Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Who Am I?

If this sounds like it was written in the middle of the night... it was.

This post is not about Les Mis, despite the title referencing one of the songs from said movie. (I liked it, but that's irrelevant.) But I do think it's interesting that the main character makes such a point of his identity, that he doubts it. It's one of those classic, fundamental questions, one of those harder-than-it-looks questions. Our attitudes are based on who we think we are. What we do flows from what we are. It's important, and it's confusing.

I've been thinking about who I am, recently, at my core. What defines me? I could, like Jean Valjean, answer the question with my name and leave it at that. I am whoever I am. I am my name. But that raises so many questions. Am I the me others see, am I my reputation, or am I whatever I want to be, or am I what I feel that I am? Am I my past, my aspirations, my beliefs, my actions...?

No. No, none of that defines me. I am Christ's. The rest is purely coincidental to my identity. And really, people, it's quite the identity.

Christ's. Whatever else I am, I belong to the world's Creator. I belong to the single greatest being who exists, the One who makes language look cheap when we try to describe Him, because He is beyond us. Infinitely. And I belong to Him. (Oh. Okay. Self-worth problem automatically taken care of. There is an inherent dignity in belonging to such a One. And of course, He calls me His beloved. Need for love likewise taken care of. I need no other love.)

Christ's. I don't belong to myself. My life is not my own. My life is not about me. It's not about what I am and do, but about what Christ is and did.

Christ's. I am redeemed. I am one for whom He died. Whatever I was before, whatever I am in and of myself, I am redeemed. I am saved. I am justified. I am spotless in the judge's eyes. And in my redemption, my identity is removed from myself and set in Christ, for when God looks at me, He doesn't see me, but the Son's righteousness. He sees not me, but one who belongs to the Son.

That is my identity. Whatever else I am falls away. I can be a sinner, a failure, a nobody who never did anything right or useful, I can be effectively invisible, but none of that is who I am. None of that is my identity. No, because I am Christ's.

And really, I think that's the only way to be joyful and honest at the same time. Self-esteem is a stupid idea, friends. It is not honest at all. Why would we esteem ourselves at all? We have no clue how wrong we are, how broken. We've never actually seen what we were supposed to be, and I have this idea that we don't, even in our most self-deprecating moments, know how far we've fallen. The only thing I deserve is Hell. That is all I have earned. But if we admit that, we must lead on to the truth, "But Christ has earned Heaven for me. I am His." Otherwise we are more honest about ourselves than those who cling to self-esteem, but we've nothing to rejoice over.

(Photo credit: my brother's skills) This is another philosophy that will fall short.  Because, sadly, you aren't Wolverine.

So my identity isn't in me. I have to put it elsewhere. And that leads to putting other things elsewhere. Joy. Peace. Hope. If you put them in yourself or other things or other people, you will be disappointed. You will break. The whole world, you with it, is up in the air, free-floating through space, and if you touch things, they move away. There's nothing to brace against, nothing to hold onto, no fixed point of reference, no fixed point of anything. Except God. Nothing moves Him. He's the constant. So you hand your heart over, you cling to Him with all you've got, you put your joy and peace and identity itself in Christ, and there alone it is perfectly safe, untouchable by both the mildest and the harshest of harms.

But of course, my joy and peace and identity aren't the point. He is. Those are naught but symptoms of knowing that all you really are is Christ's. You have to not care about those things before you can find them. You have to lose your life, lose it in Him, to find it. You have to be willing to give up everything, not temporarily, but to give up your grip on them eternally, and you will find them in your hand. Such things do not take to gripping.

I'm not saying that you should put your identity in Christ so that you can be happy. I'm saying that if your identity isn't in Christ, you shouldn't be happy until it is, and if it is, then for heaven's sake rejoice! Be at peace, be content, be glad, be hopeful, for your identity is invincible. Even if all of that didn't result from giving oneself to Christ, one still ought to do it, just as much, simply because it is right, and simply because He is glorious and beautiful. But idealism meshes surprisingly well with realism, and God is not only just, but merciful. (That's the fun of Christianity. You get to be an optimist, a pessimist, an idealist, and a realist all at the same time. Then you confuse everyone to death, which is also tremendously fun.)

Yet again, I'm deciding that truth is unexpectedly simple. It's all the lies that are so complicated. Granted, the truth is often incomprehensible, but it's the simplest things that are the most beyond us. It's the most concise that are the most grand. So God is good, and I am Christ's. Simple, yes, but I don't understand it. It doesn't make any sense to me. But I love it, and it's true.

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