When you think about identity theft, what comes to mind? You might think of someone finding a lost credit card and taking it on an indulgent spending spree. Or maybe it’s a hacker using a stolen social security number to open fraudulent accounts that can destroy an innocent person’s credit rating. It might even be an individual physically masquerading as someone else.
While those are all good examples, I am thinking about another form of identity theft, the kind that occurs when you lose your job. I recently found myself in that very situation, facing an unfair departure from the company I had worked at for nearly a decade, and from the industry that had employed me since 1998. Like a thief in the night, they snuck up behind me and stole my identity. For the first time in 13 years I am having an identity crisis and realizing how much of who we are comes from our job titles. “Hi, I’m Tim and I’m the lead graphic designer for XYZ Company” sounded a lot better than “I’m Tim and I’m between jobs right now.” I took a lot of pride in my career and in every project I worked on, and to have had it come to a screeching halt was agonizing.
But as I put it all into perspective, has this really left me without an identity? Absolutely not! In Genesis 1:27 we learn that God created us “in His own image,” and I have an ultimate identity as one of His children. I am a husband and a father, and have enjoyed being a stay-at-home dad for my 2-1/2 year old son. I have a new identity as a job seeker, searching for what might become another new identity for me. I am still an artist as well, and whether I am designing full-time, part-time or freelance, God has given me a talent and I will continue to use it to the best of my ability.
Yes, I am a victim of identity theft. But I haven’t forgotten who I am. I have learned that identity isn’t about where we work, or the cards we carry. It’s what’s inside that defines us, along with the relationships we forge, both worldly and heavenly. I don’t think of this as this end, but rather as a new beginning. It is difficult to bear right now, and it has been easy to get discouraged, but I have hope. Hope that the future will be filled with more of God’s blessings and mercy than I could ever imagine, and an identity that is secure throughout the storms of life.