Like most little girls growing up, I wanted to be accepted by my peers. I didn’t dare let any of my friends know about the trouble in my home life. I believed I couldn’t share any of it with anyone, so when I went to school or hung out with friends, I put on a happy face and became the person I thought they would want to hang around with.

Have you ever felt the need to hide who you really are?

Not only did I need to be accepted by friends, but from as far back as I can remember, I wanted and needed the attention I got from boys. My identity was tied up in my relationships with the opposite sex. As a result of not having a stable relationship with my dad and having my parents’ broken marriage as an example, I developed an unhealthy view of what relationships between boys and girls should look like.

In my mind, a loving relationship with the opposite sex was based on my ability to please that other person, no matter how it made me feel. In the big-picture equation, how I felt wasn’t important. There was an emotionally damaged Ann inside me whose distorted thoughts controlled my actions, and she said things like, Just keep everyone in your life happy because if you don’t, they might get angry or reject you.

Have you ever been so fearful of losing someone’s love or attention that you find yourself doing things you really don’t want to do, just to keep them from rejecting you?

To me, rejection was like being stabbed in the heart, and I would do whatever it took to keep from experiencing it. For years, my identity was dependent on how others viewed me, and I learned early on to cover up areas of my life I believed were unbecoming or unacceptable. By the time I was an adult, I couldn’t tell the difference between who I really was and who I wanted others to see.

In essence, I had become invisible.

There is power in being invisible—if you are a superhero. Otherwise, it’s a lonely place to be. In counseling, a common statement heard by therapists was, “I don’t know who I am.” In other words, “The real me is invisible; I have lost my identity.”

At one time or another, most of us try to hide who we really are. If we’re being honest, many of us have believed if friends and loved ones really knew us, they wouldn’t—couldn’t—fully accept us. And so, we often go to painstaking efforts to show the world around us we can beautifully masquerade as the person we think they want us to be.

The problem with hiding behind our false identity is, we never get to exhibit who we really are, and, as a result, we are often left with feelings of deceit, guilt, and loneliness. In many cases, we lose touch with our true self.

We lose our sense of identity.

As children of God, we are to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1–3), to lay aside our old self and put on our new self (Ephesians 4:22–24), and to live in a way consistent with our new identity. We are temples of the Holy Spirit who lives within us (1 Corinthians 6:19). Therefore, we have a responsibility to care for and protect that which is God’s dwelling place. To do this, we must learn to live through Him and allow Him to live freely in and through us.

The core of our identity is a heart that loves God and the person He created us to be.

As we apply the U step in COURAGE and uncover our true self, we learn how to embrace our true identity and see ourselves as God sees us. In His eyes we are all these:

Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

Designed by God (Ephesians 2:10)

Created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)

Bought with the ultimate price, the blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20)

A new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Recipients of God’s grace through Christ (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 1:6)

Conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37)

Blessed with spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)

Sealed in Christ for the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30)

Justified, saved, and at peace with God through Christ (Romans 5:1–9)

We must believe what God’s Word says about us.

Based on these verses, what is your understanding of how God sees you?

To learn more about the U step in COURAGE (Uncover Your True Self) and the read more of my personal journey to courage, download a sample copy of my book Courage For Life or jump right in and purchase Courage For Life in our bookstore.