In Paul’s letters to the early church, he always starts with an identity proclamation and often closes with a declaration of association.

In Romans and Philippians he is a slave of Christ. In 1 and II Corinthians, Ephesians, and Colossians he is chosen by God to be an apostle. In Galatians, he says, “I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ Himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.”

Each time he penned a letter, this proclamation saturated his mind: I belong to God and am surrounded by a body of believers. This provided an emotional and moral compass with which to sift through the events of his day. No matter what he faced–no matter how painful, frightening, or traumatic, he belonged to God, the all-powerful Creator of the universe. What’s more, surrounded by a family of believers, he was never alone.

How might our day, our lives, look different, if we started each day with that core knowledge: I belong to Christ, the Creator of the universe, and I am not alone. And what if we allowed those thoughts–that core identity–to expel negative thinking that threatens to keep us in bondage.

If we belong to the God of hope, there is always hope.

If we belong to the sovereign God, our lives have purpose.

If we belong to the God of love, we are lovable.

God formed you. God sees you. God loves you. God surrounds you. God is with you. God is in you. God has adopted you and placed you in a family of believers.

Stop and think of the implications of each of those statements. What false identities need to be expelled in light of God’s truth?

On Saturday our daughter went to her first homecoming dance, and she brought a friend. Earlier in the day, I spent hours dolling our daughter up–curling her hair, painting her nails and toe nails, applying make-up. When I finished, she looked in the mirror and said, “I feel pretty.” My heart brimmed with joy, knowing she’d walk into that high school gym with her head held high.

On the way to the dance, we picked up one of her friends who struggles to see her worth. At school, she often hangs on the outskirts, never quite feeling part of the group. Although our daughter tries to usher her in, the girl’s core belief that she doesn’t belong keeps her standing on the outside. Even amidst a group of friends, she feels alone.

As we drove to the dance, I encouraged her to change her thinking–to expel the lies and grasp hold of truth, like Paul did when he wrote his letters.

Although she felt insignificant, she was a radiant child of the King, created anew in Christ Jesus.

Although she felt unlovable, Christ Himself died for her.

Although she felt like she didn’t belong–didn’t fit–she belonged to God and a family of believers united in Christ.

As we talked, and the truth of what I told her began to sink in, her chin raised a bit higher and a smile tugged on her lips.

When we picked the girls up three hours later, they clamored in the van all smiles and giggles. They’d had a wonderful time and that night as my daughter’s friend shared stories and pictures taken on her phone, I realized the girl who felt like she never measured up and never quite belonged, felt beautiful and accepted.

Again I ask, how might remembering who you belong to and who you’s standing beside you change the way you look at your day? And as you focus on your identity in Christ, what false thinking must you let go?