Identity Matters

Santa Clarita Signal • Ethically Speaking Column • For Sunday, March 22, 2015

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Identity Matters

David W. Hegg

 

The more years I log the more I understand the benefit of identifying myself in the right way. Years ago my good friend Judd Bonner casually mentioned to me “the older I get the more I become like who I am.” At the time I found it clever, witty, and worth a chuckle. Now I’ve come to consider it essential.

 

So, here’s the question, with apologies to The Who, “who are you?”

 

After my Seahawks lost the Super Bowl I had many well-meaning friends stopping by, texting or emailing me to see if I was all right. Apparently I had given them the idea that being a Seattle Seahawk fan was so far up my list of life identifiers that the loss would have a devastating effect on me.

 

No such thing. I have taken great satisfaction is setting the record straight. First and foremost I am a Christ-follower. Second through fourth, I am a husband, father, and grandfather. Fifth through eighth, I am a pastor, leader, neighbor, and friend. I would round out the top twenty identifiers of who I am with things ranging from writer and reader to musician, gardener, foodie, traveler, and several other things that are far more important to me than football.

 

But I really think we’ve hit on something here. Far too many people have no consistent worldview, no healthy relationships, and very little satisfaction in what they do either professionally or personally. I suspect that being a fan of a certain team, television series, musical group, or hobby actually becomes their top identifier. And the older they become, and the less the true essentials of life satisfy them, the more the essence of their lives becomes the championing of something that is – let’s face it – exceedingly nominal, even trivial.

 

Cherylyn and I recently travelled to New England Patriot country to speak at a large Marriage Conference. Over the 4 days I was subjected to several slams, jokes, and snickers. At the final session, they proudly presented me with an authentic Patriot jersey signed by Tom Brady. The whole room was cheering and laughing as I stood center stage trying to shape a response. Finally, I simply said “thanks for the jersey! Who wouldn’t a signed Tom Brady jersey? And, you guys were the better team, you won and you should take the year to be mighty proud of your team!”

 

And I meant it. Why? Because while cheering for a team is fun, it isn’t life. Life is about finding real meaning, purpose, satisfaction, and relationship in a way that transcends the everyday wins and loses. And for that you’ve got to rise above the petty discussions about things that don’t really matter in the long run. You’ve got to force yourself to find meaningful, supportable answers to the big questions of life. They include who am I? Where did I come from? What am I here for? Where am I going? There are more but you get the picture.

 

Those who refuse to find real answers wind up satisfied with counterfeit satisfaction. Of course they get mad when you point out the amount of emotion and energy they waste arguing over teams, politics, and even opinion columns, but that’s only because your insights hit their reality like an arrow.

 

Who we find ourselves to be makes all the difference. And the only true self-identification is that which aligns with the one who made us in the first place. God fashioned us as his image bearer, designed to find real meaning, purpose, satisfaction and relationship in obedience to his truth. When your life aligns with God, the older you get the more you’ll look forward to where you’re going.