Although he was far from having all the right answers, Erik Erickson is well known in the psychology sphere, especially when it comes to childhood development. He divided the human life into eight stages. At each stage, the person is faced with a crisis which must be overcome. For teenagers, this crisis is discovering a sense of self and answering the question, “Who am I?” The goal is to gain identity achievement: a successful knowledge of ones own self, existence, and desires.
We have all seen it: teenage children are dressed head-to-toe in Lily Pulitzer one day only to emerge wearing metal chokers and chains the next. Their interests jump from soccer to poetry to fashion to rugby to horses. The strive to find their “niche.” They question their purpose.
Psychologists also use words such as “foreclosure” and “moratorium” to explain this time, claiming that children seemingly give up on finding themselves. Foreclosure occurs when someone immaturely accepts an identity that others assign them without considering their true desires. When children delay their own identity achievement, they are said to be in a state of moratorium (college is accused as being the top means of moratorium).
Last summer, I was told that we learn who we are once we know whose we are. According to Titus 2:14, Christ “gave himself…to make us his very own people.” I am Christ’s. I Peter 2:9 says that Christ’s “peculiar possessions” should “declare the praises of him who called [them] out of darkness into his wonderful light.” I am a herald of God’s glory. Similarly, Hebrews 9:14 explains that because of Christ’s death, “we may serve the living God.” I am God’s servant.
Identity may be known as the crisis of adolescence, but it doesn’t have to be.
Who am I?
I am God’s. That is enough.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.