Identity

Inspired by a few observations and conversations lately, I’ve been thinking about identity. By identity, I’m specifically thinking about how we find our worth, and also how we keep in mind who we are based on our understanding of who God is and how he sees us.

Today I flew home from a trip to Detroit. One observation I had on the plane today was of a man one row up from me. I’m guessing he was at least 75 years old. I was first drawn to him because I was trying to figure out where the smell of peanut M&Ms was coming from. Busted. But then I noticed something much more intriguing.

He was reading a book. The side of the book I could see was being held open by some type of clamp, something I hadn’t seen before. Being a reader, I thought it was maybe some type of gadget to help you keep your place. As I looked closer, the reality became clear. It was the end of a prosthetic.
As I watched this man, I saw further that his right hand appeared to be writhed by arthritis. This man had a lot going on. Yes, he was an amputee. But he was more than that. I saw that he was a reader, a lone traveler, a mobile device user, and a candy lover.

I wondered what his story was. How did he lose his limb? Was he a vet? Had he been a contractor who suffered a career-ending accident? Did he keep working regardless and now was enjoying retirement in Florida? Was he a survivor of a disease? Does he identify himself mostly as an amputee? Had it been so long ago that he’s lived longer with the prosthetic than without it? What was the basis of identity for this gentleman?

What should be the basis of anyone’s identity? 

  • What we do to make money? 
  • What we do to enjoy life? 
  • Who we know? 
  • What has happened in our life? 
  • What we hope to happen in our life?

I believe true identity is rooted in seeing ourselves as God sees us. He sees us as good creations, as males and females made in his image. Despite our choosing to reject him, he sees us as forgivable. Despite our replacing him with other gods, he sees us as worth waiting for when we return after those gods fail us. Bottom line: God sees us. He cares if we have a job or not, if we have all our limbs or not, if we love candy or not. Regardless, he sees us. Truly sees us. That’s all we really need to know in order to answer any questions about our identity.

Thank you, fellow traveler, for reminding me that we all have a story. We all have an identity. When seen as recipients of our Creator’s gift of life, we never truly have to wonder who we are. We can know that we are loved and forgiven, seen and known, observed and accepted. That’s a great identity.

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