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Identity Starts With "I"

I believe that individual and family well-being starts with the concept of “I.” Introspection. Looking inward. Peeling back the layers of the onion and getting to the truth about who we are and why we were created. Having a sense of identity helps us uncover our strengths, weaknesses, gifts and passions. It also undergirds our decisions and dictates our behaviors. So, having a healthy identity should be important to us. For this reason, I encourage you to take some time to explore the concepts of identity and purpose. My goal is to use the insights gained through exploration of identity and purpose to grow and ultimately impact the lives of individuals and families. Because whole people help foster strong families.

Everyone, at some point in their lives, asks the age-old questions: “Who am I?” and “What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” To complicate matters, throughout life we hear misguided messages of oneness and belonging that often disregard the uniqueness of our identities; thus, perpetuating an inauthentic need to “fit in.” We even learn as young professionals entering the workforce that there’s no ‘I’ in TEAM. But is that true? Aren’t there lots of “I’s” that make up a team? How, then, do we balance the concept of unity with the constructs of identity? While I may not be able to answer all of the existential questions you may have about your life, I’d like to start by submitting this to you:

Your identity is the data that helps you determine how to navigate your life and ultimately live the beautiful life you were intended to live, even in the midst of adversity.

In other words, when you have a clear understanding of who you are and what your purpose is, you are better equipped to make courageous and meaningful life decisions that lead you to a place of peace and wholeness. If, however, we choose not to acknowledge our individuality, then we set ourselves up for disappointment. Likewise, when we don’t know who we are, we tend to make decisions and form relationships that can be destructive.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14

The concept of identity, though complex as a result of all the things it encompasses, can be understood by using a pretty simple definition. Identity is defined as having a clear picture of self – one’s personality and purpose for living. For the purposes of this article, this is the definition we will consider as we further explore these concepts.

Have you ever considered the fact that growing in the knowledge of self is actually a spiritual journey? I believe some of you reading this would instantly agree. But, some of you may not be convinced. Well, consider this: as we seek our authentic selves, we learn that we have to reach deeper than other people’s thoughts or perceptions, our possessions and even our own accomplishments. As unfortunate as it may be to those of us who eagerly travel the intentional road to self-discovery, we are socialized from birth to believe that our identities are revealed through tangible things. We are tempted to believe that we are our educational, financial or marital statuses. We define ourselves by the roles we play in society, our sexual orientation, our religious beliefs and our traditions. If that’s you, I’m sorry to have to tell you… those things may be part of who you are, but they do not define you.

As we start to explore self, we often begin with our thoughts, our motives, our likes and dislikes, our behaviors or our beliefs. Along that path, if we travel it long enough, we are ultimately led to our Creator – God. As such, we begin to realize just how small (but significant) we are in the grand scheme of life. We begin to recognize that we are spiritual beings living in a physical body. So, we must understand that our spiritual self is just as important, if not more important, than our physical needs. Hard fact to some, but true.

It is within our spirit that our true identity is realized. It is a gift given to each of us, just as uniquely and as carefully crafted as our fingerprints. Not one of us is the same. So, we will either make decisions in our lives by responding to the physical – what we see; or we will make decisions by responding to the spiritual – what we believe to be true, even if we don’t see it. Until next time, be encouraged to increase your self-awareness in hopes of improving your overall well-being.

Peace & Blessings!

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