When looking in a mirror, we see the reflection of what we look like. We can visually see what color eyes, hair, and skin we have. We can see what features of ourselves look like our parents and see the details about ourselves that others may miss. More than physical features, when we look into a mirror, we can emotionally see ourselves.
If we are happy, we see a smile and a twinkle in our eyes. If we are sad, we see a frown and tears. We know that the reflection of our physical features is only a tiny part of our identity. That identity is not only our appearance and expressions but also our qualities, beliefs, and personality traits that characterize us as unique individuals.
When we think about identity and mental health, we can summarize it as an individual’s sense of self. This means your perception of the collection of characteristics that define you. When we see identity by our own perception, we limit ourselves to our past and/or present. To what is tangible and seen. The hope that I want to encourage everyone through this blog post is that we serve a God that does not see us by how we characterize ourselves.
The lie of the enemy; is that our anxiety, depression, grief, stress, anger, PTSD, panic attacks, eating disorders, OCD, etc., is part of our identity. However, as believers in Jesus Christ, we can live in the hope that our past and present struggles are part of our testimony, not our identity, as our identity is found in Christ alone.
Throughout my life, I have had medical professionals diagnose me over and over again to find the best treatment. In 2014 I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. In 2015 I was diagnosed with anxiety and had panic attacks. In 2019 I was diagnosed with PTSD. In 2022 I was diagnosed with infertility which led to struggling with depression due to hormone treatments. In 2023 I experienced a child loss (a D&C) and walked through grief of loss. Through all these diagnoses and seasons, I had incredible counselors and doctors that the Lord surrounded me with to find healing. I was surrounded by my church and community that loved me through each season.
I found that though I received physical and emotional healing, I was allowing what is a part of my testimony to become what my identity was. This led me to be fearful of the future and questioned God’s faithfulness in my past. However, when I allowed God to tell me what my identity is through scripture, my fear turned to hope, and my questions turned to thanksgiving.
A few things I declared over my life:
- I am a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- I am loved (Jeremiah 31:3)
- I am cherished (Psalm 17:7-8)
- I have a purpose (Ephesians 2:10)
- I am guided and equipped (Isaiah 58:11)
- I have a source of strength and am capable (Philippians 4:13)
- I can overcome because I am a child of God (Galatians 4:7)
Our testimonies will be full of seasons of mountains and valleys. Despite the mountains and valleys our identity never wavers because it is found in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore (Hebrews 13:8).
XO Caroline Hoerlein
If you enjoyed hearing from Caroline you can keep up with her @Sweetcaroline022