By Tim Tebow
Being cut hurt. No doubt, being told I couldn’t do something that I loved doing and was so passionate about—playing quarterback—left me shaken.
When your health fails …
When you lose your job …
When you get divorced …
When your dream flops …
When you make that one bad decision …
What do you do when something that has defined you your entire life is gone?
When your platform disappears …
When your perfect family is torn apart …
When you go bankrupt …
When your looks fade …
In tough moments like these, it’s easy to question who we are. When my NFL career was crumbling, at times I’d wonder the same thing. Am I the person who won the Heisman Trophy? Or am I the person who has been told over and over by so-called analysts that I can’t throw?
The dictionary defines identity as “who someone is, the name of a person, the qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others.” I like to say that identity comes not necessarily from who we are, but from whose we are.
I am a child of God. My foundation for who I am is grounded in my faith. In a God who loves me. In a God who gives me purpose. In a God who sees the big picture. In a God who always has a greater plan.
Who am I? I am the object of His love.
That’s a big deal. It’s important to take God’s love personally, though it may not be an easy thing to do. Sure, God loves the world, but He also loves each one of us individually. With billions of people on the planet, I know it can be hard to comprehend His love for us personally.
God is infinite and lavishly shares His love with you and me. He can’t spread Himself too thin. He cannot exhaust Himself. He cannot overextend Himself. And so every single person on the planet is the object of His love. Pretty incredible, right?
Love has been described as “the greatest and purest essence of who a person is and its proper expression brings fulfillment.” God doesn’t choose to love. It’s His nature, His essence, His being. “God is love.” It’s what motivates His every move, inspires His action. It’s a reflection of His heart, His character.
God was love even before creation, because He has always been part of an eternal community of love: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
God’s love is nothing like what we see depicted in the movies or even in our lives. Our fallen human nature typically evidences love as something we do in order to get—a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. Or something we do in order to experience a particular feeling, a feeling that’s fickle and fleeting. Or something that can be easily manipulated, dialed up or dialed down. God’s love is nothing like this.
His love is pure. It never fails. It is unconditional. It is eternal. It is not motivated by personal gain. He just loves because He is. It’s worth noting that “unconditional love does not mean that God loves everything we do, but rather His love is so intense that He loves every sinner, no matter how vile and despicable he or she may be in the eyes of humanity.”
We can know we are special when we see the difference between God’s love and human love. Coaches might love us because we score touchdowns. Your girlfriend might love you because you’re the quarterback of the football team. Your friend might love you because you’re funny and always there for him.
But would they die for you? Would they give up their lives so that you could live? That’s what Jesus did. He didn’t just say He would die for us; He actually did.
Jesus died for you. Did you get that? If you were the only person on this planet, He still would have died for you. That’s some powerful stuff!
Knowing I am the object of His love lays the groundwork for who I am. I am wanted. I am adopted into His family. I belong. A sense of belonging is a basic human need, just like food and water.
We all want to feel loved and accepted. This is why middle and high schools are full of different cliques and groups. And this is why many attach themselves to the jocks, the musicians, the overachievers, the theater crew, the rebels, or the popular crowd.
But who I am is not based on others, on fitting in, on belonging to a certain crowd, or on living a certain lifestyle. My identity is based on belonging to God. No one can take this foundation away from me.
I know this to be true, and while I often need to be reminded, I aim to live by these truths every day.
Excerpted from Shaken by Tim Tebow Copyright © 2016 by Timothy R. Tebow. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.