Who Determines Your Identity?
by Kelly Givens
One year, in between jobs, I worked as a temporary administrative assistant at a financial planning firm... during tax season. It was as challenging as you might imagine. I had no experience in taxes but suddenly found myself surrounded by tax forms, calculators and clients who expected me to have the answers to all of their tax issues. I might as well have been in a foreign country trying to communicate in a language I barely understood.
I started with grand ambitions: I told myself that I would learn all about taxes; I took an incredibly challenging online tax course, learned a ton about deductions and exemptions, and strove to be cheerful and helpful to my colleagues and our clients. Things were going great - I was exhausted but felt helpful, felt like my boss appreciated me and thought my coworkers were glad to have me around. Until the worst imaginable thing happened.
A customer claimed to have dropped off his taxes to be done, but his paperwork was nowhere to be found. All of the most important documents he owned and had trusted to us had somehow vanished. Worst of all, I had been the person handling the coming and going of most of the client’s paperwork the day it went missing, so the blame fell on me.
I was nauseous with anxiety. I felt the cold condemnation of my coworkers as they repeatedly asked me what I had done with this man’s documents. All I could say over and over was, "I don’t know. I don’t remember taking his paperwork. I am so sorry." I listened as they whispered accusations behind my back. I felt them watching me like a hawk, seeing if I would make any more careless mistakes. Worst of all, my boss was totally stressed out and I felt the weight of everything on me.
I went home that night and cried my eyes out. I prayed fervently that God would somehow miraculously make the documents appear. I prayed for the strength I needed to face work the next day. I truly felt as David did in Psalms 55 when he prayed,
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
Oh, that I had wings of a dove!
I would flee far away and stay in the desert.
All I wanted was to run away and never face my coworkers again. And I couldn’t even think about what the client would say when he found out that all of his tax information was gone.
My husband and I went to Bible study that night, and together our small group prayed over the situation, prayed that the missing documents would be recovered, and prayed for my peace. One person’s prayer in particular stuck out to me:
Father, I pray that Kelly knows her identity is not in what she does or doesn't do, but in what you have done for her. I pray she knows that no amount of mistakes could make her any less your daughter.
Those words were a balm to my wounded spirit. I pictured Jesus holding me, reminding me of his great love for me and that even though I had messed up, my mistakes didn’t define me, he did.
I am a daughter of the King. Being reminded that my identity rests not in my success but in Christ’s sacrifice gave me the courage I needed to face another work day. I realized I had been finding my identity in what other people thought of me and in a job well done, instead of resting in the knowledge that no matter what, I am a beloved, redeemed child of God.
The next day at work, the missing files were found. The client had dropped them off in our overnight drop-off box, and the documents were wedged at the top of the chute. While having my name cleared was a relief, I look back and am more thankful for the lesson God taught me. When it comes to my identity, it’s not what I do or don’t do that defines me, it’s what Christ has done for me.
“He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me.” -Psalm 55:18
Intersecting Faith and Life: Where do you find your identity, in the knowledge that you’re a child of God, or in the things you do or don’t do? Remember, the thing that separates Christianity from all other world religions is that it’s not what we do that saves us, it’s what Christ has done for us. You’re a child of God! Celebrate this today instead of focusing on your successes and failures.