If someone asked, "Who are you?" how would you answer? You might tell them your occupation or job title: I am a teacher or community developer. You might tell them your role in relation to other people: I am Bobby's mom or Patricia's sister. You might respond with your passion: I am a world traveler or an artist. Or you may reference your faith tradition, political orientation or the city you grew up in.
People are multi-faceted, each with a unique story and background. But underneath what you do, where you are from and who you know—who are you?
Scripture points to the fascinating paradox that you can only find your life through losing it for Christ's sake (Matthew 16:25, GNTD). Life in Christ leads us into a deeper, fuller identity that is only found in God. The new life he gives us challenges us to give up what defines us on the surface—jobs, interests and even relationships—to discover who we are becoming through Christ and in union with God.
For centuries Christians have pointed to the interdependence of our selves and God. St. Augustine expresses this concept well in his prayer, "Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee."
Knowing who we are—our real, core selves—is central to knowing God. And knowing God—the Creator, Sustainer, and Giver of Life—is the only way to uncover who we are.
So, who are you?
Knowing your true self begins with knowing you are God's beloved child. At the start of Jesus's ministry, as he was being baptized, a voice came from heaven and said, "You are my own dear Son. I am pleased with you" (Mark 1:11, GNTD).
There were countless times in Jesus's life that could have challenged him to doubt this affirmation. People questioned who he was and ridiculed his teaching. He died under a sign mocking his identity, "Hail, King of the Jews!" (Matthew 27:29, GNTD). But Jesus's last words conveyed his steadfast relationship with God, "Father! In your hands I place my spirit" (Luke 23:46, GNTD). This relationship was foundational in carrying out his purposes in the face of many challenges.
We too are faced with competing messages about who we are. You may hear voices from your own internal dialogue or from others saying you are unworthy, unskilled, unattractive or simply not enough. You may even start to believe that these negative statements define you. Finding yourself in Christ involves attuning your ear to God's voice, which continues to say, "You are my own dear Son or Daughter. I am pleased with you."
Take a moment to quietly sit before God. Ask yourself, "Who am I?" Observe the things that come to mind. Then meditate on God's words, "You are my own dear Son or Daughter. I am pleased with you."
Dark and Light
We contain many different characteristics: doubt and fear, faith and courage, strength and vulnerability. Some parts of us we are comfortable sharing with others, other parts we want to reject or ignore. We are often like the Apostle Paul caught between human nature and the desire to do good (Romans 7:15-20, GNTD).
Yet the Psalmist says God already knows everything about us, "Lord, you have examined me and you know me. You know everything I do; from far away you understand all my thoughts" (Psalm 139:1-2, GNTD). Not only does God know all of this and still love us, but through this intimate knowledge God can lead and guide us (Psalm 139:23-24, GNTD).
Knowing who you are requires knowing all the parts of your self. It means allowing God to show you the places that have remained hidden from others, and more significantly, from you. In this way, we invite God to lovingly show us the parts that we may not acknowledge or accept. Then we can declare alongside the Psalmist that God is in both our light and dark places, "Even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to you" (Psalm 139:12 GNTD).
Take your journal to a private place where you can reflect. Write a prayer to God. Be as honest as possible. Say exactly what you think, feel and desire. Let all the parts of yourself be seen: the light and dark. Invite God to be present, and offer your whole self to God.
Followers of Christ are in a process of becoming more and more like Christ—being transformed into the fullness of our identities as children of God. Scripture says, "You have put off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image" (Colossians 3:10a, GNTD). As we grow in union with God through Christ, we are set free from destructive habits and false identities. We are invited into a lifelong journey in which we are continually renewed and formed into God's image.
This process of becoming more like Christ involves knowing God and being known by God. Scripture says, "What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror" (1 Corinthians 13:12a GNTD). But as we gaze at God, like spending time looking into a mirror, the image clarifies and our lives begin to reflect what we see.
Spend 20 minutes every day this week gazing upon God by reading Scripture. Begin by reflecting on the attributes of God described in Psalms 25, 46, 62, 91 and 103. What characteristics stand out to you? What do you learn about who God is? Let these observations sink in and begin to make them part of yourself.
Join me in a closing prayer:
Dear God, Give me the courage to lose my life as I have known it so that I can find fullness of life in you. Lead me into a deeper knowledge of you and a deeper knowledge of myself. Attune my ear to your voice calling me your beloved son or daughter. Silence the voices that tell me I am unworthy or not enough. Help me share all the parts of who I am with you—the light and the dark. Expose my shame with the light of your everlasting love, and continue to renew me in your image. Amen.
One way to uncover your identity in God is through spending time daily in Scripture
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