Who are You – Really? Many people struggle with the concept of personal identity. When we were children, most of us grew up confident in who we were – until we reached our teen years. At that point in life, we are bombarded with big issues of identity – body image; perfect hair, skin, and teeth; as well as the bigger picture things – career, further education, relationships, marriage, etc.
As we move through our lives, many things continue to shape our identity. For me, when I was young, I was a very self-confident child; outgoing, outspoken, friendly to a fault. When I entered my teens, I experienced a brief but profound time of anorexia that has continued to shape my personal viewpoint of my body image ever since. In my teens, I was challenged to choose college or marriage – I chose to marry. In my twenties, I gave birth to my son, enjoyed numerous volunteer leadership positions and experienced the pain of my marriage ending. In my thirties, I attended college, worked at a number of jobs, and married again – to a wonderful man I still enjoy sharing my life with today. In my forties, I worked solely in the financial industry and held several community leadership positions. As I begin my 5th decade, I find myself once again struggling with my personal identity – in similar but different ways that I did as a teen.
For one thing, I have found that I can’t base my personal identity on my “work personality”. The “me” that manages banks and creates client opportunities is a very time-crunched person, with little time for family, friends, or volunteering. As I visit with many wonderful people, they echo the same thing – the “person” that they were in their former career bears little resemblance to the “person” they are here and now.
Secondly, I have found that I can’t base my personal identity on my “family”. Families are fluid – meaning they flow and change. The “me” that devoted hours to raise my family is different than the “me” that enjoys the empty-nest with my husband, and is different than the “me” that cares for my elderly parents in our home. The only constant “family” identity word that I can use to describe myself is patient. I was patient raising my children, I have been patient living as an empty-nester, and I’m patient living in a mixed-generation household now.
Thirdly, I can’t base my personal identity on my location. The “me” that lives in north Idaho is a different “me” that lives in St. George. I enjoy different pursuits, hobbies, restaurant choices, shopping habits – you name it – it’s different.
The conclusion that I have come to is that in order to know who I really am – I need to understand why I’m here, what I was created for, and my purpose in life. The answer to that – I have found – is through God’s word. “For in Him we live, move and have our being…” Acts 17:28.