On Identity

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my identity.

What are my roles and priorities?

From whom (or what) do I seek approval?

Sure, I’m a son to 2 parents and a brother to 4 siblings, someone who enjoys reading, traveling, lifting weights, and programming. 📚✈️🏋️‍♂️💻

But these are superficial answers to a deeply important question.

Who actually am I?

If you ask me what my priorities are, I would quickly list them in this order: God, my wife, my son, and my work.

But what does the way I spend my time say about my priorities? I spend most of my time focused on work, followed by my son, my wife, and finally God. My time is spent exactly opposite to the priorities I claim to have.

In thinking through this, I believe I’ve been approaching it all wrong. These are not mutually exclusive roles. There’s no need to complete one before starting another.

I can be a disciple of Jesus at work by being honest and reliable. Working is part of being a husband and father because it is an opportunity to provide for my family and set an example of how to submit to and respect those I work with.

Life is not about completing your daily chores so you can get to the “meaningful stuff.” We must decide who we are and then live from that foundation.

So who am I, really?

I am a child of God. Saved by grace and getting to know the author of life.

I am a husband. Learning to serve and cherish my wife because God has given her to be my helper and companion.

I am a father. Striving to love and guide my son.

I am a worker. Committed to earn my pay honestly and encourage and motivate those I work with.

I fail at all of these on a regular basis. I find myself chasing work, money, or the approval of others often. 😞

But I’m learning each and every day. My heart is being shaped and refined.

And I’m excited to be on this journey.

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Tony April 2, 2019 Reply

Hypothetical question: what do we do when disaster strikes? Can you hold on to your existing train of thought or do you need to start again? For example if you lost both legs in a road accident – your travelling and weight lifting regimes would require extensive modification. You might lose all motivation and enjoyment of these activities. How would that affect you when the pleasures of this world are taken away? How would you react if you lost one or more of the five senses which define your humanity (not your soul)? Suppose you went blind or deaf. Imagine going through the remainder of your life without a sense of taste. Any of these things contaminates your inner world and disrupts your interactions with others. Would disasters like these leave you still excited to be on the journey? Maybe the journey would be even more challenging and exciting. God remains the first priority but, after disaster strikes, do we have to start again and rediscover that, or just carry on as before? Perhaps these questions are too hypothetical to be of any value. Best wishes,

Graham Swan April 3, 2019 Reply

An excellent question! I think the scenarios you suggest point to the extreme importance of where we place our identity.

If our identity is in work, money, status, family, friends, or objects, those can easily be taken away. Jobs are lost, money is spent, status evaporates, people die, relationships fizzle, and so on.

It’s difficult to imagine life without a sense or body part, but I know it would be a major adjustment. I think I would probably be sad, frustrated, angry, confused, and perhaps feel a bit hopeless if disaster struck. But I do trust that God is in control and that nothing that happens to me catches him by surprise.

If I end up in one of the situations you mentioned and am turning into a bitter and hopeless individual, please do point me to this post. 😅

Lance Weisser April 1, 2019 Reply

Thanks for sharing, Graham!
I appreciate your perspective of being integrated as a person across those different archetypes and activities we dip in and out of on a daily basis. Holding the tension of being creative producers of value and sustenance through the work of our hands, raising our children to pursue purity of heart as Fathers, loving and giving our lives to our wives as Husbands, and honoring our parents as Sons. Worthy things to aspire to for sure!

Graham Swan April 3, 2019 Reply

Worthy things and impossible things, right? 😅 I do feel blessed for beginning to have the desire to pursue such roles, though. It makes me wonder what else I’m currently blind to… 🤔

Hope you guys are doing well, Lance!

JUST BE :) April 1, 2019 Reply

Don’t judge yourself about chasing money, thats part of life, we make some sacrifeces for it and its okay. We sometimes look for others approval when we don’t aprove ourselves in someways, maybe its related to the judgments you do. Maybe its like “i don’t aprove to live for the money but i need you to tell me its ok”.
Be happy of who you are and greatfull for the experiences that are helping u learn how to be a better person and you are taking those chances.
All the best 🙂

Graham Swan April 3, 2019 Reply

I don’t think chasing money is okay just because others do it. I think it’s important to consider where we seek fulfillment. Is it in something that can be taken away or destroyed? If so, that can be shaky ground.

I appreciate your thoughts and positivity here. 😊

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