I want to think about a newborn baby. Think of that baby’s howling cry, or peaceful sleep. Think of his little fingers and toes, maybe even his stinky diaper. Now think about just how helpless that baby is. He can’t feed himself, dress himself, express his thoughts with words; he is completely dependent. So what gives that baby worth? Why does his mother kiss him on the forehead and handle him with such precious care? Because she loves him. She doesn’t care that he is helpless, he is her child, and that’s all that matters.
Now, you may be wondering how newborn babies relate to this blog, but just think about if you suddenly became as helpless as a newborn, right now. If you lost all of your money, dropped out of school, lost the ability to walk or talk, if all of your past achievements and awards were somehow erased, what would you be left with? This is a very important question to ask, because someday, we will all face that reality when we die. When it’s all said and done, what is our true identity? At its core, the answer is actually very simple. As baptized Christians, we are sons and daughters of God, subjects of His love. But there are obstacles to knowing our true identity; collectively I call them identity theft.
Oftentimes, we try to place our identity in the good things we’ve done, such as our GPA or our athletic abilities. Don’t misunderstand me; these are good things. But the trap we sometimes fall into is taking the gifts that God gave us and focusing only on the gift itself rather than letting it direct us towards Him. It steals our identity as children of God and subjects of His love. One of the reasons that this leaves us unfulfilled is because these things are subject to change; they depend on many factors. If the talent or success we define ourselves by is hindered or taken away, then our identity goes with it. But God is perfect and unchanging. He is not going to change or stop loving us if we tear an ACL or lose our job go through a breakup. We are so much more than that to God. He loves us too much to define us by our actions.
And that goes for the bad actions, too. Defining ourselves by our sins, past or present, is another form of identity theft. Even after receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation, it can be hard to trust in God’s mercy and easy to keep beating ourselves up, to the point of thinking we’re unlovable. This is one of Satan’s biggest lies, and it blurs our true identity. We all have wounds, and we all have sins, but God doesn’t want us to live our lives in constant shame. Rather He wants us to “arise, shake off the dust, sit enthroned, Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter Zion!” (Isaiah 52:2) As beloved creations of the Creator, we are called back to Him, no matter how hard we have fallen.
And how great a gift! The fact that our own self-worth is not dependent on merely what we do, but on God’s love, that alone is worth rejoicing about. In this Easter season, let us continue to see the new life of the Resurrection in light of our new life, our new identity, with Christ.