The Identity Crisis of My Life

I think it’s time to say something. I’m going to keep it pretty short because I’m not ready to go long on it. Still processing it. Still trying to figure things out. One day maybe I’ll write on it with some length and depth but not until God has done a longer and deeper work in me.

I’ve been through the identity crisis of my adult life in the last year. No exaggeration. It has been one of the most excruciating things I have ever endured. After a lifetime of belonging – which, in itself, betrays a certain privilege – I tumbled into a season marked by the most alien sense of unbelonging. Some of it was imagined. Some of it was startlingly real. Some of it was temporary. Some of it painfully endures. I disappointed people I’d so wanted to please and I was disappointed by people I demanded to be heroic. In some very painful respects, I’d given the benefit of the doubt where I shouldn’t have and withheld it in a few places worthy of it.

Numbers of us who’d previously aligned and agreed – not on everything but on enough – were cracking and crumbling. Some people I thought I knew felt like strangers to me and I, to them. Each of us Christian, some of us would talk and talk and truly attempt to understand one another only to hang up or walk away exasperated, incapable of grasping the other’s view. New teams were forming and I felt like I was slipping on ice, scrambling to find the right one.  The one that would always be right on everything.

A fog had cleared that I couldn’t cloud back up.  I saw things I couldn’t unsee and, for a while, a dark cloud descended where that fog had been. I had the unshakable sense that, though it was dark, I was not to shut my eyes. That I’d see more in that dark place than I’d seen in years of sun-up.

Still navigating some of it. Still trying to keep my eyes open.

And mostly to things that need changing in myself. Ways I’ve been kidding myself. Ways I’ve been part of the problem instead of the solution. Ways I’ve been a coward. A people pleaser. A crowd pleaser. Ways I’ve been acceptably Christian in many circles maybe, but not Christlike. Make no mistake. There can be a wide gulf fixed between those two things.

My entire identity has been steeped in the church. In a people, not bricks and mortar. Started serving the church in 6th grade when I’d graduated out of VBS and began helping the grown ups. Church has been good to me, a harbor amid the stormy unstable home life of my upbringing. I have no horror stories about church. I’ve known love, acceptance, forgiveness, grace and growth in each congregation and never loved a church more than the one I’m presently part of. I can’t imagine life without church. I will serve it till I die.

But my identity is having to be reshaped in Christ alone. He alone cannot change. He alone remains unswayed. He alone is Savior. He alone can take the pressure of being adored. Everyone else we set up high is just another Humpty Dumpty waiting to fall.

I am sanguine to the bone. I love a group. I love my friends. I love my associates. I love familiarity. I love knowing what to expect and getting it. I love being able to fill in a sentence like this with confidence: I am a ____________________.

But the only label I know for certain I want to wear is this one: Jesus-follower. I want to go with Jesus. When pilgrimage gets to be a group fare, fabulous. Nothing is more fun to me. But when pilgrimage with Him requires more aloneness or more traversing with unfamiliar sojourners who make me feel awkward, that has to be just fine, too.

I want to do people good. I want to go to those margins where people need the gospel most. I want to love. Sacrifice. Wrestle. Change. I don’t just want to go where I feel like I belong. I just want to go where Jesus points.

Months into this ridiculous identity crisis, it turns out I didn’t lose as many friends or as much community as I feared. But what I lost was my naivety.

Good riddance I guess. Good but hard riddance.

I want to be brave for the sake of the gospel. Too much is at stake and too many people dying and suffering to take the cheap route. This was meant all along to cost us something.

Maybe fitting isn’t the point. The fact is, we don’t fit here. We fit someplace we’ve never been. Maybe the holes we feel in our lives aren’t all supposed to be filled. Let them sit there awhile and ache. Let them sit there awhile and speak. Maybe they’ve got something to say.




436 Responses to “The Identity Crisis of My Life”

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  1. 401

    I am just seeing this but am so grateful for the writing. Thank you, Beth, for helping me feel a little less alone!! May God continue to bless your work!!

  2. 402
    Amber Allison says:

    Beth, I feel like I am going through something similar. Not sure what I can about it but trust God in the promise that He will complete this work in me…

    Much love 🙂

  3. 403
    Julie Clark says:

    Beth, I want you to be greatly encouraged. It is difficult to have gone through all the journeys that you have and still there are journeys to follow and waiting on you. Being an alien in your own skin is an odd place to be. I know how that feels. It comes with so many uncomfortable things that don’t make sense but know that every moment of being uncomfortable is bringing you closer to understanding the lost. I think the Lord allows struggles so we can relate to people who struggle. It’s what I call a stink-a-roo. 🙂 Just know that I’m praying for you and have been for years. I appreciate you!

  4. 404
    Mary says:

    I’ would like the chance to speak, to tell my side of the story if you would like to listen..

  5. 405
    Elizabeth says:

    Hi, Beth,

    Our women’s Bible study group at Bethany Lutheran in Austin is doing your “To Live is Christ” study. God has moved powerfully in my life through your studies, and He is continuing to speak through you in asynchronous fashion right to my heart, answering very personal heart-to-heart prayers with Him miraculously week after week through a study you penned twenty years ago.

    I just came across this blog post, and was surprised to see how closely the experiences you were sharing matched up with the most recent season of my life. In fact, just today, as I went through your study, a question you posed showed me for the first time the way in which I have idolized the church (other Christians). I had just been talking over with God the fact that I didn’t want to do that any more, and that if someone asked me what I do (career), I wanted to respond with “Jesus follower”. Those were the words that seemed to ring truest. I read this post, and was surprised to see the Spirit speaking so similarly in your words.

    Please be encouraged. Know that God is using you. Stay faithful to the Lord, and His Word. Maybe this tip-of-the-iceberg glimpse into the work God has been accomplishing through your service in the life of a woman you have never met can serve to bring you joy.

    THANK YOU for following Him.


  6. 406
    Hannah says:

    I have a feeling you’ll never read this. But I had to tell you that I am turning 29 next month and I feel and have felt pretty much exactly all the words you just wrote/described. I have went to sleep listening to messages of yours on YouTube and woke and found this. Something the Lord has been teaching me as of late is this, that I will stand before him one day for how I reflected not only his holy name but also for how I handled others. I’ve been deserted by friends, and funny enough, I am doing my first ever bible study at my church and we are doing “Entrusted.” It has been a true help in my life. Thank you for being real and godly and a JESUS pleaser. I have been a people pleaser too and I’ve felt so rejected when they wouldn’t accept me, especially Christians… but I am confident in this- God is ENOUGH for us. Love you, even though ya don’t know me.

  7. 407
    Judy says:

    Dear Beth Moore
    Thank you for your honesty and humbleness.
    I belong to a church now that supports my belief in Christ alone! I have struggled years now with where do I fit in only to find I don’t. That is good. I belong to Jesus. A few years back I took a couple of your bible studies. Thank you for your love of Jesus. I am now enrolled in Faith Bible institute. Growing to understand God and his book is everything. I am learning more and more through prayer to honestly love people. You my sister in Christ reflect Jesus’s love.
    Prayers always
    Jesus loves you
    I Judy love you

  8. 408
    katiegfromtennessee says:

    I came across this post and read it earlier today. I had to think about all of it, what you were saying, for awhile. I was trying to really discern where your heart was at when you wrote each sentence. I know this was a couple of months ago. Do you still feel this way? Where are you now with this wrestling on the inside? I confess that I have prayed for you often, because, I told you I would. I wanted to keep my word, and keep my promise.

    I was presented again tonight with an opportunity to voice a concern, upset the general consensus or not. There are some real issues that need to be exposed, concerns dealt with, and no longer brushed aside by the para-church “powers at be.” Are enough people expressing their concerns now? Bible-believing churches are looking to you to rightly divide the Word of God…

    Teachers have the higher accountability. I do so wish God’s best for you.

    What you said about people-pleasing really resonated with me. Are you willing to listen again? Are there those still left who are willing to try and understand where your heart and mind and thoughts are right now? I think so.

    As long as it comes down to, what do the black and white and red lettered Scriptures actually say, then you and whoever you figure this out with will have the absolute Truth standard you need. What is right. What is real. A firm foundation.

    I will continue to pray for you Beth.

  9. 409
    Carol says:

    Beth, when you wrote this I was in the beginning of the last of multiple heart crushing events with my mother. This was the worse ever and her last because she died. The saddest part is that I had been trying for so long and so hard to have a loving accepting relationship with her. On her death bed she was the cruelest she had ever been. And her cruelty controlled the closing of her and my Dad’s estate through unwritten communications with her favored children, even from the grave she maintained control. BUT “WHO said I was less.” Not my Father God. Prayers and faith and spiritual mentors have helped me. God is forever and always with me. And with you too. People can and will disappoint us, betray us and hurt us, But God will always remain. There is a book that may help, The People Factor by Van Moody. In regard to your ministry, do not let people inside or outside your denomination devalue you. There are plenty of charlatans, fake prophets, misguided Christians that have intellectualized there belief system to the point of arrogance,and snake oil salesmen/women but you are not one of them. I like your word based studies, they weave the OT and NT together, they bring hope, peace, calm, love and acceptance to each one of us. They keep us in the word and make us ask questions. Thank you, Beth.

  10. 410
    Stephanie says:

    Beth, it bothered me greatly to see you criticized. I have prayed for you during this time. I know you said you feel you have had an identity crises of sorts because of some of the denominational issues. There are no denominations in heaven – ultimately we are “followers of Jesus”. That identity is good enough for me and I believe it’s good enough for God. I’ve read your books and listened to you. You and I have a little bit in common in that we came from a dysfunctional home yet found Jesus at an early age and developed a continual and growing personal relationship with God. You are special to His heart I am sure. Don’t be discouraged during this time. These are tests to make you stronger. I loved seeing you join with Joyce Meyer at a conference. God’s hand is mightily on her and her ministry and anyone who listens to her regularly would know that regardless of their denomination. Sweet woman, stay strong. Critics will come and go, attacking those who are making a difference in this world.

  11. 411
    Lisa Erler says:

    How many times have you changed my life, Beth?

    When I was diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder, every friend I had pretty much left me. They either left me or found me a curiosity. In my most lonely, lost hours I spent time with you and God. I don’t remember how many of your Bible Studies I have done. I have read So Long Insecurities twice. I wouldn’t be who I am without your words. You stirred in me a hunger for the Bible. I don’t remember much of the two years I spent in a deep depression, but I do remember those studies. The Bible studies gave me hope and a sense that God was with me even though I couldn’t see Him.

    My heart left the church when I was diagnosed and had no one to understand or even care. I tried, but after that devastating experience and not have anyone there — that is hell.

    But you were a light to me. The way you worded things and the thoughts you put in my heart have remained and have helped me become the person and writer that I am.

    I left the church physically a few years later. It wasn’t a place where I felt comfortable to be known. How can anyone explain how difficult it is to have a mental illness? – most of the time I don’t even try.

    In dark places, I would reread your Bible studies, and you changed my life.

    And I know you did the same for millions of women.

    You didn’t leave the “church,” Beth, for the “church” is with you. You just left a denomination. Your “church” family is us – the women’s lives you changed and inspired, and the women’s lives you will continue to inspire.

    Be still.

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