Fifteen years ago, there was a man found naked, beaten and unconscious near Burger King’s dumpsters in Georgia. Fire ants crawling on his skin and hot red rash appeared over his body. He was found by the restaurant’s employee and immediately called for a help. Based on his physical condition, it seemed that he had been living rough in the past years. When the team tried to identify him, he had no wallet, therefore there was no identification of him. He was then rescued to a local hospital to further diagnose him but to no avail. He seemed like he lost his memory and experienced schizophrenia. When he was asked for his name, he referred himself as “B.K.”—which was oddly resembled as the restaurant chain where he was found—or ‘Benjaman’ with the odd double ‘a’ in ‘Benjaman’. But later he decided to use ‘Kyle’ as his name, as this story is told by Matt Wolfe from The Republic.
Since that day, there were numerous attempts to restore his real identity by police, the FBI, journalists, missing person experts and countless detectives. But all attempts ended in failure. It seemed like no one did not recognize him even though his pictures appeared on television and internet many times a decade later.
Can you imagine if this person is you? You wake up one day not knowing who you are, where you are or how you get to arrive there due to amnesia? It is indeed a horrifying event that certainly you don’t want to be experiencing. The story of Benjaman Kyle is one of the unknown identity stories due to physical injuries. Now imagine if this happens in a mental level—the unseen part: when you don’t know who you are due to the negative voices or opinions that are spoken to you. Your spouse says something about you, your parents say something about you, your friends say something about you, the media also says something about you, even you may say something about you. Which one to believe? Friends, know that “they say something because they want you to be like what they want you to be, not what God intended you to be,” exclaimed Ps. Rick Warren from Saddleback Church, California. You may have received harsh words that makes you feel you don’t matter, guilty, ashamed or are not good enough and not important. These are not true. These are lies that steal your true identity away from you. I know how challenging it is to not think of these words because they are repeated over and over again in your head. It is hard to believe that more positive words are true. But don’t lose hope, I will walk you through on why those words are not true.
During my identity and mental breakdown, I kept replaying these words to myself: “I keep making mistakes. I can’t make it right. I have tried but I always fail. I am not good enough as a person, therefore I am useless. I am worthless.” and the worst part was I thought to myself that, “I’d better die. I want to kill myself.” This happens almost everywhere. A husband that does not feel good enough to provide for his family or make his wife happy. A mom that does not feel good enough raising their kids. A brother that does not feel good enough for the parents because he is compared to his sister. An employee that does not feel good enough to perform at the office due to the unhealthy office environment. The degree may vary but the feeling is still the same.
As for my case due to the verbal abuse—yes, it is more than just harsh words—I experienced identity crisis that led me to do impulsive things. Luckily, I came into my senses, I wrote a letter to Beyond Blue Australia, then immediately seek help and made an appointment with a local psychologist. It felt really strange at first telling a stranger in person how vulnerable I was in such a very weak state, like I was walking on an eggshell. I sat down during my appointment and I described to her the situation, my feelings and my thought processes. She understood how I was feeling. Then she talked and explained something that made me shift my perspective:
“There is nothing wrong with you. It is not your fault. Let’s say you are given a piece of cake and you don’t like it, you say thanks and return it to that person because it is theirs. If someone said stuffs about you, and you think that is untrue, say no and return it to that person. This analogy also describes what that person is telling you is actually they are saying about themselves. It is not you. It is not your fault.”
“Not only do we only know God through Jesus Christ, but we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ; we only know life and death through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or of our death, of God, or of ourselves.”Blaise pascal
A Slow Yet Profound Restoration
It had been a long time since the last time I felt relieved. I felt accepted. I felt better. I felt free. She gave me a valuable enlightenment. If it seems that you might not find the answer you are looking for from your closest people, you might want to consider talking to an expert. I believe there are cases that you are encouraged to seek a professional help to guide you untangling your mind or your past. They are people who are neutral and will give you a different perspective that someone close in your life may not be able to. A year before talking to this psychologist, I also talked to another professional psychologist that had found the root problem for my behaviors. After digging some childhood experience, she found that I kept feeling worthless as a person. Now that I knew the problem, I wanted to work on these issues so I started my identity restoration journey. I ran to God and I had faith that I will discover the truth. I began searching for an inspiration on what I could do to get out from this cycle.
I stumbled upon Rick Warren’s message about “Learning My True Identity In Christ” and the message was so life-changing to me that I had to repeat it over and over again until it sunk into my heart and my soul. This has been in my heart for so long and I would be more than glad to share this with you. Here are your five fingerprints of your true identity in Christ according to Ps. Rick Warren:
1. You are completely accepted
I remember the painful feeling of rejection when I was still in the kindergarten, about four years old. I wanted to play with the shared colorful wood blocks but my peers at that time would not share them with me. They took them all, leaving me with one flat red block that I am not sure what to build with it. One year later, I was about to graduate the kindergarten during the Christmas event. The school invited my parents and there were Santa Claus and Black Pete with his little cage. My teacher said that I was not a good student and the Black Pete wanted to punish me and scared me until I peed in my pants, crying.
Most people might forget what they had experienced during these years but I remembered. It might be caused by the strong emotional experience that I might not be able to just dismiss these memories from my head. “The pain of not being chosen is so great. You will still remember it,” said Ps. Rick Warren. Experts might say that childhood experience may substantially affect my adulthood. I thought it was not true but connecting the dots to what happened in the past are still relevant today. I just hated the hurting feelings that I want to avoid it to happen again by pleasing people and seek for their approval. At least, to be accepted and wanted in a group.
These wounds or rejections that may happen in an office setting, your home, or peer groups will lead us to find acceptance in the wrong places. This may affect the way you choose your outfits, job or career, house, or any other extraordinary things you do to earn acceptance. But hey, I have good news for you. You no longer need to chase this feeling of acceptance because God has accepted you.
There are two reasons that might help you to understand this truth:
1. God chose you before anything else that is why you are completely accepted.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.1 Peter 2:9
This first verse illustrates that God has chosen you. You are chosen by God Himself, therefore He accepts you the way you are. And this second verse says to you that He has chosen you before He created everything else: animals, the sea, the sky, the sun, or even the solar system He has chosen you. Ps Rick Warren remarked, “He desires to choose to love you, that’s how great you are accepted.
4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)
2. Because Jesus has made me acceptable.
7 Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.Titus 3:7 (NLT)
“Jesus made us and gave us. That’s where acceptance comes from. Stop trying to perform to earn acceptance. It is a gift and it can only be received as a gift,” Ps. Warren explained.
As Colbie Caillat sings in her song and I just could not agree more:
You don’t have to try so hardColbie Caillat – Try
You don’t have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
You don’t have to try
2. You are extremely valuable
As I have shared with you my struggle to find the acceptance I needed, I was also looking for the feeling of being valuable to someone. In my church setting where I usually socialize, I have been accepted by them. They are really supportive and they share similar values with me. But as I grew and encountered many different people, there was one peer said to me, “you should not only hang out with church people. You need to be open minded. They are really judgmental that’s why I don’t really hang out with them.” Since I wanted to feel approved by this new group of friends, I eager to prove that I was not only just a Christian girl that hangs out with other Christian. I wanted to be a valuable friend to them who were not just a ‘hypocrite’ according to them. So I started to do anything that they want me to be in order to feel accepted and valuable which included compromising my values.
We are humans with a need to feel accepted. Moreover, we want to be valued more than just accepted. For example, when you go to grocery stores to pick your veggies or fruits, you want to buy the ones who are still looking fresh and firm. Not the ones that just look ‘acceptable’ with one or two leaves turn yellow or not looking prime even though they are still edible.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)
You are a holy nation and God’s special possession. This implies that you own extreme value. “Holy Bible, holy city, or holy land, they are considered as more than normal and extremely priceless,” explained the Pastor. But how do we know if something has value?
It depends on who owns it. Celebrity who owns shoes is more valuable than just regular people. Who do you belong to? “If you belong to God, then you are extremely valuable. I am owned by the King of kings. I am holy.” There was an auction years ago for Marilyn Monroe’s chest X-Ray result. It was sold at $45,000 along with the detailed medical records for her ectopic pregnancy, nose job and chin implants according to source Ralph Raffio at Purple Clover. Now that, versus my X-Ray result. No one even wants to look at it—Don’t worry, I am okay with that.
There are two reasons why you are extremely valuable to God:
1. Because God is the Father. “We believe that everyone is created by God but not everyone wants to be His children, a part of His family,” remarked Ps. Warren, “God says that He will share everything for His children.”
2. Because Jesus gave His life for me. There may be times when you feel that you do not matter, or like a junk. Like my story, I was feeling that I had no use and unworthy. But I came into realization that Jesus did not just die for no reason. He has a reason why He suffered and die. He wants me and you to soar up in the sky, be courageous and fulfill a purpose in this life. You are not junk or worthless. You have been bought and paid for by Christ. He paid you by His blood.
When I visited an art Gallery in Carmel Valley, I was often surprised by the price that a painting could sell. One of them could reach $15,000 for a painting! But I believe whoever that buys it, find it has extreme value for them. Just like how Jesus bought you, He bought it with His life! He sees you as worthy and important. You know what? You are extremely valuable in the eyes of God and that is what matters most (not what your spouse thinks, your parents think, your ‘friend’ thinks, your coworker think, or your boss thinks).
3. You are eternally loved.
Not only I was looking for acceptance but I was also looking for love through several failed attempts of relationships. I was really needy as a girlfriend that drain my (ex) boyfriends at that period, jumping from one relationship to another relationship. I even compromised my values just to be in the arms of a guy. But in the end, they failed. We can talk about a relationship-specific topic later if you would like to know more 🙂 And hopefully not repeating the same hurtful and foolish mistakes that I did in the past.
Long ago the Lord said to Israel:Jeremiah 31:3 NLT
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”
God has promised us that He has loved us with an everlasting love and an unfailing love. The everlasting definition according to the Oxford Dictionary: “lasting forever or a very long time.” And the unfailing definition is: “without error or fault, reliable, and constant.” Human love might fail us but God will never fail us.
God’s love has two characteristics:
1. His love is unconditional. Our love to one another is conditional. Human love has limits we won’t be able to love unconditionally all the time. In contrast, God’s love is unconditional. He does not love you because of you do good, pray, go to church or volunteer. He loves you in spite of you. “God will love you no matter what you do because it is not based on you, based on Him,” said Ps. Rick Warren.
God is Love. The creator of the universe is Love. There will be no love in the universe if there is no God. His character won’t change so His love for you won’t change. We might be unfaithful to God but He will still be faithful to you.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.1 John 4: 7 – 8 ESV
2. His love is unending or everlasting. There are times our love to our spouse might fickle due to many circumstances. We may feel resentful to the things that our spouse does, especially if the spouse repeats something that the partner does not like. But unlike God, His love is timeless, constant, reliable and dependable. Even though you make bad mistakes, His love for you will stay the same.
4. You are totally forgiven
When I think about this fourth fingerprint, I immediately think of someone that I cannot forgive due to the hurtful things that person has done to either me or someone I love. I thought that those hurtful actions are unforgivable but God will totally forgive them in spite of. How generous God is that He is able to forgive them! Similar to you, if you have done unfavorable or unpleasant things in life, He will still totally forgive you. He can’t partially forgive and He will not be surprised by what You have done.
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.1 Peter 2:10 (NIV)
Additionally, as we often hear this: Jesus has paid our sins therefore our wrongdoings have been wiped out.
7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.Ephesians 1:7 NLT
5. You are fully capable
I was told by someone that I will not be able to achieve my dreams with the capabilities I had on my face. I realized I was not in a healthy mental state that time but I knew that was another lie. In my little corner of my heart I convinced myself that I will speed up, accelerate and achieve my goals, more than that person. I know this is a bad metric to compare our success to other people but I just could not help it to prove how wrong that person was to condemn me. A year later, I was also told by the same person that I will fail in my relationships. Thankfully, that year, my all five identities or fingerprints in Christ have been restored so not a single attack or cursed words that person threw at me will sink into my heart. When I stood up for myself, instead of being understanding or supportive, that person threw more curses at me and finally I got enough that I had to cut the connection.
I would not be able to defend and stand firm if I was not equipped by the word of God. I have chosen to believe Him more because He, the King of kings and the Lords of lords, believe in me more. How can I dismiss such honor? Believed by God has an extreme value to me
You may think that you are not capable of something. Whether it is providing your family, raising your kids, finishing a difficult project at work, getting your master degree while working, moving into a new place, or stepping to the unknown…. Don’t be afraid. You are enough and you are capable of do these things because you can do all things in Christ who gives you strength (Phillipians 4:13). Know that the mighty God, the creator of the sea, the sky, and the solar system, believes in you. He has equipped you with His power to perform these tasks. “He has made us capable. Life plan for your life, for you to fulfill,” said Ps. Warren. Strive for excellence, not perfection. And do not compare your results to someone else’s result.
How to Reverse a Curse?
Now you know those negative voices that your (insert blank here) speak about you are lies, do not claim that false identity. You are NOT your spouse says you are. You are NOT your parents say you are. You are NOT your friends say you are. You are NOT even what you tell yourself you are. Start believing the truth and stop believing the lies. “Keep affirming what God says about you and you memorize the promises of God,” told by Ps. Warren.
The first step I take after repeating the message about these 5 identities or fingerprints in Christ is that, I write them down in my journal. You do not have to do this but I like putting them in my notes. I wrote the fingerprints:
I am completely accepted. I am extremely valuable. I am deeply loved. I am totally forgiven. I am fully capable.
Every where I went—to school, public transports, grocery shopping, etc—I repeated these words with a voice. I confessed them with my mouth. The first time I said these words softly doubtfully with my tongue, there was a spark in my heart. What was that? I thought to myself I felt something has revived me. Someone has stirred my heart. The feeling was real, I am not joking. Then I tried repeating the words again. What is this? I felt hopeful. And, stronger. I was in awe by the power of these words and how they had done to my spirit. I spent the rest of the day repeating those words until they sunk in. Each time I confessed, a small amount of power added until I was fully restored.
I am, until now.
9 Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.Romans 10:9-10 ESV
He saved my life. He literally saved me from the death that I was about to choose weeks before.
Friends, I might not know what you are currently struggling right now. It could be anything from mild to severe. But let me tell you that you do not have to listen to those lies. You are not what they tell about you or what you tell yourself about you. I am not a good spouse. I am not a good friend. I am not a good employee. I am not a good mom. I am not, I am not… No! These are lies. You do good enough that you have provided enough so far. Strive for excellence, not perfection. It is okay to make mistakes. In fact, John Maxwell teaches us on how to successfully fail in order to move forward as explained in his book
Start believing the truth and stop believing the lies.
You are chosen by God, the King of kings. And the Creator of the sea and its creatures finds you extremely valuable in His eyes.
You are deeply loved with a passionate love by Him that surpasses a human’s love.
Your mistakes are totally forgiven, so it is time to try again.
You are fully capable because you are already empowered by the power of God.
And you can do ALL things in Christ who gives you strength.