01: The Search for Identity + Meaning

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset If we were seated in a circle in the basement of a church, I might introduce myself like this: Hi, I’m Erin. I’m an identity addict.

That’s right. I search hungrily for meaning in my life, and because I’m always looking for it, I think I see it everywhere. I read it on the glossy covers of magazines in the check out line when I’m at the supermarket. I see it on Pinterest as I hunt down decorating ideas. It was diagnosed in college when I read my psychology textbooks. It is given a numerical value when I look at friends and followers and comments on my latest blog post. And just occasionally, I catch a glimpse of what it might look like to find my identity in Jesus.

See, I’ve been a Christian since the time I was five. In the South where I grew up, you might hear that I had a drug problem -- I was drug to church every time the doors were open. My father sat on the church board, and my mother taught the five and six year old girls on Wednesday nights. And though I have grown up and moved away from home, gone to college, and gotten married, I still faithfully attend and serve on Sunday mornings. But as I’ve gotten older and gained more experience in  “the real world,” it has gotten more difficult to see myself as Christ sees me. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I woke up one morning and started to ask the question who am I? and I’ve been asking it every morning since.

On my good days, when every hair is in place, my skin is clear,  I’ve accomplished the mountain of chores on my to do list and my latest guilty pleasure pop song is playing on the radio, I start to think that I’m pretty great -- essential, even, to my office, my church, and my husband. I start to believe that I am self-sufficient. When I hear of girls who have admitted to having sex before they got married, I think to myself that surely I’m okay, because I was not intimate before marriage. And when I publish the rare blog post full of seething words about how some people at church are way too judgmental and how the Bible belt is not meant to be a noose, you better believe I feel really really self-righteous.

But then, there are the bad days: days when I walk out the door without my pre-packed lunch, days when I forget to answer that email from my supervisor, days when I’m late to meetings. There are nights that I lay awake wondering how in the world I can get it all done (if I am self-sufficient, it is all up to me, right?). I’ve struggled with anxiety and panic attacks and depression. For a time in college, I dealt with self-injury, and thought that the world would just be better off without me.

It was in college that I heard the question that still turns my quest for identity on its head, even now that my cap and gown are buried in the bottom of the closet. I remember it like it was yesterday: the texture of the fabric lining the seats of the chapel, the hum of laughter at his very northern accent as he talked about his own search for meaning and a place in the world. When he asked the question, it was like one of those movie moments where all of the sudden,  I was the only person in the room.

What kind of God would create someone like me?


The conversation starts here: 

Where do you turn in your own search for meaning and identity?  Would you say that that person, place, or thing paints an accurate portrait of who you really are? Why or why not?

{Leave your questions + answers + thoughts in the comments below.}




Some Fine Print:

This is the first of thirty-one installments to be posted throughout the month of October. To view the entire table of contents as it is made available, click here. You can receive the entire series in your inbox for free by subscribing via email (no spam, just my heart by way of weblog). Please feel free to pass these words along to a friend. Sharing is caring!