Have you ever become a part of something and you simply felt like you didn’t fit in or didn’t belong? Maybe you showed up to a new job, or a new city or tried to make new friends and you always felt like an outsider. You might understand what it feels like to not be able to get plugged in.
I remember moving to Louisiana back in 2015 and finding it so hard to make friends and always feeling like I didn’t belong. Everyone already had their niche and I just didn’t belong in any of them. I tried nudging my way into different friend groups and community events but I was having a hard time fitting in. And for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why.
But as I have spent more time here and found my niche, I have realized that there are a variety of reasons why stuff like that happens. In particular, I think the biggest one is because we have not found our full identity yet.
Knowing who we are and what we are called to do, changes everything about how we respond to the world around us. Knowing who we are and what we are called to do teaches us who we are not and what we are not called to do. And sometimes knowing this difference, can change everything in the way we view the world around us.
Let me explain.
In the 1860’s, a brand new product called Listerine was invented. At first, it was meant to be a surgical antiseptic to reduce the rate of post-surgical infections. It sold, but never got full traction. It later began to sell as a floor cleaner, then as a cure for gonorrhea, and eventually in the 1920’s as a solution for bad breath.
For 60 years, Listerine went from identity to identity, always making a difference, but never able to make enough of an impact to change this world. As a surgical tool, a floor cleaner and as a medication, Listerine made a difference. But it wasn’t until it finally found its identity as a solution for halitosis (chronic bad breath), that it made waves.
Which leads to a very important question: have you found your true identity yet or are you still trying to find your self?
In the book of Genesis, we encounter a guy named Moses. He was the son of an Israelite woman, but because Pharaoh was afraid the Israelites would soon outnumber the Egyptians, he ordered that every male child be thrown into the Nile River after they were born.
Moses was one of these babies thrown in the Nile, but as he was floating in the water, the daughter of Pharaoh came to the river to bathe. When she got there, she found this child and chose to raise him as her own.
Years later, after Moses had grown up, he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite man. In his anger towards this oppression, he ran towards the situation and killed the Egyptian. By the next day, word had spread that Moses had killed an Egyptian. Fearing for his life, he chose to run away from the reaches of Pharaoh.
One day as Moses was traveling, he noticed a bush that was burning but was not being consumed by the flame. Intrigued by what it could be, he approached it. To Moses’ surprise, God had manifested himself in this burning bush to tell him to go back to Egypt to free the Israelites out of their oppression.
Moses’ response was to automatically say no. As he argued with God about the many reasons why he shouldn’t be the one who goes to Egypt to free the Israelites, what I hear him saying is: God, I’ve tried this before and look how it ended up.
Think about it. Back when he was growing up in Egypt, there was something within him that knew the Israelites should not be treated the way they were being treated. But when he acted upon that nudge, things didn’t turn out the way he thought they would and he had to flee. Surely he was not the one called to lead the Israelites away from Egyptian oppression.
You see, as he was killing that Egyptian years earlier, his identity was wrapped around being the one who temporarily rescued one Israelite from one mans oppression. But that was never meant to be his identity. I don’t believe he was called to be remembered as the one who stood up for that one injustice. I believe God had called him to be the one who rescued all the Israelites from the oppression of the Egyptians.
These are two very different identities.
See, finding our true identity can make a huge difference. When Listerine figured out its identity as a mouth wash, it made a huge impact in our lives today. When Moses figured out his true identity, he led the Israelites away from the oppression of Egypt. And when you figure out your identity, and live into it, God will do some amazing things through you as well.
So today, know that I am praying for you. I pray that you may find your identity and live into it. And if it doesn’t work out, or it doesn’t feel right, maybe it’s not a reflection of your ability to do something, but rather a reflection of that not being the identity through which you can make the biggest difference.
It is okay to not fit in. It is okay for a job to not be the right fit. It is okay for you to wonder why things don’t feel right. It is okay, because these things are not a reflection of who you are. It just means that you are still searching for your identity and purpose in this world. And if that is you, I pray that you may turn to God as you search for your identity.
Like Listerine in its early years, you may be making a difference, but think about how much of an impact you could make if you lived into your full identity.
Together on the journey,