How to Avoid Losing Your Identity in Relationships
Dating relationships foster such a unique growing experience. Although you are not married many of the challenges that accompany marriage begin in the dating season. You begin to realize your need for grace, compassion and patience. Struggles, character flaws, and heart issues begin to present themselves in a manor you would have never expected. It’s a beautiful refining process that brings changes and growth. Another interesting part of dating relationships is our new perspective that accompanies it. We are now someone’s girlfriend. This changes how we view ourselves, other women, other men, and other people’s relationships. When we begin dating someone we are starting the very beginning stages of developing a unit. You are merging two very different lives into one. You begin to think about this person constantly. You will walk around stores picking out clothes for them, or daydreaming about date night ideas. Your perspective changes. These are all natural and healthy aspects to relationships; trading our selfish desires for the good of another. The danger in dating relationships is when our identity becomes dependent on that relationship. Identities are a tricky thing. Many of us walk around with a false identity of who we are. We think it’s based on our preferences, the way we dress, how we act, or the people that we associate with. For those of us in college we often associate who we are with the career that we are pursuing. But our identity is so much more than what people can see. Our identity is associated with the heart. There are two main reasons why our identity cannot be in our relationships.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21, New International Version).
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)
Relationships, whether married or dating, are ever changing. Our mortal bodies are bound to the world, which means we will grow older, our bodies will change, and the seasons, places and people around us will do the same. A relationship at one year of marriage will look very different from year fifty. Relationships waver, because people waver. Relationships are a beautiful gift from God but they are not outside of time, change, and growth. If our identity is in a relationship, then our identity is faulty and unstable – even in the most beautiful, healthy and Godly relationships. Relationships have seasons of flourishment, but they also have seasons that are stagnant. Our identity will follow the same pattern, which means in times of excitement, intimacy, and growth we will feel loved, accepted, and worthy. But when relationships go through a season of trial then our identity will be shaken because we will feel undesirable, worthless, and plain. Relationships change, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrew 13:8, NIV) If our identity is in this never-changing and all-knowing God then when troubles come and insecurity takes root we can stand firm knowing that we are a daughter of the king, loved, beautiful, worth far more than rubies, more than our make-up or clothes, free, victorious, joyful, transformed, dignified, and favored. These truths won’t be dependent on circumstances because their foundation isn’t shakable.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practices like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27, NIV)
Let’s be a generation of women who put their identity, treasure and foundation on the rock that does not change, waver, or fail us. If we put our identity in a relationship, then we are idolizing a person and asking them to perform as God. Not only is this a sin, but this will cause heartache in your relationship because your expectations of this person will never be satisfied. Putting our identity in a relationship will cause instability in our emotions, feelings of insecurity, and pressure on our boyfriend or husband to meet expectations that are much greater than his capabilities. As we work to create a foundation in Jesus Christ I would encourage each of you to make a list of scriptures that reinforce your identity in Christ and implement them into your life.