Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Mark 8:27-30 (NIV)
When I read this scripture it had me thinking…
Who do people say I am? Who do I say I am? Who do You say I am?
I set out to answer the first two questions and this is what surfaced…melancholy, not a naturally happy person, prone to depression, glass half-empty, realist/idealist, cynical, bitter, moody, emotional, analytical, up and down, flawed in my thinking, not good at public speaking, not a good friend, selfish, plays the victim.
Yeah, I know, not too positive, huh? This list was written after a somewhat challenging day but even still, has been a recurring theme in my life. Something I keep coming back to. These labels, these defining words never seem to go away. I just can’t seem to shake them. Why?
Are we predisposed to certain things…a way of thinking, personality traits, personality flaws?
Why are some people overly happy while other people overly sad?
Why are some people so mean spirited, while others are so kind?
The more and more I think about these questions and whether I am predisposed to being one way over the other, my initial answer is no, of course not….then after further thought my answer is yes….then after even more thought my answer is yes and no…it depends. Sadly, that is a true depiction of my thought processes on a variety of topics. Why can’t I just pick a side? Well…not everything is that simple…not everything is that black and white.
It’s easy to say I was born this way but I don’t know if I believe that. We are all born into this world the same way, naked and unashamed. But although that is true, the one major difference is the family and environments we are born into. This is where the gray area is. Haven’t you seen siblings or heard stories of siblings who grew up in the same household, afforded the same opportunities but yet they are like night and day. One is a hellion while the other is a picture of perfection. God has made us uniquely different so our perception of reality will be different. How things are perceived from one person to the next will inevitably vary. I believe this is by design. The intricacies of the human mind and human nature will leave you standing in awe – absolutely mind blowing and boggling all at the same time.
What am I trying to say here? We have been born into an imperfect world thanks to Adam and Eve. Our perceptions of life and how we cope and deal with things are formed at a very young age. Our coping mechanisms make it easier to deal with the hardships of life. Some choose to drink, some choose to laugh, some choose sarcasm or cynicism. Whatever your vice, it was what was taught to you or learned or innately developed to cushion the blow that life can sometimes throw at you. It’s to protect you. As children, our parents should provide that protection, they should shield us from the elements, the evils of the world. But what if they were unable or incapable of providing that? What if they were the ones you needed shielding from? Growing up you feel your parents are perfect. Even if you know and see the flaws there is still something deep down inside that wants to believe and paint them as superman or superwoman. But our parents are just as flawed and just as human as we are. I feel they did the best they could with what they were given but it boils down to “you don’t know, what you don’t know”. How do you know to do better if you don’t know what better is…you were never exposed to it. Your parents teach you, their parents taught them , and so on. A pattern develops…and unfortunately, so do generational curses.
Our identity, for a large part of our life, is what we see in our parents, other people and then painted by life’s experiences. It is only when we come into the true revelation of God that we are able to see clearly. We gain a different perspective because our identity is no longer limited to an imperfect person or an imperfect world but it is now framed by a perfect God. Who else to tell you who you are then the one who made you?
Now what? Since birth I’ve been “told” I’m one person and now you’re telling me, not so, that’s not who you are, your true identity is in Christ? And now I must deprogram and debug all these years of what I accepted as being me??? Kinda scary but yet exciting at the same time. Scary because it’s like, it took this long to finally come to terms with who I am, so how many more years will it take me to find me again? But even with that thought, it’s still exciting to think of exploring and embarking on a new journey and direction in life. Especially when the things you learned to accept about yourself aren’t the most flattering and have likely been that thing you were fighting or still trying to overcome. You can now say, I am not those things. I thought that was who I was but because now I know my identity is in Christ, those labels put on me are null and void and I am now on a mission to find out what God says about me.
There may be some resistance against this new revelation, both internal and external, but that is a natural reaction to change and something you will need to push past. I have a t-shirt that was given to me by a marine that says, “pain is weakness leaving the body”. In my pain, I am becoming stronger. In my discomfort, I am being stretched.
So I am going to end this the same way I started…Who do people say I am? Who do I say I am? Who do You say I am? Do not allow other people or even the perception you have of yourself define who you are. Make sure you find your true identity in Christ.
Be Bold, Be You, Be Blessed!