When I got married, I went from being called Kari Kubiszyn to being called Kari Kampakis. Transitioning from one odd name to another was easy. Figuring out who this new person was, however, launched an identity crisis that I didn’t expect.
I was thrilled to finally live in the same city as Harry, but moving to Huntsville from Birmingham meant leaving my friends, my family, and a job I adored. In Birmingham everything clicked for me, but in Huntsville I couldn’t catch a groove, much less find work. Everyone I knew was working, and being home alone, with no one to talk to except the postal carrier, allowed me too much time to think.
For 26 years I’d been known for something – good grades, credentials, a promising career – but with all those things in my past, they were no longer relevant. My new identity, Kari Kampakis, had no interesting tagline, nothing to make me stand out from a million other folks in this world.
It was then that I realized a painful truth: My self-esteem was tied to my achievements. And when I wasn’t achieving, my self-esteem suffered.
And while I’d like to say I immediately turned to God, and began a new journey in finding my identity in Christ, it’d be years before I realized that’s what was missing from the picture.
Instead, I did what came naturally and looked for another mountain to climb. My husband had just decided to go back to school to earn an MBA. When the program director suggested that I join him, I applied.
It was a weekend program, but I studied full-time, working in whatever freelance writing jobs I could to pay my tuition. And with every “A” I made in this program, my self-esteem slowly crept back up. By the time we graduated 18 months later, I felt like my old self again. Only this time I could tell a difference.
This time I was aware that my accomplishments did not define me. This time I knew not to get too attached to any bullet points on my resume because in the long run, they really don’t matter. The only way to never lose my self-esteem again, I realized, was to start finding value in who I am, and not what I’ve done.
I’ve grown up a lot since then, and while I’m still a girl-in-progress, I see more clearly now what my problem was. I had built my identity on quicksand, and defined myself by variables that could easily change overnight. And when they did change, I was completely lost.
But when I define myself as a child of God, which I’ve learned to do in the years since, I find the foundation I crave. Because God is permanent, so is my status in Him. It relieves me to know that I have a title I can count on, a rock-solid identity no one can take away. This world can strip me of everything I have, but my identity in God and His son Jesus is mine to keep for the long haul.
I believe we all face an identity crisis of some sort in some season of life. We wonder who we are, what our life means, and what we have to show for it. But before we hit the panic button, let us first take a deep breath and remember that it’s not our credentials that give us worth and value. It’s not our family, our bank account, or our material possessions. You and I both are worthy simply because we exist. Believe it or not, that’s enough.
And while the birth of Jesus here at Christmastime represents big news for our salvation, it also represents big news for our time on earth. Through Jesus we can cope with all the worldly pressures we face to chase money, fame, and success. We can stop buying into those lies that tell us we’re only as good as our latest achievement.
When we find our identity in Jesus, we’re immediately set free. We’re free to win or fail, to rise or fall, and to do what we’re called to do with loving abandon because no success or failure can change who we are. Whatever happens, our identity stays firm.
So this Christmas season, let’s think about what we put our faith in. Let’s reflect on how we tend to define ourselves, and whether we’re building our identity is built on quicksand.
Most of all, let’s remember why a Savior came in the first place: to save sinners, of whom I am the first. By making Jesus our 911, we can survive any crisis we encounter. We can stand confidently in any circumstances, secure in the knowledge that with God as our foundation, we have a rock we can always depend on.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by!
Posted by Kari on December 9, 2013