Four Components of Positive Identity
People who struggle with low self-esteem normally exhibit many relational and emotional problems. The desire for a good self-esteem is great and is actually found in relationship with something bigger than ourselves. One of the wonderful benefits of living in relationship with God by faith is that He gives us a positive identity. We know who we are and we know it is good! This positive identity is another term for what psychologists call positive self-esteem. It is actually a more accurate term because self-esteem is about how I feel about myself, positive identity is about who I really am! Positive identity has four major components:
1) Virtue. This is the sense that we have spiritual value and worth. Our value is inherent in the fact that we are created in the image of God. It is not derived from the good things I do for God. God created Adam and Eve and then called them good. What had they done to deserve that affirmation?
Nothing. Their goodness was a part of the way God made them, their true self. Knowing our true value is a vital part of a positive identity.
2) Community. This is the sense that we belong and are a part of something bigger than ourselves, that we have something to offer. God created us out of community (“let us create man..”) and for community (“it is not good for man to be alone”). An infant is “we” with its mother before he or she become an “I”. Knowing that you belong to a caring community is a vital part of a positive identity.
3) Power. This is the sense that we have choices and the ability to choose. We have already established that God created us with a choice and with the power to make that choice. Limits to our power by God-given boundaries help keep our power from destroying our virtue. Knowing that we have the power to make good choices is a vital part of a positive identity.
4) Gender. This is the sense that we are masculine or feminine and comfortable with our sexuality. God specifically created mankind as “male and female”. The difference between the genders is a part of the design. The unique ways that God created men and women allow them to complement each other as they move together toward intimacy. Knowing our gender and being comfortable with our masculinity or femininity is a vital part of a positive identity.
Since all four of these qualities are part of the true self that God created us to be, it stands to reason that any movement away from these qualities is a good indication that we have taken a detour from life. In fact, anytime that we move away from life, our positive identity suffers because we are trying to find life in something other than God, and since God gives us our positive identity, we lose sight of it as we wander from Him. Therefore, these components of positive identity become a good criterion for judging whether we are living in this intimate relationship with God called life.
This is a good time for us to pause and ask a few probing questions. Do I understand my true value as a person or do I tend to base my value on performance or behavior? Do I fully enter in to community and feel a part of something bigger than myself or do I tend to isolate from others and “perform” at public functions? Do I carefully use my power to make good choices or do I tend to play the victim, as if I have no power to make positive choices? Do I feel the need to use my power to control those around me? Am I comfortable with my masculinity or femininity, or do I tend to act as though I have something to prove in that area? Life and positive identity go hand in hand. This is the way we can regularly take inventory of our life.
Our tendency, though, is to judge the quality of our life by other criteria. Am I happy? Am I getting what I want? Am I achieving all of my goals? These criteria actually grow out of a view of God as a resource to make my life work the way I think it should rather than viewing God as life itself!