My good friend, Mark, took this picture of me yesterday at our home church. My kids – and several of their buddies – had a great time running up to people at church, asking for their nametags, slapping them on my back, and heading out for more nametags. People laughed every time they saw me and several asked, “So, who are you?” Outwardly, I threw out something about “feeling very Sybil today, ” but inwardly I was thinking, “How many of us ask don’t really know the answer to that question?” Ironically, our guest speaker (who spent the first 18 years of his life as an orphan in the former Soviet Union) spoke of the importance of identity.
The issue of identity has been rolling around in my mind ever since writing a chapter about it in my last book: Like Ice Cream: The Scoop on Helping the Next Generation Fall in Love with God’s Word For most of the last year I can’t get these words out of my head:
“If we live out our faith from a place of identity instead of a place of morality everything would change.”
Daily God has been asking me if I am living the way I am living and doing what I am doing because it is the natural result of who I am or because I think I am “supposed to.” He has been showing me that the most important thing I can teach my kids is not just a sense of right and wrong, but who they are. If they are clear on who they are, the decisions they make will more frequently be in line with that truth. They will live generous lives because it is who they are, not just because generosity is a good thing or something the Bible says to do. They will tell the truth because they are honest kids, not because lying is wrong.
As I was pondering identity several months ago, my mind wandered back to the decade of my childhood that was spent on a soccer field. I loved soccer. I played. I practiced. I said “no” to other things so that I could say “yes” to soccer. At the end of the school day, when I put on my shorts, laced up my cleats and headed out to the fields, I guess you could technically say that I chose to turn left toward the soccer field instead of right toward the baseball field, but it certainly didn’t feel like a difficult choice. I was a soccer player – not a baseball player. I had been a baseball player at one time, but I wasn’t any longer.
The decisions to play in the games (which I loved), attend every practice (which was mostly fun), and run sprints (which I hated) were simply the natural outcome of knowing that I was a soccer player. Were those the right decisions? Of course. Did I make those decisions because they were the right ones? Not at all. I made them because I was a soccer player.
What if you and I lived our lives truly believing these words:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” I Peter 2:9
Let this sink in: You are chosen. You are cherished. You are forgiven. You are created to declare His praise. You are not alone. You are a child of the King. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are not forgotten. You are worth dying for.
So, let me ask you: Do you know who you are?