Who Am I?
By Cec Murphey
I wonder how many times during my life I’ve pondered, “Who am I?” I first asked when I was 21 and in searching for the answer, I met God and my life changed.
That’s when I realized that my life had meaning and I had purpose. But occasionally, the question arises again. Who am I? Isn’t that the struggle most of us have all through life? We wonder if we’ll ever figure it out. (We won’t.)
Many times I’ve turned to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s poem in which he agonized over his identity while he was in a Nazi prison. He wrestled with whether he was a hypocrite— pretending to be a stalwart believer while trembling inside— or if he was truly the heroic Christian his guards observed. Here are his closing words:
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine.
Like most people, I’ve changed identities many times in relationships. I was Sam and Annie’s boy or Ray’s kid brother. I’ve named myself through my occupation. At various times I’ve been a public school teacher, a missionary, a pastor, a professional writer, and a public speaker. Or I could refer to being a husband, father, grandfather, and now a great-grandfather.
None of those categories fully define me. But perhaps the intensity of the query isn’t to give myself a satisfying answer. Maybe searching for an answer keeps me self-examining, which is another way to speak of growing.
Bonhoeffer’s words bring me peace because God accepts me as I am. Yet the lurking uncertainty has a positive effect. As I define myself, I can use that as a starting place to make life adjustments. I don’t have to remain who I was or who I am today.
Perhaps that’s why this issue continues to jump into my life. It’s not only to embrace who I am, but also to make me aware that who I am right now is no longer whom I want to remain.
Maybe the better question is, “Who am I becoming?”