Identifying Your Identity


Four months ago, I met with wise counsel in a coffee shop. She sat with me for three or four hours. I hadn’t had anyone spend that much focused one-on-one time with me, be so patient and gentle, listen so intently, or ask such thoughtful, deep questions of me for a long time.

I needed somebody to listen, hear the whole story, help me filter, discern without judgement or bias. I needed someone to process with me, and I needed it to happen organically, without feeling like we were under some sort of time crunch. So I scheduled more time than I thought necessary, and we filled it all. Obviously, I needed that wise counsel.

The words we shared with one another that day will always remain confidential. But there’s one thing from our conversation I would like to share with you today.

She asked me to spend some time thinking about my identity. Beyond wife, mom, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt, blogger, speech therapist, former nonprofit board member, and all the other roles I’ve played in my life…

Who am I?

Strip away the roles, titles, and responsibilities. Strip away the masks and dreams of what could be. What remains of my identity? What words best describe the core of who I am?

I love questions of identity, so this really got me thinking. Add to that, I’ve spent nearly two years in an awkward in-between, more than ready to embrace and live out my true identity. So what would I say? How would I answer this question? Who am I? Who am I, really?

Here are the words that come to mind…




Deeply intuitive.




Observer of people and life.

Rapport builder.

Fairly serious.



Justice seeking.

Hard working.


Detail oriented.

A little obsessive.



Deep thinker.


Can be quiet.

Can be really talkative if the stars align (setting + personality match + subject matter).


Child of God.

So what’s the point? Why identify your identity?

1) We need to keep our identity grounded in what’s truly significant. Our worth comes NOT from what we do, how much we accomplish, how many kids we have, or how big our houses or bank accounts are. Our identity is what remains when all the things of this world are stripped away. What remains at the end of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? You. What remains at the end of a beautiful, marvelous, spectacular, very good day? You. Our worth is best judged based on our identity rather than our circumstances. As they say, you’re so much more than what’s happened to you.

2) Our lives should, ideally, reflect the whole of our identities. God created you for a reason, to fulfill a specific purpose during your time here on earth. All the intricate little parts of you come together to create all of you. So does your day to day life reflect your true identity? Do you feel like you’ve been wearing a mask, trying to please, living a life others created for you, hoped for you? Was your identity trampled on somewhere along the way, have you stuffed it away in hidden places nobody knows but you? Are the most authentic parts of your identity yet to be tapped? Are you desperate to embrace your identity rather than reject or half-heartedly live it out?

Let me share one great example of how identity recently showed up in my life…

This week I’ve been reflecting, yet again, on my trip to Haiti with Compassion International. In all my deep thought, I realized something important. One of the reasons I loved Haiti so much was that the trip was 100% in line with my identity. Every aspect of my identity was tapped during that trip. I didn’t have to work hard. I didn’t wear any masks. I was at peace. And I was filled to the brim with joy of another kind. Because I was living out my true identity. Who I am flowed out naturally during that week in Haiti. I didn’t have to reach out, grab onto, or construct some false, half-hearted identity. To have that opportunity, to live 100% in line with my identity was a beautiful experience. So from that point forward, I committed to living differently, fully in my identity. The best way to express gratitude to God for creating us in the first place, is to whole-heartedly embrace our unique identities and live accordingly.


So I wonder…

What’s your true identity?

Who are you?

Who are you, really?

And remember…

Our identity is what remains when all the things of this world are stripped away.

Take time for you. Give yourself a gift.

Identify your identity.

Grab a pen, sit down on a comfy chair, and take a few minutes to identify all the things that make you, you.

Then, be intentional about living your life in a way that taps into every bit of that identity.

Because this world needs ALL of you.




  1. Katie Anderson Nyberg says:

    In the process, I realized that my identity was my foundation in her. Everything that she did, planned, decided, accomplished was all on her own. Through example she gave me a priceless foundation and plenty of room to grow as a person in my identity.
    And that foundation was built without her ever saying a word. It was all example of strength, handling things on your own- independent strength and confidence.
    My having no hesitation with any task but just taking it on automatically. And finding the opportunity in obstacles to accomplishment!

    It turns out that I knew exactly who I was. And inside, I think I always knew that. All of her amazing qualities I learned from her!
    I was never really lost in my identity without her here with me.
    It was the comfort I was so terribly missing!

    My conclusion is this. We choose our identity. We take it in by example subconsciously when we learn by good example.
    The good qualities influenced in us, at some time have to be nurtured, challenged to grow by us.
    We make choices and utilize opportunities to decide our identity!
    We’re not just a product of our circumstances.
    Despite circumstances your identity is determined by us.
    Our circumstances aren’t what define our identity.
    We can choose to grow in our identity. Or choose to wonder about our identity.
    Choosing to grow and improve is a lifelong venture.
    And you can change you identity by growing in it!
    So we don’t have to feel “lost” or wonder “who we are”
    without your Everything!
    When that most special and influential persons absence is so terribly missed,
    that foundation isn’t.
    It was always there!

  2. Katie Anderson Nyberg says:

    Or maybe better described as my solid identity without parents.

    But not being able to pick up the phone, or have conversations with Gramma, I was somewhat lost. Only because she was such an enormous part of my life! My wanting her to be proud, the duty I felt in always meeting her expectations of me, knowing her insight was always about what was best for me and then best for the girls & I. My immense respect in her suggestions and thoughts.
    Never from feeling incapable, or a desire to please her or make her happy.
    I already had strength in those independent skills.

    Something that has had to be part of my grieving process in her death-
    figuring out who I am without her.
    Because she was such a huge part of my life.
    Because Gramma and I had a special closeness and bond together like no other. Our relationship was much stronger and more significant than any relationship she had with other relatives. I loved being her “favorite”
    and hold on to that knowledge of comfort as I miss her so!
    Literally the majority of my life, her significance was so meaningful and important! She was my unconditional constant!

    As time goes by with her absence, instead of “figuring out” who i am without her,
    I’ve chosen to decide who I am without her.
    What my identity was going to be, and confidence in my identity.

    Not a journey most people need to make regarding identity when at 93 your EVERYTHING is no longer with you.
    And what a journey its been!

  3. Katie Anderson Nyberg says:

    my own identity. Because it was so separate from my parents. Im sure as a result of having to grow up so fast. Not having the luxury to just be completely carefree, or to be the age I was.
    So regarding my parents, my identity was my own. I had to make decisions and choices based on my own careful consideration.
    Although not ideal,
    I learned so much! I knew my strengths and weaknesses.
    I knew what the goal was to be accomplished and just did it.
    I was solid in my identity without my parents influence.
    Extremely confident in my abilities to make decisions and choices.
    My parents didn’t offer opinion or insight and I didn’t ask.

    But because of my enormous respect, love, belief and trust in Gramma, her thoughts and opinions were a huge part of my identity!
    Something that was always there and I could count on!
    And know it was always in my best interest. And then,
    the best interests of Samantha, Gina, & I.

    When Gramma died there was an immediate questioning in my identity without out her.
    Who am I, and what is my identity without Gramma?
    I literally felt like I had no idea who I was other than my identity with my parents.

  4. Katie Anderson Nyberg says:

    My daughters Samantha and Gina, and of course Gramma as well!
    Every decision and choice I made was centered around the most precious people in my life!
    So often Gramma had expectations, opinions, and suggestions which always factored in which were always in my best interest. And then, in the best interest in Me, Samantha and Gina.
    I am a strong, independent, confident woman and mother. But never so careless to not consult with Gramma or not consider her ideas and suggestions.
    Looking back, I realized just how important Grammas insight was in influencing my life and the lives of my girls. She was always right even when I was reluctant.
    Like choosing SCSU to attend college. Was the best choice I could have possibly made for the girls and I! We thrived, had experiences and met people, had opportunities that you can’t really utilize anywhere else.
    St. Cloud is just one big small town.

    Growing up was something I had to do entirely too fast. I had adult responsibilities and obligations at a very young age.
    The necessity of my having to take on those adult roles was due to my parents inability to “parent” at the time. So I was solid in knowing how my identity related-
    more like lack thereof,
    my identity wrapped up in my parents influence

  5. Katie Anderson Nyberg says:

    Amy I so enjoyed reading this!
    And yes, your calling is to write!
    Your work is eloquent, thoughtful, and your passion for writing is truly felt!
    When Gramma passed away in April 2013, without her I have given so much thought to my identity. Because so much of my identity was through her!
    She was my EVERYTHING! From the moment I was born. The majority of my life was centered and based in her.
    When I became a Mother, my life was centered and based around my
    daughters Samantha and Gina. And Gramma

  6. Vicki Thunstrom says:

    I’ll definitely be pondering this question later!

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