by Annette Bridges. ©2008. All rights reserved.

How do you define yourself? As a mother, daughter, wife, husband, dad, or a son? Or perhaps as a student, teacher, manager, farmer, salesman?

Every day you create your own self-portrait. You name the image you see in the mirror and assign various qualities and attributes that you think go with your title. Then you act accordingly.

Your picture may be influenced by others’ perceptions, however, or by what you believe others think about you or expect from you. And you are likely to allow past experiences — your failures and successes — to further dictate and determine your abilities and your limitations.

What happens when your profile changes? Your kids are suddenly grown and move away from home. You get laid off from your job or you reach mandatory retirement. Your marriage ends in divorce or a spouse passes on.

Nothing can be more daunting than trying to reconfigure yourself, reinvent your life, and redefine your future — especially when the task arrives unexpectedly.

A new year is upon you. You must make a new beginning. Your old narrative no longer fits. You’re standing at a new road titled “self-discovery,” but reluctance, fear and lack of confidence is keeping you from moving up a street you’ve never been on. You are either unwilling to give yourself an overhaul or you’re clueless how to begin.

But perhaps what’s needed isn’t about defining a new you but rather discovering the true you — your identity as created by your heavenly Father.

This kind of self-discovery results in learning more about your “true” nature as it is divinely intended — without human conjecture, opinion, or critique.

There’s a phrase in the Bible that has given me a glimpse of how God views His children: the “…dearly beloved and longed for…” (Philippians 4:1) Thinking of myself as God’s dearly beloved and longed for helped me begin a new career when a former job of eight years ended. This was also at the same time my only child left for college.

Knowing I was the beloved of the Lord made me certain God only wanted good for His child. And the idea that God longed for someone like me assured there was still a purpose for my life, even though at first it was difficult to imagine myself doing something new and different.

It turns out the mirror can’t tell us about the image and likeness of God — that’s you and me, by the way. (Genesis 1:27) Only by learning more about God and His nature can we understand our own identity as created in His image and likeness.

As you become in touch with your true spiritual nature, nothing is beyond your means. You get a sense of your unlimited potential. You understand that your purpose never ends because it is ever being defined and directed by your Creator. And you can approach each moment with the knowledge that it contains within it, the potential for any number of possibilities.

Indeed, you can begin the New Year with a new you or rather with knowledge of the true you — the “you” that is always seen in His eyes. And this knowledge can change your life — again and again.