“And, who are you?” You have been asked to introduce yourself. The expected answers include your work and your family, your good deeds and your values. However, I am asking the question at a deeper, eternal level, “And, who are you?” Beyond work, beyond family, beyond the expected, beyond the acts of kindness, where is your identity found?
“My identity?” you reply, “I have an identity. I know who I am.” But, the anchor of your identity in all likelihood it is scattered in a wide variety of things, good things, such as relationships, competencies, values, and so forth.
We naturally draw a sense of who we are by family, work, abilities, etc. However, if these concerns are the anchor of identity, the odds are you will become dependent on the approval of others. Or you will become utterly dependent on your own perfectionism, doing everything just right. Things just right tends to be the central source of knowing who you are.
When your source of identity is located in the approval of others or your own measure of your success, you are on dangerous spiritual ground. Living with a demanding performance drive to secure your sense of self is a difficult way to live. Jesus warned us:
Do not do your “acts of righteousness”
before men to be seen by them
When our sense of self, of value, of worth is dependent on making sure others see what we have done, we must be careful that we are not falling into the trap of allowing others to determine our identity. Jesus also taught us how to do good and be good:
Let your light so shine before men
that they might see your good deeds
and praise your Father in Heaven
The spectator of our good deeds, our abilities, our competencies, our relationships, our values, and our behavior is our Father in Heaven. His love for you is the core of true identity. “I am God’s Child!” This is the solid foundation for who you are.
Do your best, but do it for the Father in Heaven. Be your best and be sure your best is only possible because you belong to your Father in Heaven.
And here is great news: when your best is not all that great, when your best is anything but your best, your Father in Heaven is still there. He says, “I love you as you are, but together, we can do better than this.”
Copyright © Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.