Who Am I?



This is the central question of my long life, one I must ask myself every day. It is a question buried deeply in my soul, and it is the call of God to each and every one of us. No matter what limits we live with—and all of us have limits of one kind or another—each of us has a unique place in the fabric of humanity. Our primary task in life is to find that place and fill it as fully and heartily as we can.

This question is both personal and universal, and the answer can only be found in the unique context in which we live. Finding an answer to who we are requires a deep and growing understanding of where we are. That context can—and should—change over time. The trappings and boundaries of our life will change from stage to stage. But the central question stays the same, and so does the answer.

Brennan Manning wrote:

Do you believe that the God of Jesus loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity—that he loves you in the morning sun and in the evening rain—that he loves you when your intellect denies it, your emotions refuse it, your whole being rejects it. Do you believe that God loves without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are and not as you should be.  (All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir)

Do you believe this? Do you cling to it, trust in it, allow it to form and re-form you? Hard as it is for us to fathom, every single one of us is the apple of God’s eye, the one over whom the great God of the Universe sings a song of love and delight. This is the through-line of our scripture, the nitty-gritty of the Jesus-Good-News, the powerful, ongoing labor of the Holy Spirit within us: we are loved.

Fred Buechner famously asked: Do you know where your deep gladness is? What is it that makes your heart sing, that feels right, way down deep inside you? How do your own gifts and strengths converge to both bring you joy and the world in which you live good? As Buechner put it, where do “your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet?”

I love working with other people, reflecting on the word of God, thinking creatively about life and faith, and learning how to help others be their best selves as I work through that same process myself. And those core things about me have shown up through all these years of living, looking slightly different depending on a variety of factors that are age- and stage-related. When I was home with young children, those three little people were the primary place where my deep gladness met the world’s hunger—in this case, the “world” was decidedly limited!

As they grew, my focus shifted outward, to church and community. I worked in women’s ministries, community fund-raising, and worship planning as a volunteer. When my kids fledged—leaving the nest completely—the “world” became seminary and the parish of my local church. After seminary, and a geographical move, my parish changed, the gifts grew and deepened, and the “world” expanded a bit. Now, in retirement, those core truths that define who I am are focused on individuals in spiritual direction and a whole host of unseen friends on the internet, in addition to my aged mother, my husband, kids and grandkids.

The context changed, but the answer to the question never really has. There are definitely some things about me that have changed with time and maturity. The deepest ones are my increased need for solitude and silence and a growing openness to new ways in which the Spirit of God is at work in the world and in the church. Yet each of those changes has served to enrich the core, not fundamentally change it.

Who I am is a woman loved by God and created to communicate, create, encourage and nurture. Who are you? Do you know yourself to be loved, first, last and always? Do you know what brings you gladness? Do you have ideas about how to bring that gladness to a place of deep hunger in your world? Share with us in the comments! Let’s dream together about making 2016 the year of self-discovery.