What is my identity in Christ? This is a common question than many teenagers — especially teenage girls— are wrestling through. Whether it’s insecurity brought on by social media, jealousy because of what all the other girls at school are wearing, or the feeling of not being good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough because of the endless pressures put on them at every turn, teenage girls face an especially difficult challenge in silencing the critics from within and without in their pursuit of living a life honoring to Christ and finding their identity rooted in him.
Though I have no first-hand experience with the particular temptations and struggles many of these teenage girls face, I have had my fair share of discussions and observations with middle and high school girls in my role as a youth pastor. While it was shocking to me in the beginning, it has sadly become an all-too-common experience to find teenage girls struggling with their body image, comparisons, perfectionism, peer pressure, self-harm, and many other identity-related issues.
What Is My Identity In Christ?
What are the root issues going on in these struggles? Is there any hope offered in Scripture? In response to these two questions specifically, Kristen Hatton has written an excellent new book on this issue — Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World. Hatton says at the end of the book that this book was primarily born out of the experience of walking alongside her teenage daughter who was battling an eating disorder. While walking through this with her daughter, as well as through her time leading Bible studies with teenage girls, she began to be broken and burdened by the struggles and temptations that were swirling all around these teenage girls.
As this burden continued to grow, Kristen began to reach out to girls through social media to conduct an informal survey. What she found was that her daughter was not alone in this struggle. It didn’t matter if the girl was from a big city or small town, public school or homeschool, the struggles and temptations crossed all barriers. What she found in the responses of these teenage girls was that “a lot of problem behaviors have their roots in an identity crisis” (3). Reflecting on this conclusion, she notes:
“As a Christian, I believe that only Jesus can provide the deep security, value, worth, love, and acceptance we all long for. But I know that it’s sometimes hard to see what that looks like and how to find it. That is why I’ve written this book. If you’ve been struggling with an identity crisis of your own – and maybe some behaviors and thoughts that intensify it — I hope you will find great hope in reading it. I hope, first, that you’ll see you are not alone and, second, that you’ll discover how to rest in your true identity, found only in him” (3).
What follows is an excellent, readable, engaging book that helps these girls (and those ministering to them) understand their true identity in Christ in order to face the false identities that are all around them.
The first part of the book, which comprises the first 5 chapters, focuses on the girl’s true identity. After looking at “Our Selfie World Reality” in chapter one, which just gives the landscape of the culture in which these girls find themselves in right now, the next 4 chapters look to Scripture to see what is going on, and what the solution is. These chapters include a wonderful look at the storyline of the Bible, beginning with the sin problem that we all face and ending with what Christ came to do on our behalf through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father.
The second part of the book takes the truths of the first part — our biblical identity — and applies them to 12 different false identities that many teenage girls face. Each of these chapters includes a fictional story of a girl dealing with an issue, followed by a series of questions designed to allow the reader to diagnose what is going on with the girl in the story. Finally, each chapter ends with a “truth time,” where the author applies the truths of the first part of the book to the specific situation being addressed in that chapter. The 12 false identities that are addressed are:
“Why is it so easy to take our eyes off Jesus and fix them on other things? Why can’t life always be lived on the spiritual mountaintop where we see everything clearly, instead of constantly falling back downhill? Why is seeing who Jesus is for us so difficult? Here is a reason you may not have expected: Idolatry!” (41).
Why You Should Buy This Book
What I loved about this book more than anything was it’s Gospel-centeredness from start to finish. Many books dealing with the struggles that girls face focus on simple self-help maxims — Build your self-esteem, remember your worth, etc. However, this book is robustly biblical in taking the reader back to Scripture to understand the root sin that is going on and the answer found in Christ alone. In the first part of the book, the reader will see her biblical identity rooted in the finished work of Christ alone. And this is not done in some superficial skimming-the-surface way, but by learning the truths of original sin, justification by faith alone, Jesus as our high priest, progressive sanctification, etc. The chapters do not go in-depth into these issues to where it become difficult to understand, but equally the author is careful to ground the reader in good, deep, accurate theology, not superficial Christian maxims that just scratch the surface. I found that to be a delight to my soul.
The other thing that I loved about the book was the opportunity (and encouragement) for the reader to “diagnose” the issues going on in each story in part 2 before reading the answers. This allows the reader to put into practice what she read in part 1 in applying these biblical truths to real-life scenarios. Then, and only then, should she move forward to read the author’s answers to the problem.
The book is laid out in an excellent way to be used for group Bible studies, one-on-one discipleship relationships, or even private study. It does seem best, though, that the book would be used by an older woman to teach a younger woman, in a Titus 2 type way, in order to help her with the issues and temptations she faces, as well as to encourage her and equip her for the ones that are to come.
It is crucial that we, as the Church, step up and help our teenage girls understand the world they find themselves in, the challenges and temptations they are (and will) face, and equip them to fight those temptations with the truth of their identity in Christ. This book is an excellent resource to help teenage girls find such help, as well as to help older saints better understand the challenges these young women are facing and better be able to minister to them on their level. I can certainly see a use for this book in our church in helping older women minister to younger women, as well as to help moms understand and equip their daughters as they walk through the tumultuous teenage years. I would wholeheartedly recommend that you buy a copy of this book, and then figure out a way to use if in your own life or in the life of your church.
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank New Growth Press for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.