What is the allure of hidden identity stories? They’ve been around forever and they’re still just as appealing. Stories like Twelfth Night, The Prince and The Pauper, and Parent Trap; where the main characters pretend to be someone else until they work everything out in their favor when they finally reveal their true identity and say, “Ha! It was me all along!”

Is it the fact that often we feel like we need to be someone else to get what we want in life? Or is it the shame answer, “If they knew who I really was inside, they would never love me or support me.” The success of the hidden identity story might appeal to either of those insecurities. Really, these two perspectives are two sides of the same coin, “If they knew who I really was I would never succeed so I need to be someone else to get the life I want.”

The question is, what makes the “real side” of you the real side?

When I was in college “wounds” was a big buzz word. Everyone was discovering their wounds and naming them. The problem was, once the wounds were named rather than letting them go everyone took them on as their identity. “I was abused so that’s who I am, the abused one.” “I was ignored, so that’s who I am, not worth acknowledgement.” “I was not popular so that’s who I am, the loser.” Not only did these wounds become an identity, it informed how these people could live in the future, “I could never try this or that. Remember? I’m the loser!” so on and so forth.

It bummed me out. Why did these things that hurt and made us angry inside have to determine the rest of our lives? I reacted by refusing to name my “wounds.” Of course I have wounds, everyone has things that hurt and make them angry inside. But I thought if I didn’t name them they wouldn’t define me.  However, I didn’t account for the power of suggestion. Once it was suggested that the hurt and the anger was the “real you,” part of me always worried it was true. I hedged my bets and hid that all away, just in case.

This is where the good news of the gospel comes in. Jesus comes into the story with the redemption of His death and resurrection to break sin off of those who accept His grace. The wounds everyone used to talk about are just the outcome of sin in the world. The hurt and the anger are byproducts of sin. I’ve argued in a past post that hurt could potentially be a synonym for sin. Jesus confronts the sin/hurt in our lives and says that’s not meant to be here and washes it away.

Sin wasn’t there in us in the beginning. The “real side” of hurt and anger inside wasn’t there. Which means, it isn’t the real side at all. When Jesus overcame sin and the world through the Christ-act (death and resurrection) He restored our identity to what He always meant it to be. He named all the false bits and “real sides” for what they were: sin and the effects of sin, and said it is finished.

We don’t have to allow the hurt and anger inside to define us or inform our future anymore. With Jesus, if we allow Him to do so, He gives us a new identity and a new lens with which to define the days ahead. The loser can have a rich life full of people and love. The invisible wall flower can move into the center of color and light. The abused one can live in confidence and dignity, worthy of love that is more real than the word itself.

For me, there was the person I always wanted to be and the person I thought was the “real side” of me. The two were at complete odds with each other and I felt lost between the two. But when I allowed Jesus into the conflict His light revealed which was sin and which was me. I was delighted to discover the person I always wanted to be was really just me. The sin, the hurt and anger that resulted from that sin and the sin of others was not the “real side” of me at all, it was just a lie.

Let me clarify one thing. Wounds are a part of us, don’t get me wrong. They really happened and really hurt. What I’m trying to point out is the liberating fact that they don’t have to define us. The wounds don’t have to be who we are and who we will be. There’s healing in Jesus. Maybe the healing happens in an instant, maybe over time, but it is there. We can have wounds in our history and still be who God meant us to be all along.

I know this hasn’t been a particularly biblical laden post. But I’d like to close it out with some of the things the bible has to say about those who are in Christ:

I am redeemed (Romans 3:22-24, Galatians 3:10-14)

I am adopted as a daughter or son of God (Ephesians 1:3-6)

I am righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I am renewed (Romans 12:2)

I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am a light in the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16)

I am gifted (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

I am seen (Psalm 34:15)

I am heard (Psalm 34:4,15)

I am loved (1 John 4:10)


-Etta Woods


*For those who may be interested. Podcasts by Ron Walborn on Church Of The City New York were incredibly helpful in sorting out the hurt and anger inside of me. As well as Rob Reimer’s book, Soul Care.