What You Need To Know About Identity, Love, & a Performance Mentality
Can I just tell you something from the start? I think you need this reminder. I know I do. Here it is: God’s feelings for you don’t change based on how you feel about yourself. You belong to Him.
I think that needs to sink a little deeper. Say it like this: God’s feelings about me don’t change based on the way I feel about myself. I am His daughter, His chosen, and His beloved.
You are Radically Loved
Sometimes we feel bad about ourselves, and don’t realize those feelings are usually induced by shame because of something we did or didn’t do. The problem is, when that happens, we see a distorted view of ourselves and God through a lens of shame. Or worse, we think God views us through that lens. Then we decide for Him—we are worth rejecting—and that’s a lie.
Do you know what that’s rooted in? Identity.
I love what Brennan Manning says in his book, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging.
Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.
The first time the Lord ever taught me about identity was when I was struggling with my value being wrapped up in accomplishment. When I was a young bride and mom, I withdrew from college and became a stay-at-home mom. I struggled with feelings of worthlessness, because I wasn’t making an “A” grade anymore. Actually, I failed pretty miserably at homemaking.
The Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Do not let anyone or anything define you except Me.” In other words, you and I are who God says we are. Our identity is found in Christ.
Every one of us has a desire to be loved and accepted without conditions. God loves us that way, but many times freely receiving unconditional love from God is hindered by guilt, shame, and condemnation. It is usually our past or that voice in our head telling us we aren’t good enough.
We believe we are a disappointment to God, and unless we do things just right we aren’t worth loving. That’s the opposite of grace. You see, we don’t get to decide whether we are worth loving unconditionally. God does, and He already said we are worth loving when He demonstrated His extravagant love for us through Jesus.
God’s love for you is unconditional. It is unfailing and unending, and there is no fear in love.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
Do you ever wonder why fear has to do with punishment? I believe this verse speaks directly to our tendancy to think we are worth loving depending on our performance or behavior. We learn it from a very young age. When we do something right, hopefully we are rewarded and feel accepted. But when we do something wrong we often get punished and feel rejected.
Even if we had parents and teachers who disciplined us with grace and love, it is still limited. No one can love us with the same limitless, perfect love our Heavenly Father does. Additionally, we can’t ignore the fact that we have an accuser. He is the accuser of us all—the devil—and will never stop snarling in our ear reminding us of all our failures every chance he can get. But always remember, Jesus is our Advocate against the accuser.
Do You struggle with a Performance Mentality?
I struggled with having my worth and value wrapped up in my accomplishment and success all my life. This is a performance mentality. In order to know if you struggle with a performance mentality you have to know what it actually is.
Performance is our attempt to please God through self-effort and striving, which means we believe we don’t have God’s approval and love unless we are “doing” whatever we think He wants of us.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if what we are struggling with is a performance mentality. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you might be.
Do you feel no matter what you do you aren’t good enough? Are you exhausted trying to be? Do you find your worth or value in success and accomplishment? Do you believe God’s feelings change about you when you’re not “doing” something for Him? Do you say “yes” because you feel obligated to, more than it’s in your heart to?
You Can Be Free From a Performance Mentality
Maybe you’ve answered yes to one or all of those questions. Maybe you’re seeing yourself in these lines, and saying, I want to be free from this. You can be.
I cannot say there’s an easy answer, a formula, or a three step program. But I can say, if you seek to know and encounter God’s love, learn who He says your are through His Word and spending time with Him, you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.
The more you know God the more you know yourself, because He’s the One who made you in His image. God is the best teacher. Having your identity shaped by Christ is a process, and God is committed to the process. He is committed to you. He wants you to know who you are more than anyone.
But God has given us something to do—make Him known. It’s why we are here on earth. He wants others to know Him, too. We all have an assignment from God. Let’s make our aim be to stand before the Father at the end of our life and say like Jesus said, “I finished the work You gave me to do.” But as we work, let’s always remember this:
- Work from a place of being loved rather than working for love.
- Work from a place of acceptance rather than working for acceptance.
- Work from a place of approval rather than working for approval.
- Work from a place of identity, knowing the name God calls you, rather than working to make a name for yourself.
- Ultimately, work from a place of identity, knowing who God says you are—His masterpiece, created, beloved, and chosen by Him.
One last thing. Can I share with you what God spoke to my heart about this? These words are for you, too.
A WORD FROM GOD
“I picked you up, and I’ve never let you go. You are mine forever. You think if I look closely enough that I will change My mind, let you go, and forget about you. You think if you don’t perform for Me, I will choose someone else. I have chosen you forever. I am never letting you go. Even if you never, ever do for Me, I will never let you go.”
Journeying with you,