After recently moving to the area, starting a new job, and moving in with new roommates a few months ago, I found I had the following conversation on an almost-daily basis: Hi my name is Kealy. I am from the Sacramento-area. I went to school in Southern California. I am a teacher of 7th grade English and Social Studies. I am…?
I can recite the words in my sleep. It became habit, and the more I relayed the information, the less significant it seemed. Moreover, I quickly found myself struggling to keep straight the steady stream of information flooding back at me: New Person—name, hometown, job, hobbies… Each wonderful, interesting person reduced to a name, dates, and facts. It seemed so superficial. But who are you really? I wondered with every handshake.
But then the process started me thinking… Who am I really? And what would it actually take for people to get to know that? Would people actually know me if we sat down and talked for hours about my past, present struggles, future dreams, passions, interests, and opinions? Would people actually know me if they met my best friends, or my family, or my mentors? What would it take?
The questions rattled in my brain. Who am I? I determined that if God, the creator of the universe, had made me, then God would be the best person to ask. So I was praying one day, and I came across a quote copied into my journal from a book I had just read: “The Bible does indeed ask us to look inside ourselves to discover our identity— but only after we look at God and God’s creation… Sequence matters. We can’t look inside until we know what God placed there for us to find” (Dave Lomas, The Truest Thing About You). Funny. Just after I had read this entire book about identity and faith, here I was struggling with the same questions the book sheds light on.
It seems that identity looms like an ever-present question mark at the end of everything we say or do: My name is Kealy? I am a teacher? Does that answer your question? Do you know me yet? We run around bumping into people, dropping bits and pieces of superficial information in attempt to make connections and communicate the whole of who we are, who we were, and who we want to be. And it’s messy, it’s draining, and it’s lonely as hell.
The irony, though, is that none of this is necessary. As Christians, we believe our identities are created and given by a God who made us for more than this superficial game of Twenty Questions. And what’s more, this is the God above all identities. The God who was, is, and will be forever. The ultimate identity, who had the audacity to put a period after the words “I am.” We are invited to lay down all these question marks at the feet of God’s own son, the one, true answer.
Clearly I still have a lot to learn, and it seems like a never-ending process. But my hope is that in the process of me laying down my questions and confusion, I will look around and see others by my side laying theirs down as well. What a beautiful introduction.
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