Identity Series: Part 2—Social Groups

Last week, we began a new series taking a deeper look at some of the more common false identities men tend to latch onto, as well as the truth about who God says you are. Today, we will be looking at how our social groups can distract us from discovering who God says we are. Please feel free to subscribe to the blog and follow along with us through this series.

Social Groups

I had no idea who I was as in middle school, so I kept trying on new identities to see if any of them would bring me lasting fulfillment. And like most teenagers, I believed that fulfillment would come once I discovered an identity that granted me acceptance into the right social group.

I tried out life as the funny kid, desiring to be loved and accepted for my wit and humor. When that didn’t work, I tried to define myself as a Rollerblader, hoping that the athletic adrenaline junkie crowd would think I was cool. I actually wore my kneepads and wrist guards all day at school so everyone could see how hardcore I was (it was the 90s—cut me some slack).

Photo credit: geo462rge

Photo credit: geo462rge

Nothing ever fit quite right, so I started experimenting with shadier identities—rebel, smoker, stoner, raver, and on down the line. Every time I tried on a new identity, I would jump into the new culture with reckless abandon in an attempt to gain answers to who I truly was. This pursuit led me into all kinds of negative behaviors, like shoplifting, drug use, and heavy partying. Ironically, I continued to stay involved with my church youth group this entire time, yet I never thought to look at who God said I was. I kept looking to my circle of friends to define me.

We really aren’t that different as adults, are we? We may have become smarter about navigating social circles since we were in high school, but the underlying search for an identity still continues. Many of us are still searching for our identities in the sports team we root for, the political party we support, or other social circles we are proud to be a part of.

For example, are some Yankee fans so passionately opposed to Red Sox fans because they have placed their identity in being a Yankee, and to root against the Yankees is to root against them personally? Likewise, if your identity is in a political party and someone votes for the opposing party, it feels like they are voting against you personally. Every time they state an opinion your party disagrees with, you take it as an assault on your own character.

When you allow your social circles to define who you are, you end up seeking fulfillment and happiness from a group of people and the circumstances that surround them. When things are going well, you are happy. When people agree with you and accept you, life seems wonderful. But what happens when things change for the worse, as they inevitably will? This is why it’s so important to find your identity in something—or more specifically, Someone—who will never change.

Continue to Part 3: Hobbies

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