I paused, taking a moment’s break from my journal entry.
Why was this word continually plaguing my mind? As I met people and interacted with different cultures, I realized how easily I changed myself to try to be more accepted and liked.
I struggled with doubts about my identity throughout my early teenage years. I wanted to be me, but I had no idea how to both adapt to people while still having a firm grasp on my own identity. No matter how much effort I put into trying to just be me, my personality and interests seemed to sway depending on who I was with.
Have you ever struggled with these doubts? As TCKs, many of us learned from a young age how to break down cultural barriers and smooth out the differences between personalities. However, for some, this can cause an unstable perception of who we are within.
During the years that I have dealt with this uncertainty, the Lord has both comforted and strengthened me with the following truths.
1. It’s Okay to Adapt
“To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 KJV
In this passage, Paul is writing about adapting to people for the sake of the gospel. Throughout his different journeys, he was acquainted with many people with lifestyles very different from his own. Thus, I am positive he learned how to smooth out differences and bridge the gap between cultures.
Paul strove to find common ground with everyone for the purpose of providing a gateway to share the gospel.
That younger version of me was struggling with her identity because she was not adapting to others with this purpose in mind. No, she was seeking to please only herself by trying to be more accepted and liked.
Although breaking down barriers and making people feel welcome are priceless qualities Christians should indeed strive to have, our ultimate goal in befriending others should be to see Christ formed in them. Only then can our relationships be wholly honoring to the Lord.
2. You Don’t Need to Conform
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 KJV
While we should strive to break down the barriers that divide people, this constant changing and adapting can make us lose focus on who we truly are.
The answer in today’s world is to focus inward, be yourself, and not let anyone change you. However, that will ultimately leave us empty and hopeless. Without our Savior, the only reality within us is dark and depraved, hopelessly drowned in sin and wickedness.
As children of God, we should not strive to be ourselves but to be more like Christ. Yes, to have our own interests and distinct personalities, but to daily let Christ mold and shape every part of ourselves, renewing our minds by continually listening to His words and heeding His instruction.
3. We Have Hope of Stability
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35 KJV
As we draw near to God and become more like Him, we can know that He will form the foundation for our identity. Our role as His children will guide us and illuminate who we are within as our love for God and other people deepens.
Scottish minister Henry Scougal once wrote, “The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.”
What or whom do I love most? If trying to be accepted by people is the greatest thing I am living for, then that will have the most effect on my identity. But if the love of Christ is forefront in my heart, then He will be the One ultimately shaping me.
Instead of us adapting to people, God will mold us into who He wants us to be while providing a strong and stable foundation for our lives.
While we do need to adjust to other people in an effort to share the gospel, we also need to keep our identity firmly rooted in Christ. We can then adapt to people while still having a firm grasp on what our identity truly is.