An open letter to my family and loved ones: I regret to inform you that the man I married, your father/brother/brother-in-law/uncle/friend is not the man I thought him to be 36 years ago. Bob Jones (ha! I should have suspected even then…anyone could easily get lost in the system with a name like that!), the mildly irascible, small town college professor, has revealed his true identity. With an name unpronounceable to the human tongue, this long lost alien from another world (and, incidentally, good friends with Zaphod Beeblebrox), is none other than the amazing—
–who can turn all opponents daring to argue or debate with him into gibbering idiots. (No wonder I don’t fare well in marital spats…)
We are now taking suggestions for his new superhero costume. Nothing spandex, please.
Poor guy. This is what happens when you turn your wife loose on the internet. But actually, there’s a point to be made. We hear much about our “branding” (conjures up Wild West pictures of cattle with ranch tattoos burned into their hides), or “image”, like all those women walking around the Big Apple in stilettos since they’re told it’s cool to be a woman with long legs. (Yeah, with an inseam of 35 inches, let me tell what it’s r-e-a-l-l-y like.)
I posit here that, more important than brand or image, is the concept of “identity”. It goes beyond the fun of dressing up for comicon. Beyond (gr)avatars. Beyond the labels prominently displayed on shoes or purses or tee-shirts. True identity is who you are when you are alone. Or when the road bends in the distance and you can’t see what’s ahead. Or when all friends forsake you. I realize that also speaks of character qualities like integrity and resiliency and the like, but those are mere manifestations of the answer to the age-old question—
WHO AM I?
And yet the Creator of the Universe answered this question for us before we barely got a chance to ask it. He says of Himself—
I AM WHO I AM. *
The point I hope to make is that if He did honestly create me, and if He is so secure in Who He is, then He is very much watching over who He is making me to be. And that includes the whole picture, past, present, and future. Which means I can stop worrying so much about defining and branding and imaging myself, and allow Him to create His image in me, as portrayed through my personality and talents, and (dare I say it?) through my weakness, idiosyncrasies, and failures.
Of course, this doesn’t preclude investigation, discovery, and work on my part. Development of what He’s put in my hand is, in part, my responsibility. But it should open up a whole new way of thinking about outcomes and redefine what “success” really means…from an eternal perspective.
And it’s much more than a star-spangled suit of spandex. (Thankfully…)
- Ezekiel 3:14