One of my favorite lines from Alice in Wonderland is when the Cheshire Cat asks Alice, "Who are you?" Alice replies, "I hardly know --- at least I know who I was when I woke up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."
I can't think of a passage that better describes adolescence. One of the privileges of working with young people at CCS is that it presents an unique opportunity to help them answer this question, to help them understand their identity.
Recently, a sixth grade girl and her mom toured the school, and when I met with them in my office, the student confessed, "I just don't know who I am!" I looked at her and said, "I know who you are --- you are a new creation, you are an image-bearer of God, and God has a plan for you." Her mother replied, "No one has ever said that to us before."
One of the unique qualities of CCS is the biblical counsel teachers have the freedom to give to students and their parents.
The other day, a 6th grade boy came to my office, very upset about a name another student had called him. I said to him, "Do you know who you are?" He shook his head no. I said, "In Christ, you are the first born son. Your name is written on the palm of God's hand." The boy started to tear up. I continued, "I'm sorry someone called you a name. That was wrong of him. I know it hurts. But, if you know who you are in Christ, you can let it go. That name doesn't have to affect you. Instead of thinking about the name you were called, spend the rest of the day thinking about who you are in Christ."
At last month's parent book club meeting, we discussed patterns of behavior that children adopt. On the one hand there are children in positions of power, those who want to control their surroundings and the people around them. On the other hand, there are children who feel quite powerless and can't fight peer pressure and need the acceptance of others. How do parents address these behaviors? They encourage their children to rest in their identity in Christ. If their identity is in Christ, if they know that Christ approves of them, they won't need to gain the approval of others. If their validation comes from Christ, they won't need to control others to feel powerful.
Every week in chapel, the students recite the following: "I have the mind of Christ, I have the wisdom of God, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, I am carved in the palm of God's hand, greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world, I am loved with an everlasting love, He will never leave me nor forsake me, I am for the Lord and great is my peace, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am the light of the world, I am the apple of God's eye, angels are encamped around about me, my footsteps are ordered by the Lord, He will lead me and guide me in the way I should go, everything my hand touches prospers, I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, I have favor with God and favor with man, I am the head and not the tail, I am above and not beneath, and I am more than a conqueror because He loves me."
Why do we recite this every week in chapel? Because we forget who we are! Kids are tempted to think that their identity --- their value, their validation, their sense of worth --- is based on what clothes they wear, or what someone says about them, a friendship, or a grade on a report card. Of course, grown ups struggle with this, too. We are tempted to think that our value and sense of worth is based on the number in our bank account, the number on the scale, a relationship, a new car, or fill in the blank. The problem with placing our identity in these things, is that they change. Moreover, they cannot fulfill the hope of redemption our heart longs for when we chase after the next new thing. My prayer and hope for CCS students is that they'll find their identity in the One who never changes, and the One who has redeemed us.
When you send your children to CCS, when you pray for CCS, and when you give to CCS you are helping parents and children understand who they are in Christ, and experience the freedom that comes from living in light of who we are in Christ.