By now, you’ve probably found most of your classes…
Like a well-seasoned veteran, you’ve entered all test dates into your planner…
For those privileged few, you’re gearing up for the start of Husker Football…
It’s coming at you from all sides: College is now a reality of life until Christmas!
Walk onto any campus, and you’ll see students wearing school emblems and colors. New pledge classes roam around in packs. You’re in the thick of it!
The college years are full of adventure. Many of us are found searching. For what? You name it! Classes, time, money, friends…and, ultimately, identity.
As you begin this year, I propose to you this thought. In chapter 16 of Matthew’s Gospel, there is a simple yet profound question that Jesus asks Peter:
“Who do you say that I am?”
Thinking about that question in relation to ourselves, we can get the answer in two different ways.
One: We can get this answer from those around us by asking our friends.
I can remember when I was offered a bid for my fraternity. I was more than excited. I was STOKED! These guys had recruited me for the past couple of months and were with me as I signed my bid card, at all of those lake parties and trips to get wings. These were the men whom I would eventually call “brother.” Coming from a family of all girls, this time would prove to have a huge impact in my life. I would find an identity with them, of sorts, that would shape a good part of my life.
I looked to my brothers to help me decide what classes to take, where to go for spring break, what parties would be the best. I relied on them for what seemed like everything. Slowly and steadily, my own identity would be rooted in their identity — in what the group would see as successful and important.
It’s kind of an interesting take on life, placing your identity into things, ideas or events. I’ll be the first to admit that this was a struggle then and, at times, it can still be a struggle. I can base my identity on how successful I am or how I dress, and I can place my identity in the hands of others’ opinions.
Two: We can get this answer from Jesus by asking Him.
What if, instead of looking to others for your identity, we placed our identity in Christ?
What would change? How would we see the world? How might it influence our daily choices?
It seems like a daunting truth to consider that we may not be living truly as we were meant to be living and for the purpose which we were created.
When we look in the mirror, who do we see? What are the characteristics that we notice and can voice? Are they positive thoughts about how “beautifully and wonderfully made” we are? Or are they something different? Maybe it’s a certain memory that’s painful. Maybe it’s a lie that you’re believing about yourself or that you’ve been told.
But what — or more accurately, who — does God see?
Here are two HUGE secrets:
- The Lord see us with a fatherly heart and speaks to us with a voice of tenderness. No matter how broken or disheveled (or whatever adjective you want to insert) we may be, He sees us. ALL of us!
- Nothing about what He sees brings Him disgust!
THIS. IS. HUUUUUGE.
So often we allow our sins or our past to define our identities and hold us prisoner. But listen to the words of Pope St. John Paul II:
“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son…”
Repeat that to yourself. Let it soak in and coat your very being!
What an incredible antidote! What freedom! We can become the image of his Son! We can have an identity that is rooted in Christ!
You might be saying, “Right, Adam. If only you knew what I struggle with daily…or this…or that….”
When I was writing this post, I encountered a ton of memories from my past that left me feeling regret and shame. I remember the times that I gave permission to the world to give me my identity, rather than hearing the voice of the Father say my name.
Join me in simply considering two things:
- Dust off the Bible and go to Mark 1:11. Allow that voice to pass over the landscape of your heart and memories. What thoughts, feelings or desires come up? Will you allow Him to speak your name and to give you your identity?
- What are you in love with? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What captures your attention and imagination? In the words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, “What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything” (emphasis added). He goes on to say, “Fall in love. Stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
As this year begins, I challenge you to give God just a little bit more permission today than you did yesterday. Give Him your “yes,” no matter how scary it is. Have the courage to ask Him the question: “Who do you say that I am?”