High school cheerleader. Colorado flower child (sort of). “Bleeding-heart liberal.” “Compassionate conservative.” Wife. Stay-at-home Mom. Professional. Born-again Christian. Worst of sinners. Anyone ever experience an identity crises? Our roles and assessments of ourselves can vary from year to year and sometimes from day to day. Maybe like me, you have at times found yourself wondering if the “real you” would just please stand up.
I believe the sense of identity and consequent security we long for is discovered not in what we do, but in whose we are. It begins with the deep down awareness that we are God’s child. We belong. We fit in the universe. We are his in our victories, but no less his in our failures. We are his when we get a book deal; we are his when we get the hundredth rejection. His…for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse. His in sickness. His in health. He has made a place for us in this life as well as the next (“If it were not so, I would have told you”).
Knowing we are his should be the backdrop for everything we face in life. It’s that outrageous affirmation that fills our insecurities and unleashes an identity strong enough to love others with abandon.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers a raw portrayal of the struggle and ultimate triumph of this sought after identity in his poem, “Who Am I?” Written while he was in prison awaiting execution for opposing the Nazi regime, it has inspired me numerous times when questions of my own identity have haunted my thoughts. I’ve included the last few lines with the hope it might encourage you as well:
Who Am I?
“Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woe-begone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely thoughts of mine,
Whoever I am thou knowest, O God, I am thine!”