Who am I?
Have you ever stopped long enough to consider this question? And do you have an answer? Do you know who you are?
This basic question is asked by most everyone sooner or later. Even the non-introspective types take it on their tongues; that is, when all the frantic activity comes to an end. A very personal question, it comes up again and again. Perhaps it is asked so often because the answer is not always immediately obvious. The answer isn’t compelling or clear.
Who am I? Who are you, really?
Maybe other curious creatures also raise this probing question. Or is it only human beings who sometimes seem perplexed? For example, what kind of thoughts would you expect to find in the brain of an average bear? What is a furry creature like a bear for, anyway? Do they wonder? And how about the specific and unique purpose of any particular hungry bear you happen to meet deep in the forest while hiking all alone?
For some reason, it’s a challenge to imagine a young grizzly bear perched high up on a mountain side peering up into the night sky and pondering the meaning of the universe and its place in it all. At least for me. If a bear was asked about his personal aspirations and identity he would probably simply say, “Give me lots of berries, a lost human hiker or two…and I’m good.”
While each person will have to work towards an answer to this lingering question, here are a few answers to avoid along the way:
1. “I am…completely defined by what other people think or say”
The other day, I had the unpleasant experience of standing in line at a fast food restaurant and being forced to listen to a disturbing conversation going on in front of me. Thankfully, I can’t remember ever listening to a conversation quite like this one.
For some reason, one older man felt compelled to put his companion or friend down in this public place. He did this again and again. I witnessed verbally abusive behaviour that was completely uncalled for. And I hope that the other man didn’t believe or accept what was said.
Most of the time, of course, the situations we find ourselves in are not as obvious or as cut-and-dried. Usually it is a good idea or rule of thumb to carefully consider what other people think and say – particularly people you are close to and respect.
But at the same time, always remember this: No influential person or party or group or culture or family member or friend can define who you truly are.
It just doesn’t work that way.
2. “I am…completely defined by what I happen to think or say”
Well then, is it possible to define yourself in absolutely any way you happen to like? Some people seem to think so.
Despite evidence to the contrary, they insist that reality must be infinitely flexible. They are apparently whoever they claim to be. And nobody is allowed to say otherwise. When the “Sez who?” question is asked, they have an answer. They are the answer.
If I say that I am a skilled metal worker or a brilliant scientist or male or female or the product of a random cosmic event, etc. then so it must be. The idea is to pretty much block everything out and then assume that the universe will adjust to fit the latest ideas that happen to be bouncing around in your head.
Shocking but true. Crazy, but all too common.
For the record, this extreme position tends to be embraced by those who claim to have lost their faith in an established philosophy or religion or faith or worldview. Oddly enough, they simultaneously seem to discover an enormous – some would say ridiculous – amount of faith in themselves.
3. “I am…completely defined by my understanding of what God thinks or has said”
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a believe-whatever-you-happen-to-like statement at all. This is a word of caution.
As you may know, there was a time when many Christians thought that a very limited number of honourable occupations were available to them. Being a pastor or missionary or teacher or nurse or full-time Christian worker of some sort got you lots of respect. But that was about it.
Thankfully, this understanding is no longer as prevalent as it once was. But given such a situation, what do you suppose might happen? Young people who are not really suited for these high-ranking roles might be tempted to force themselves to fit.
So you live and learn. Just because God has spoken doesn’t always mean that we each have a perfect understanding of what has been said.
Who am I? My creator knows who I am and what I could become. I don’t. Although I know much more now than I once did.
© Career & Life Direction 2013. All rights reserved.
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