The following three elements contribute to the formation of our identity:

Continuity

Our history forms the foundation of our identity. At a biological level, we are connected to our forebears, and learning about their lives in the past helps us understand ourselves better in the present. We may discover an innate proclivity that runs through our families or better comprehend the nature of an inherited conflict between ourselves and others. Often, our history offers answers to the “why” questions related to our identity, thus equipping us to accept those things that we cannot change and courage to challenge those things we must change.

Uniqueness

When we think about identity, it is most often in the context of uniqueness—what makes me different from everyone else? Physical markers like unique fingerprints support our intuition that we are unlike anyone else who has ever existed. The individuality of the Persons of the Godhead provide another indication that being created in the image of God entails a uniqueness to our individuality (see Gen. 1:26, 27).

Affiliation

Finally, we draw a sense of identity from the social groups we belong to (family, church, community, nationality). In these groups, our ideas about meaning and purpose are refined, challenged, and sometimes even created. Once again, the unity of the Godhead intimates that we were not created to live in isolation—humanity was intentionally created as a community of male and female; distinct but affiliated.

We may look to Scripture for an understanding of our history, individuality, and communality at every level of our lives: the micro (our individual selves), meso (familial), macro (communal), and global aspects of our identity.