Debra Chew: Identity - Seeing Yourself In A Spiritual Mirror

Monday, September 19, 2016 - by Debra Chew

It seems like many people these days are talking about “identity,” which can mean different things to different people.  Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”  But, just who is yourself? Is it that physical reflection in your mirror or even what you think about yourself?  Or could it be that your identity is spiritual? 

Interestingly, I read a 2015 New York Times Magazine article, entitled The Year We Obsessed Over Identity.  The article cited the decade of technology when anyone can create any persona, or identity, and be protected in cyberspace.  Reality TV shows abound where experts can’t wait to make over homes, bodies, and lives.  And Wesley Morris wrote this long piece pointing out the emotional strains some people experience from searching for their true identity in all these many ways.   

From time to time, we have probably all asked the question, “Who am I?”  For a long time, this was certainly the case with my two daughters, who are adopted.  They both knew who their biological mothers were, but had never known their biological fathers.  Additionally, one daughter was Hispanic (and 30 years ago there weren’t as many diverse families as there are today) so she always felt “different” as a black-eyed, dark-skinned daughter of blonde “parents.”  

Through the years, that “unknown” aspect of who my daughters were sometimes led to anxiety, fear, coping issues, and even physical problems like Wesley Morris described in his article, because they didn’t have all the answers about who they identified with or as. 

Thankfully, their religious upbringing taught them to always look to God for answers, so each time they faced a kind of “identity crisis,” instead of searching for their “human” identity, they searched the Scriptures. 

In Sunday School, my girls were taught from the Bible that man is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis), that God is Love and that we are all called the children of God (I John).  They also learned of the humble birth of Jesus, who could have identified himself as simply the son of a carpenter.  Instead, Jesus lived his life demonstrating his identity as God’s Son by reflecting God’s love and the spiritual qualities that came from his heavenly Father’s divine nature. 

And, in the Christian Science textbook (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy) my daughters were inspired to learn of identity as spiritual in passages such as: “Identity is the reflection of Spirit,” and “Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God.” 

Once, upon learning that her birth father had passed away a few years before, my younger daughter was saddened and quite emotional about never having met him.  She had hoped to have questions answered about why he was never involved in her life.  For example, did he love her?  

As I tried to console her, I did tell her of some physical characteristics she shared with him.  Then, I asked her to describe the spiritual characteristics she reflected from her heavenly Father.  I was happy to hear her say “goodness, love, and comfort.”  She then went on to say, “God is really my father and mother.  And, everyone is God’s child.”  

In the midst of feeling abandoned and perhaps unloved, what a wonderful revelation to think of being loved by the one “Parent” -- Father-Mother God -- and reflecting that love. 

My older daughter has also had “ah-ha” moments about her identity.  She, too, was able to leave sad feelings behind by acknowledging that she had a spiritual identity as a child of God.   Especially helpful to her was the idea that her spiritual identity also made her a unique individual.  This removed her worries about looking physically different from the rest of our family.  

When looking in the mirror, instead of trying to find a likeness to a parent or other family member, my daughters finally realized that they reflected all the good and love that God is.  That was enough to eliminate their need to attach themselves to a material history. And, while it seemed they had been separated from their identity at birth, they eventually knew their true spiritual identity belonged to them and they could never be separated from qualities such as love, forgiveness, and gratitude, to name a few. 

My daughters gradually came to see that their identities were never defined by their human birth, ethnicity, or even gender.  Like them, if you are struggling with identity and discovering who you really are, look no further than your spiritual mirror and see who God sees – a perfect likeness of Him (or Her), with your own unique combination of spiritual qualities.   

* * *

Debra Chew writes about the connection between thought, spirituality and wellness from a Christian Science perspective.  She has been published in USA Today, chattanoogan.com, Knoxville News Sentinel, Memphis Commercial Appeal, UK Health Triangle Magazine, and the Jackson Sun & JS Health Magazine.




Children’s Hospital At Erlanger Receives Brave Gowns Donation

Emily’s Power for a Cure donated 600 Brave Gowns to Children’s Hospital at Erlanger on Wednesday.   Brave Gowns were created in 2015 by Summer Germann in honor of her brother Mac. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the gowns have been distributed individually to thousands of children in hospitals across the country. Thanks to the collaboration with Emily’s ... (click for more)

Erlanger To Honor Tom Edd Wilson, Dr. Michael Greer, Dr. Michael Love And Rae Young Bond At 2018 Dinner Of Distinction

Dr. Michael Greer, Dr. Michael Love, Rae Young Bond and the late Tom Edd Wilson will be honored at the Erlanger Health System Foundation’s annual “Dinner of Distinction” on  Jan. 19, 2018 . This is the 15th year for Erlanger’s annual recognition event, which is being held at the Chattanoogan Hotel, from  6-9 p.m. The 2018 honorees were selected for their enduring ... (click for more)

1 Killed, Another Injured In Shooting On The Southside Early Sunday Morning; Delivery Driver Carjacked On Southside Earlier

One person was killed and a second person injured in a shooting on the Southside early Sunday morning. The victims are Sharone Porter, 22, who was killed, and Torrie Porter, 24, who had non-life threatening injuries.  At 2:47 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to 1400 Cowart St.  on a person shot. Upon arrival, Chattanooga Police found two victims suffering ... (click for more)

Bradley County Deputy Shoots And Kills Stabbing Suspect At Charleston

A Bradley County deputy shot and killed a man who was a suspect in a stabbing early Sunday morning. The Sheriff's Office said, "At approximately 11:54 p.m. on Saturday, a call was received at the Cleveland/Bradley County 911 Center to report a stabbing at a residence on Leyland Drive in Charleston. "The caller indicated a male had been stabbed and another male had fled from ... (click for more)

The Growing Monopoly

Over the last decade, five tech giants have risen to the top, and created, discovered and invented services and products that have made these companies worth billions today. Those five, of course, are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Each of these companies are responsible for several products and services that we use in our everyday lives. They have devoured the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Last Day Of School

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story first appeared in the Chattanooga News-Free Press in the late 1970s and every year about this time I am asked repeatedly about it. It is far and away the most famous story I have ever written – copies have been sent to me from numerous foreign countries, it’s included in teaching manuals and people I haven’t seen in years get in touch when they read it ... (click for more)