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Where Do You Place Your Hope and Identity?

Where Do You Place Your Hope and Identity?

I have to be honest with y’all – I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I can’t really pinpoint why they do not appeal to me, but I think that going through loss and suffering has made me wary of things that promise happiness, fulfillment, etc. I know firsthand that even if you make all the right choices and fulfill all your goals, something can change in the blink of an eye. Life is not a math problem where if you insert the correct quantities, you are automatically guaranteed a good result. So for me, I don’t see January 1st as a magic day that ushers in a new me. I see it as a normal day, another day where I have to lean on and cling to Christ.

Having said all that, I don’t think it wrong or silly to have goals and want to make changes in your life. It can be very beneficial! But ultimately, we are all human. We will all fail because none of us are perfect. And when that happens, if your identity is not grounded in Christ, you will feel like YOU are a failure. But God says that you are not a failure if you are found in Him. Romans 8:1 states, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Let that sink in: no condemnation. No matter what, no matter how bad your failure was, no matter how bad your life choices have been, God says that through Jesus, you are no longer condemned. If we confess our sins and if we bring our failures and mistakes to Him, He takes the penalty for them all and gives us His righteousness instead. He takes our dirty, filthy rags and gives us His spotless royal robes. What great, unfathomable love is this!

Now, you may be thinking, Lauren must really be grounded and abiding in Christ in order to write about this. But that’s not true. I fail at this every day. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself because most of my life, I’ve tried to place my identity in things that could never fulfill me. I tried finding my identity in good grades, in how many people I shared the Gospel with, in foreign missions, in my husband, in my children, etc. etc. etc. All of those things are wonderful parts of life, but they are not Jesus. They are not enough. They will either fail me or I will fail them.

As I have been reflecting on this, I think I also placed my identity in being a bereaved mother and in trying to heal from my losses. Losing Hope became the turning point in my life that I needed people to recognize and acknowledge. It was the only part of me that mattered. Part of that is just grief, but I also think I defined myself by my losses. And then as I began to heal, I defined myself by trying to have another child both by adoption and by becoming pregnant. I poured all of myself into those two things. And now, as we are one month away from our adoption contract ending with no prospects in sight, I have wrestled with feeling like a huge failure. But God is graciously showing me that while my adoption plans may fail or be put on hold, that does not mean that I am a failure. My identity is not found in whether I adopt or not. And, man! That is a hard pill to swallow. But it’s also incredibly freeing to know that God loves me simply because He does. It’s not because of anything I’ve done and it can’t be messed up by anything I fail to do. His love is unconditional – praise God!

Maybe you have also struggled with putting your hope and identity in perishable things. Maybe your attempts at having more children have failed, and you feel like your life will never contain joy without a child. Maybe you feel that you will never be able to find healing from your loss. If so, run to Jesus. His arms are always open and ready to welcome us back. He alone is enough to bring joy and peace into our lives; He alone is where our identities truly lie. Thank you, Jesus.

Lauren Young is a wife to Will and mom to two beautiful boys on earth (Matti and Sammy) and three precious babies in heaven (Hope, Jonah, and January).  She is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys writing, reading good books, cooking new recipes, and playing piano.  She lives in central Texas now but was born and raised in Georgia.  She and her husband are now in the adoption process and can't wait to see what God has in store for their family. 

Catherine Hartel

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