A Case of Mistaken Identity.
I remember well the 2006 news story of a horrific auto accident which claimed the lives of five Taylor University students. In the midst of the chaos, one of the deceased students was identified as Whitney Cerak. Whitney’s parents had her funeral and another family sat on the bedside vigil of a young woman they believed was their daughter – for five weeks. When this young girl started to regain consciousness, it was discovered that this was not who they thought it was. This was Whitney Cerak not their daughter, Laura. Laura was gone and Whitney was alive – an almost unbelievable case of mistaken identity.
I was privileged to hear Whitney speak in person as she recalled the facts of the story and the impact it had on her mentally and physically. Although I could not identify with the facts of her story, I could identify with the idea of being called by a name I did not recognize.
Who am I? Where am I? What am I? Am I supposed to be playing some sort of role? If so, where is the script? And who wrote the script? When we are not sure of these things, we can find ourselves improvising in ways that are less than satisfying and even self-destructive. It turns into a case of mistaken identity.
I remember these thoughts very well in one of the first ministry positions that my husband, Mark, had. I was trying to be all things to all people. It turned into disaster. Thanks to some loving friends, a forgiving spouse, and a perfect Heavenly Father, I was able to do a restart.
Things in my personal life and ministry life changed when I returned to this most fundamental thought. I am loved and redeemed by Christ and my identity at the most basic level is “in Christ.”
What thoughts enter your mind when someone asks, “Who are you?” It’s okay to say where you live or your nationality or something that identifies you in the context they are asking. If I am visiting the university where my daughter attends, I identify myself as “Jordan’s mom.”
But more than that – what is your identity? By what or by whom do you define yourself?
What does it really mean to call yourself a Christian? To call yourself a Christian is to embrace the cross and everything it says about who God is and who you are. You are in Christ. The cross says that God loves us in ways that we cannot comprehend (Eph. 3:19). The cross says that God has provided the righteous standing we need to dwell in His holy presence and not die (2 Cor. 5:21). Because of what Christ did for us, we are no longer slaves but children of God and if His children, then heirs with Christ (Gal. 4:7). We have these things by faith, which is a gift so none of us can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). There are so many scriptures in God’s Word which explain who we are in Christ.
Whenever we speak of our identity as being a woman or a man, a husband or a wife, a parent, a pastor’s spouse, those should all stem from the reference point of being “in Christ”. Every hat we wear or role we play must be viewed through this perspective. Our identify must always be found in Him.
I have to remember:
My successes do not define me.
My failures do not define me.
My gifts and talents do not define me.
Who I am in Christ defines me.
WHOSE I am defines me.
A child of God – that is who I truly am!
And that is no mistake!
If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can read more from Sherry here.
Sherry Gorveatte grew up in a pastor’s home and said she would never marry a pastor and so she did! Alongside her husband, Mark (who is also a PK), she has served in ministry roles including youth pastor’s wife, pastor’s wife, district superintendent’s wife, and university president’s wife. Sherry and Mark currently serve in the Crossroads District of The Wesleyan Church where Mark is the District Superintendent. In addition to her various ministry roles, Sherry is a CPA and has her own business specializing in ministerial taxation and nonprofit accounting. She is also the mom to four awesome children.