What is identity? What does it mean to have an identity? These sound like questions that might find their answers in a college psychology text book or find its origins in texts discussing a priori concepts. But honestly, what does it mean to have an identity? It feels to me like identity is a statement of being that is rooted in questions. What I mean is that in and of myself I am a lot of things. I am a human. I am a man. I am a father. I am a compilation of a whole lot of things. But this definition is not sufficient. Because the part of me that asks the question “Who am I” is not necessarily satisfied with the fact that I exist physically. It is not satisfied with a list of events or states that I might be currently living in. If this is how identity is achieved then it is incredibly fragile.
Why do I say that? Well lets go back to some of those original statements. “I am a father”. This is a place that a lot of men draw their identity. I draw from this source as well. But what if I turned out to be a deadbeat and told my wife to take the kids and never come back? Let’s say that she gets remarried and I have nothing to do with those children. I am no longer a father, and just like that it was as easy for me to change my identity as it was to change my clothing. I don’t mean that it was emotionally easy. I mean that as a technical list of events I went from being a father to not being a father. Do not get caught up in the example because this is not an analysis of whether or not this guy is a father. The analysis is about things coming and going from your identity. Just because you draw identity from something does not mean that thing is a good or pure well. I use the noun “well” in this instance because it seems to me like an identity is something we go to and gather things from.
Isn’t it interesting that we often have to go to some source outside of ourselves for identity?
We are almost never the originators of the things that we draw identity from. We weren’t the first fathers. We weren’t the the first this or the first that. We do an incredible amount of things in order to be special or spectacular. We try to be different. We want to be the greatest. We want to be the originator. Yet, for all of this effort, nothing that we try to get an identity from can explain its own origins and therefore is not the originator of even its own identity.
What’s worse is when we try to turn to our physical being for identity. Some people might say, when introducing themselves to others, “I’m a homosexual” or “I’m an alcoholic”, etc. etc. I think it’s an awful thing when we identify ourselves with our desires. I struggle with lust. I struggle with drinking too much alcohol. When I say that I struggle I mean that sometimes I do things that I shouldn’t do and I have an affinity to do those things. I am just being candid. But I shouldn’t go around telling people that this is part of my identity. Why? Because, first off we shouldn’t assume that our desires are good. Secondly, we become the thing that we confess as our identity. And if I tell you that I am an alcoholic I will reap the contents of that closet. I will pull out things that come from the spiritual reality behind those words.
I have a friend that for the longest time would swear up and down he didn’t have a problem with alcohol. He would tell me that he wasn’t an alcoholic. And I would look at him like he was nuts. I watched him, he had problems. He drank everyday and not just a little. To me, by all outward appearances he was an alcoholic. The old saying is that in order to get help you have to first admit that you have a problem. But most people confuse this saying with the assumption that you have to admit that you’re an alcoholic, but that’s incorrect. Later as time went by and I had a chance to think about it I realized that by not claiming to be an alcoholic, my friend was hanging onto some hope. My friend was giving himself time to find something else that would cure him from his addiction. He was looking for a real identity, a strong identity. In retrospect, maybe it was me that was crazy for assuming that he should take on that label of death.
Please don’t label yourself by your desires. If you are like me and you are struggling with something and you have been fighting your desires, don’t give up. Don’t think that failing makes you a failure. You are only a failure if totally quit, but you can choose to keep trying at a moments notice. So being a failure is only temporary. If you want to look for a strong identity then look for the giver of identity. Nothing in the universe can explain its existence, but the creator of the universe can explain all of those things. If you want a strong identity speak to God about who you are. You will undoubtedly be surprised and pleased with what you hear. You get yourself a strong identity and you will be surprised with how much you are able to achieve in life.
I just want anyone reading this today that I just love ya. I want the best for you. You have more potential than you could ever realize and I just want you to reach new levels of success. I want you to love life and I want you to be in it for the long haul. I want to see you achieve your dreams. Then we can give glory to God for it.
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