A few weeks back, my wife Jackie and I were watching the US Open golf tournament. I don’t play golf very well, but I love to watch golf sometimes…mostly because it makes me feel like I’m on vacation because of all the grass, beaches, palm trees, and ponds that look like swimming pools. Anyway, we had actually been watching for about an hour, and had begun to witness what we had seen so many times before…Tiger Woods coming after playing poorly earlier in the week. At one point, I looked at Jackie and said, “It’s amazing how many times he’s done this. I mean, he has this uncanny ability to hit the right shots when it counts……Amazing!” We watched him once again come back all the way to the last hole where he was shooting to force a playoff the next day. We were both on the edge of our seats watching. Then, he sinks a 30 foot putt to force the playoff, and the crowd got absolutely nuts. We were both floored, and again I said, “It’s UNCANNY honey, he does this every time. I feel like I’ve seen him do this over and over again!” And then one moment later the coverage broke away to a still camera on an empty golf course with rain falling in the background, and a voice said, “And we’re back live during the rain delay at the 2009 US Open. We hope you enjoyed our coverage of the Tiger Woods comeback at the 2008 Open.” Yes, we were watching last year’s tournament, and yes, we did watch it together last yearL
There are so many questions about identity that this raises for me. First, is my identity, the sum of my experiences, my accomplishments, or even one major success or failure? If so, what does my experience with the US Open tell me about me? To what extent do other people impact who I am? If I make a foolish mistake in front of other people, does that make me a fool? Is the label I place on myself or the labels placed on me by others the sum total of who I am? If I’m Michael Jackson, is who I am “the king of pop?” If I’m Farrah Fawcet, is who I am the woman in the red bathing suit or the Angel who left before the first season was over? Is that who I am? Even though much of what I’ve experienced may or may not be true?
Identity is so important to us that we have an entire racket called “identity theft.” And just think of the last time you heard someone say, “who do you think you are anyway?” The fact is that your identity matters. It matters because it ultimately impacts what you do. So, consider four questions.
- Who are you? – Be honest, what labels do you put on yourself, both good and not so good? Just make a list of the top 10 labels you put on yourself and throw in a few that some trusted others put on you.
- What are you most afraid of losing? – In what ways does fear have a hold on your identity and charting the course for your life?
- Whose are you? – To whom do you belong? Who are you associated with? To what extent are you so concerned about what other people think that you have lost yourself?
- What label would God put on you? – If your Creator came up to you and whispered your name in your ear and said, “[insert your name], you are .” What would God say? If God said, you are acceptable, you are valuable, you are forgivable, you are loved, could you believe it? If you believed it, what difference could that make?