Identity is a strange thing. An identity gives us allegiance, it unites us with something, with others. An identity gives us worth, grants value to our lives. Our identity is integral to who we are, what we chose to do, and how we spend our lives. With something so important to our lives, it can be difficult to put into words, and it is not something we discuss very often. I do not think that I have ever had another person ask me what my identity is. It was something I had to determine for myself.
When I was younger I wanted my identity to be the cool guy, the funny guy. I wanted to have the sleekest look and the best one liners. I felt like a king when I could make an entire room burst into laughter.. Having someone tell me my shoes were the coolest or asking where I got my glasses made me feel like I could stand a little taller. However, when a joke fell flat or nobody noticed my new hat, it seemed like the whole world was caving in around me. I assigned a point value to my worth, to my identity.
It was an unsustainable life, one that forced me to try and suck up as much worth as I could, because it was a finite resource that I was competing for. There were only so many jokes that could be told. I had to tell them all before anyone else so I could get all the laughter, all the attention. It was a life full of pressure and performance. I was jealous of people funnier than me, I got mad when someone else got a compliment.
I was unhappy, I was paranoid, and I was tired.
One afternoon my first year of interning at Wesley I was praying for guidance about something. I do not even remember what it was. I just wanted God to tell me what to do because I knew that if I made the decision I wanted, it would be the selfish one. As I was waiting and listening I felt the lord ask me, “Do you trust me enough to trust yourself?” It was a strange question, of course I trusted God, but as far as I was concerned, I was not to be trusted. My motivations were to get attention, to lift myself up so I had value.
I spent the better part of a week pondering that question. I wondered why trusting myself mattered, why I would need to trust God to do that. I realized that God was not asking me if I trusted myself, or telling me that I could do whatever I wanted. Scripture says that in Christ we are made whole, that we become a new creation, that we die to the flesh. God was asking me if I trusted Him enough to trust that I could become a new creation. God was showing me that I did not trust that He would make me whole.
That began the process of learning to trust God to rework my life, to change who I was in the flesh into this “new creation” He promised. I had to give up my fear or being empty and worthless to Him. He called me to stop striving for wholeness in a world where it was limited, and find my identity where it was abundant. God was calling to stop being the “funny guy” and start being a child with a home.