Then God said, “Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created humans in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
The single most important question we can ask ourselves is Who am I? I’m convinced of it. The issue of identity drives our thoughts, desires and actions. It motivates our interactions with others and our search for meaning.
We find the answer to our true identity in the beginning, before we take our first breath. “Let us make humans in our image…” There it is. We’re created in the image of God. Our identity.
Who am I?
You’re beautiful and loved, created by and filled with divine DNA.
Our identity never has nor will be “out there.” We don’t discover it. We can’t earn or buy it. We never lose it.
For some reason, however, we tend to look “out there” for our identity. All of us do it. We identify and latch on to false narratives and self-perpetuating lies. We trade in who we really are for who we think we are. The shift is so subtle, we hardly recognize that we’re looking for ultimate meaning in work or success or others’ opinions or house in the burbs.
But it happens. And as these sources of meaning deepen their roots in our heart and mind, we become more lost and addicted. Pain and disillusionment set in as well. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say all evil flows the loss of identity.
That’s why Who am I? matters. As a culture, we’ve lost our identity. We’re frantically grabbing for power, control, affirmation, and security because we assume that if we have it, we will be content and feel special. In the process, we’ve become more anxious. We neglect the poor and marginalized. We’re more skeptical of our neighbor and more reliant on institutions for security.
Henry Nouwen once identified three basic lies we believe about our identity:
1. I am what I do.
2. I am what I have.
3. I am what others think about me.
Looking at my life, these lies have perpetuated my fractured sense of identity. For years, I climbed the ladder and fed off the quest to the top. Ambition was my idol. I served it faithfully. I also remember the immense pain and feeling of hopelessness after meeting rejection for the first time. Darkness swept over my soul for weeks.
All three of these lies are can become easy replacements for who we really are.
Advent is an invitation to re-center your life, to stop looking for your identity “out there.” God is here. The Savior has come. Remember who you are and whose you are. See the depth of God’s love for you. He’s willing to become human so you can become whole.
No more lies. No more illusions. No need to grab for power or control or turn to others for security and affirmation. Come experience Jesus, everyone who’s anxious and tired, everyone who needs peace and comfort. He will give you rest.
Which of Nouwen’s three basic lies do you identify with most? Begin to pay attention to how this lie drives your thoughts and actions.
God, forgive me for losing my way and forgetting who I am. You created me in your image. I’m infinitely loved by you. Help me let go of any futile attempt to earn my worth. Help me instead to rest in who I am and whose I am. Amen!