So Who Do You Think You Are?
by Erica Green
So Who Do You Think You Are? - Mid life crisis encounters with the Kingdom of God
There are a couple of significant times in one's life when one gives serious consideration to the time honoured practice of 'navel gazing' (self contemplation). Through the storming of teenage years; this exercise is an attempt to establish who it is that you want to be. Come midlife crisis and you start to look back and ask "Who have I become?" and then add to that the even scarier question, "Do I like who I have become?"
Given my vintage, I guess that I should probably leave the aspirational approach for those for whom it is not too late. Roll on mid life crisis! Being a bit of a control freak, I think that it is high time that I started getting in some serious planning for mine and I am very much open to advice on this part of my life's journey. I have made enquiries of friends and family members, but they are no help at all, saying that by definition if you plan it, it is not a crisis. But as far as I am concerned, if I can't plan it, then I shan't have one.
Provided this exercise in introspection does not morph into the extremes of self obsession, the process of understanding ones identity can be a useful thing. Our sense of identity dramatically impacts the way that we view the world and how we interact with it. What we do, flows from who we believe we are.
So who do you think you are?
- I am the product of my past experiences and decisions. Cast your mind back over your life and I am sure that you will see pivotal points that have shaped the values that you hold and the way that you behave in certain circumstances.
- I am what I do. I am the summation of the roles that I fulfill. "And what is it that you do?" This is the first question that we ask when we meet someone new, because you can tell so much about a person from their choice of profession. No wonder men think that women are complex creatures, and we are, we multi task at so many different roles.
- I have value through my achievements or because of the way that I look. Where does this leave you when the inevitability of age catches up with you? Great fodder for a serious mid or later life crisis.
- I am defined by how I am perceived by others. This is a pretty scary one but it can be significant for many people. How far will you go for the approval of others or for the avoidance of their disapproval for that matter?
- I am identified by my possessions. Possessions are an extension of our personality. For example the car that you drive says a lot about who you are. There is a reason why men of status buy expensive watches; after all, they can't park their car next to their desk at work.
Whilst ever we live on this earth some of these statements will be true for us. However, as Christians, we are citizens of another world/kingdom. "For he has rescued us ... and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves." (Colossians 1:13 NIV) We are part of God's Kingdom, now, even though we don't yet possess the territory.
As usual the Kingdom of God turns this world's values upside down. What impact does our citizenship of this Kingdom have on our identity?
- I am not only a product of my past experiences but rather, I am the product of what God has done for me and His continued activity within me. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV)
- I have value because of whose I am, not because of the functions that I fulfil. "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:15-17, NIV) It is not so much, "I am what I do" but rather what I do is because of who I am.
- Eclipsing any merit that my own accomplishments may bring, I have infinite intrinsic value, designed and created into me by God. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. ... God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. ..." (Genesis 1:27-31)
- I am not so much defined by how I am perceived by others but rather by how I am perceived by God. "... The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV) "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1, NIV)
- I am not so much identified by my possessions, but rather by how I use my possessions for the good of others. "... 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' ... 'whatever you did not do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me.'" (Matthew 25:40, 45, NIV)
So we have done the looking back thing, but maybe the teenagers have got it right all along and it is always the right time to look forward to who we want to be. Perhaps the big mid life question is not so much 'Who am I and do I like what I have become', but rather, 'Who is God, and do I like what He is doing in me.' "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)
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