I can remember when I first realized that I was good at school. I knew the answers to questions the teacher asked and loved it when my name was called and I’d receive praise for responding correctly. In kindergarten, I had dreams of becoming a doctor like Doogie Howser, a TV show about a child prodigy who becomes a doctor as a teenager. (This dream quickly evaporated when I realized I was not going to be going to college by age 12.) I found affirmation in pleasing adults. It felt good to be known for being smart, being a good student, and for being “a good kid”.
But there was a problem. The grade on the paper didn’t continue to satisfy. Making sure I always earned “As” was stressful – I remember crying when I saw a “B” on my report card (as if a B was going to ruin my life somehow). Plus, my grade was often out of my control at some level. For example, once in 5th grade, I was given an F on an assignment because my teacher thought I had cheated (I hadn’t) and no amount of arguing could change her mind. Since I based my identity on being right, I felt threatened and insecure whenever I was wrong. I’d argue with anyone who challenged me, and frankly, no one likes a know-it-all. Adults didn’t always give me the affirmation I wanted or thought I needed. They couldn’t fill the emptiness I felt inside. And being known as the “goody-two-shoes” wasn’t always fun either. Sometimes I longed to know what it would be like to take on another reputation – just once. I could never do enough, have enough, or be esteemed enough to feel ok or secure or fill the emptiness inside. I don’t think I’m alone.
One of the biggest reasons we experience so much pain, insecurity, and loneliness in life is because we forget our true identity as God’s beloved. Our accomplishments, accumulation, and accolades describe us, but they should never define us. And there is another problem that chasing these things as a way to find identity causes – regret. And regret shouldn’t define you either. What defines you comes from the inside and radiates out. That which is outside of you is too untrustworthy, too likely to change, too uncontrollable. But frankly our insides can feel that way too. That is, until you join your heart to the One who made it. When you give your heart back over to Jesus, your insides become much more secure and stable. Through Jesus, you are adopted as God’s child. You become part of His family. He is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords, and if you are His, then you are royalty. Living in that truth allows you to live with confidence, freedom and with a kind of security that no accomplishment, no amount of accumulation, and no accolade can ever provide.
Matthew West has a fabulous song that points to this truth. Perhaps you’ve heard it. If not, I hope you enjoy!
How have you tried to define yourself? Sports? Popularity? Name brand clothes? Being the class clown? Is it wrong to seek accomplishment, to accumulate things or titles, or to receive accolades? What would it look like if we lived as if we really are royalty, children of the One True King?