When I’m at the beach, my mind often wanders to soul searching questions as I watch the waves. One of the questions I’ve been mulling over lately is how do I define myself. What makes me who I am. Aren’t we all asked at the beginning of any new relationship, class, or even job to define what makes us -us? The inquiries usually used are: Who are you? What do you do for a living? Please tell us a little about yourself. They seem so innocuous and easy but are they really?
I find that children quickly express with great confidence who they are with answers like I’m a swimmer, a ball player, or a dancer. The world is their oyster and an open book for them to define who they will be. During the high school to college age, the answer becomes more of a classification or a designation. They associate with their grade in school, their fraternity or sorority and the school they attend. The move into young adulthood changes the answer. At this stage, I think we generally see ourselves as graduates of a particular college or we label ourselves according to our employment and skills. Further down life’s road, the answers add personal information as well as marital status and parenthood. I’ve observed that men more often identify themselves by their job, first, and marital or family status, second, while women tend to do the opposite.
Though these answers are interesting and quite fascinating and tell a portion of our story, do they really reveal who we are? Defining ourselves by what we do, where we work, or our personal family status tells the world what we think they value hearing. How we believe others measure our worth.
Certainly, my place of employment, my interests and hobbies, and my personal life status do give definition to who I am but they are only a portion of the totality of all that I am. I have realized over the years that the definition of who I am has been an ever-evolving state. I’m still working out my answer to the question of how do I define myself. What defined me as a child is not necessarily relevant today as an adult. Those designations are part of who I was, not who I am today and the ones of today may not fit with who I will become. I am not bound to the designations of this moment’s definition of myself.
One of the biggest changes to impact my life and define who I am and how I relate to others comes from my relationship with God. As Christians, our lives should be found in Jesus Christ. We are made in the image of God, born anew, called, chosen, redeemed, justified, and are continually being transformed into His likeness.
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12,13
The Apostle Paul phrases his definition of identity this way.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. …Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:10,19,20
Walking forward into this new year, I pray that these truths about our identity will wash over us and sanctify us with the assurance and knowledge that we are the chosen children of God. The definition of who we are is found in Him.