Identity Reframed

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

In a recent post I wrote about the power of a real opportunity, or practical hope, to create change. However, it is only one-half of the all-in hope equation. True, all-in hope becomes a reality when a real opportunity is combined with a reframed identity, or spiritual hope.

As I thought about how to describe this critical piece of the hope puzzle a number of words surrounding the concept of identity came to mind. The word “true” came to mind, which would be accurate. Certainly an identity based in truth is important and powerful. However, it was just missing something. “Clear” was another word that seemed to make sense. Being clear on who you are makes a difference in the way you live. However, how do you get clarity around your identity? I felt like the word needed to have an element of action. This is how I landed on the word “reframed”.

What does it mean to have your identity reframed? Before we can answer that question, we have to be clear on the concept of identity.

Identity, as I describe it, is a person’s belief about who they are and how they got here. It speaks to their self-worth and can be influenced by the voices we listen to and the experiences we have. As I share in my recently released book, Hope Realized, my life was impacted by the voice of a teacher who told me I was not very smart. Whether intentionally or not, she influenced the way I saw myself and my future as a learner for a period of my life. Thankfully, me story did not stop there. Despite my lack of self-worth as a preteen boy, Grandpa, one of my grandfathers, wrote me letters to remind me I was not destined for a life of “less than” but rather created by a God who had a plan for my life.

This speaks to the impact our belief about how we got here has on our identity. Do we believe we were born into a particular station in life with little hope to change it? Do we believe the reality in which we were born into is permanent, or, do we believe there is hope for something more? Do we believe we were created by a God who loves us and created us on purpose and with a purpose? What we believe about ourselves starts with how much innate potential we believe we contain. If you believe your existence is meaningless with little hope for change, you will live accordingly. Conversely, if you believe you were created with potential and purpose, you will see life through that lens.

In Hope Realized I talk about my friend, Leyla, who spent a large portion of her childhood living in the Puente de Amistad orphanage in the impoverished community of El Canon, Nicaragua. It would have been easy for Leyla to believe her life lacked meaning and hope. Sadly, this was the case for many young people in El Canon. However, her identity was not defined by her present reality but rather by her created value. Leyla believed she was full of God given potential, which filled her with hope, changing the way she saw life and influencing her decisions.

It is stories like Leyla’s and mine, and many others, that led me to the word reframed. The act of reframing is taking what is there, stripping it down, and rebuilding it from a different perspective. Reframing your identity means changing the way you see yourself and your innate potential. Instead of allowing your past and present reality and voices to define you, you rebuild your identity through the lens of your God-given potential and value. In other words, you reframe your identity around the truth that you were created on purpose and for a purpose by a God who loves you. This act of reframing creates real hope, producing a spark that starts the engine of real change.

When this is combined with a real opportunity the possibility of a rewritten story emerges, but more on this next time. Check out my recently released book Hope Realized to dive deeper into the power of a reframed identity and how it has sparked change. You can also go to to receive more thoughts on how to be a part of bringing hope to others.

James Belt

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