Last week I had a few encounters that led me to thinking about personal identity. How do you introduce yourself? What do people know you as? What's the mini-bio speech you rehearse for a group of new people? Recently mine has been something like,
"Hi, I'm Kate Wright. I graduated from Master's a couple of years ago and now I work for a chiropractor here in Santa Clarita."I get a few "oh's" and "hmmh's," and occasionally someone will ask if I get free adjustments.
At the gym people often comment to me if I'm wearing a USC t-shirt. "Did you see the big game last night?" "Go USC!" "Fight on!" Recently there was a guy who saw my USC shirt, yelled "fight on!" at me, and after seeing that he was wearing a UFC t-shirt, I replied, "let's get it on!" It was great. And then last week as I was exiting the gym there were a couple of older men in front of me, and one of them turned around as he opened the door and said to me, "I guess I'll hold the door open for a Trojan fan." Turns out he's a Notre Dame fan (that's a no-no).
Sometimes we are even identified as our marital status. Single. Divorced. Waiting. Married. Betrothed (okay, maybe just engaged).
At church I am oftentimes introduced as someone who is on high school youth staff. And even after four years of this ministry people still have to double-check that I'm not in fact serving on junior high staff. All in all, I'm starting to realize that our identity is based on what we do.
This is my friend Carly. She's Macy & Cameron's mom. She taught high school Spanish until she had kiddos.
Have you met Anna? She's a kindergarten teacher and is married to our high school director.
My sister Tamsen is a senior at Sonoma State University.
Oh yeah I know Eric. He teaches at Santa Clarita Christian School. He heads up a club there, too.
You know Michelle, too? Yeah, she works with me at Dr. Standifer's office.
All this has got me to thinking about what I want my identity to be. In a fleeting moment a few weeks ago I realized that I've been introducing myself in a way that identifies with only where I work or what I have done in the past. This isn't necessarily wrong or bad, but I realized that it's just like the rest of the world. It's like the heathen who is perhaps merely living. What do I want to be identified as? I want to be identified as one who loves the Lord and pours out her life in appreciation for the salvation that she has received. Forget being a USC fan, or a swim coach, or a chiropractor's assistant, or a seamstress or surfer or former nanny. I don't care if people know I can play a musical instrument or have skill x, y or z.
Last week Tim mentioned in youth group a scenario from Old Testament times. The Israelites literally identified themselves and each other as "Kate, who loves the Lord but struggles with materialism" or "Daniel, who isn't quite sure what to believe about God yet." How about "Naomi, who runs herself out serving Christ through church and is continually trusting Him for provision." And then there's "Chelsea, who sends her children to a Christian school, professes to know God, but is consistently intoxicated and is known for dealing with anger." And many of us know "Cory, who doesn't even believe."
I so desperately want them to know my identity as being alive in Christ. Not for selfish reasons, but quite the opposite, that they, too, might align their identity with Christ.