clear to me that I didn’t know my life’s purpose and the unique calling that God has placed on my life. The heart of the matter was that I didn’t know my true identity.
The journey to finding my identity didn’t begin the day I realized I didn’t truly know what it was. It began a long time ago. The culture, the education system, peers, community members, family, the church: they all attempted to interpret my identity for me. Most were well-meaning and partially accurate, but leaving much to be desired. Identity is the foundation that purpose is built upon. Without a strong foundation of identity, purpose in life and business is liable to destruction when the storms of life come. If only partial truths are present, it’s like building a house on a foundation of sand rather than a foundation of rock. You see, sand comes from the rock, but it’s broken into tiny pieces, fragmented and divided, weak and soft, and does not provide a strong foundation. Pieces of truth won’t sustain you when the storms of life come.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27.
I’m still in the process of fully discovering my identity. I believe it’s a life-long process because as I learn more about the heart of God I learn more about my identity in Him. However, I want to share with you how I’ve begun to live out of a fuller understanding of my identity that has provided me with freedom, life, and joy like I never thought possible.
First, I began to read scripture as it is: God’s love letter to His creation. I was raised in the church. Some church cultures teach that scripture is like a guide book to “live rightly”. Like we need to “shape up”, be righteous, memorize scripture, (I could go on…) because Jesus gave his life to save us. But that comes from a heart of trying to earn God’s approval, which YOU ALREADY HAVE. Knowing that I already have God’s approval because of Jesus was like laying down 100 pounds of baggage that the church and other Christians put on my shoulders that Jesus never asked me to carry. I began to live in freedom and grace. A byproduct of living in that truth was more strength and energy TO SERVE in the places that God has uniquely called me to and created me for.
Second, I let God begin to heal the wounds of lies that I’ve carried about my identity. I wrote a blog post in the fall of 2014 about the time that God exposed the big one to me. I lived with the lie that “I’m not good enough” for as long as I can remember. It was so a part of my heart and who I had become that the realization of it was like the wall of a city coming down in my life. I felt exposed and naked to God and everyone else around me for the first time. God is teaching me that what the enemy has told me I need to cover up (my heart) is the very thing that is most beautiful to Him. He is teaching me that my heart is the very thing that this world needs.
Third, I am asking God what He says about me. Individually, uniquely, intimately as his daughter, his friend, his bride in Christ. I would call these moments encounters with God. I truly believe that you cannot have a personal relationship with Him without this. And I believe with my whole heart that He wants to tell you who you are to Him. Of all the people in history, the present, and in the future, He created you and loves you uniquely. He pursues you individually. He DOES still speak, though I have not yet heard His audible voice. Our hearts are His dwelling place. Learn to trust your heart that He has made new or can make new if you haven’t met Him yet.
I encourage you to do the hard work, the heart-work to dig into your identity in Christ. Know that scripture is His love letter to you. Let Him heal the wounds of your past and present. Ask Him who He says you are. Discover your true identity and His purpose for you. Your “why” will flow effortlessly from that place. Live in freedom and grace, full of life and joy!
If this resonated with you in any way I would LOVE to hear from you! Are there lies you’re living with that are keeping you from living out your God-given purpose? What has God already helped you to overcome? Please reach out to me through my contact form or email me directly. I’d love to encourage you and pray for you in your relationship with Our Father and in your life and business! If you are reading this and feeling like you don’t know God in this way, but would like to, I’d love to talk with you! Share this message with a friend who may need this encouragement today.