The Identity Theft Problem
The Identity Theft Problem
Categories: RECENT RESEARCH
Robert Shaw, D.Min.
Excerpted with permission from Created for Significance: Discovering Who Defines Us and How We Obtain our Significance.
Over the last several years, many of us have had to deal with a problem that can be directly related to the high technology aspects of our time. In the past, theft was relegated to property, wallets, purses, bicycles, automobiles, and other items in our homes. Now, someone’s actually identity can be stolen by simply gaining the individual’s social security number, credit card number, or driver’s license, to name a few. Once our identity is stolen, or at least altered, a number of abuses can take place. We may see purchases on our credit card that we did not authorize. We may also have collection agencies call us for outstanding bills that we did not incur – which happened to me a couple of years ago.
I was contacted to pay an outstanding bill from a company I had never done business with and that was incurred by someone posing to be me in Alaska! I have never been to Alaska. I lived in North Carolina at the time. I had to do many things to prove that I was who I said I was, such as contact the local authorities and make a police report; contact all the credit report agencies; contact my credit card company; and contact the billing company to assure everyone that I was not the irresponsible customer that I was made out to be. All for a bill that was less than $60.00! To this day, I still do not know how it all happened. It was a very frustrating and time-consuming ordeal.
The results of such identity theft can be a reduced credit rating, a diminished personal reputation, and a feeling of being violated. When someone steals your identity, it may take a while to restore your reputation and to restore who you really are. The truth is that our identity was first stolen many thousands of years ago. Satan was successful in convincing Adam and Eve that God was not who He said He was, and that we were not who God said we were. Adam’s first mistake was not checking with his “Authority” in order to determine the truth. Since that time in the Garden of Eden, all of us have experienced in various ways, the feeling that our identity and significance are dependent upon what we do, what others do to us, do for us, say about us, or think about us. Abuse, emotional pain, too many external voices speaking to us, confusion, traumatic circumstances, weariness in disappointments, and feelings of neglect can alter how we feel about our world, our God, and ourselves. Somehow, our true identity has been stolen and altered. It is time that we “contact the Authority” to get back the truth of who we are.
God created you to be you. He designed you, He made you, He imparted to you certain gifts and talents, and He desires to empower you. Human beings were designed to live our lives to do three essential things: Make an impact, be in relationships, and glorify God. There are many people who have succeeded in accomplishing the first aspect. Unfortunately, many people have made a self-glorifying and destructive impact rather than a community-oriented and positive impact. There are many others who believe they can never make an impact no matter what they may have been given to work with. Very few people have been able to make an impact and glorify God. Why? I believe it is because we have allowed many experiences and worldly things, not to mention the devil, to steal from us our true significance. Our significance has been impaired by what others have said to or about us or by what they did to us. Sometimes we listen to our own mental “tape recordings” that have derailed our true significance. Essentially, many people have lost heart in the pursuit of who they are and of glorifying God. Ortberg states,
Psychologists have begun to speak of what is perhaps the largest mental health problem in our day. It is not depression or anxiety, at least not at clinical levels. It is languishing – a failure to thrive. Languishing is the condition of someone who may be able to function but has lost a sense of hope and meaning. Languishing is not the presence of mental illness; it is the absence of mental and emotional vitality . . . weariness of soul (Ortberg 2010, 30).
Life has a way of taking the wind out of our sails. Bad relationships, disappointments, emotional pain, and spiritual doubts have wreaked havoc upon our desires to be who God wants us to be. When we lose heart, we lose purpose. When we lose purpose, we lose significance. Life is the inner power to make something happen (Ortberg 2010, 31). If the devil can reduce us to nothing more than just existing, he has won. As long as we languish in the doldrums of what life has done to us, our significance is dead in the water. However, the good news is that Jesus came to save that which was lost (Matt. 18:11). Jesus did not just save us from something – He saved us for something. That is significance!
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Dr. Robert B. Shaw, Jr. is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in both Virginia and North Carolina. Dr. Shaw is an adjunct professor at Liberty University and a Clinical Trainer for graduate counseling intensives. He is also an ordained minister, serving as an elder and executive pastor in churches for over 25 years. He has also been a middle school and high school teacher and athletic coach in both the public and private school environments. Dr. Shaw spent several years counseling military personnel and their families near FT. Bragg, NC and specializes in abuse and trauma related issues, addictions, depression, anxiety disorders, life adjustment issues, loss and grief, counseling church leaders and pastors, and adolescents and adults. Dr. Shaw has a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Wagner College, New York where he attended on an athletic scholarship in track & field; a Master of Divinity Degree from Christian International Theological School, Florida; a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University, Virginia; and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Formational Counseling, from Ashland Theological Seminary, Ohio. Dr. Shaw and his wife, Lorinda, a registered nurse, have been married since 1978, and have five children together and six grandchildren. He enjoys running, the beach, sports, music, traveling to historical sites, and spending time with family.