Who am I?

Posted: May 14, 2013 in Deeper Things
Tags: , , , , ,

I am a singer. I am a teacher. I am a pastor. I am a writer.

Funny how when you are asked “who are you?”, we tend to default to “what I do”, instead of “who I am”. This has plagued my thinking for all my short life of thirty years, and I’ve added and subtracted so many “I am’s” that you could easily accuse me of having split personalities…with split personalities.

Is it so difficult to define ourselves? What simple tense or tenses of my life should include in my definition? Past? Present? Future? A combination of them all, or just any two? And even when I can answer those questions, what events justify the definition? Which feelings would contribute? Is it about events? Is it about perspective? Can a happy event make the cut? Should I include the sad ones too? Do the events count? Do my feelings count?

Is there a way to objectively define myself that cuts across all tenses, events, emotions, and perspectives?


Is there?

I normally default to what I see currently. Three years ago I wouldn’t have called myself a writer. I may not be a teacher next year. Who knows how long I will pastor for?! So over time, my list of “I am’s” has changed. So does that mean I’m different people at different times?

The questions can continue endlessly. And that’s what worries me. I’ve heard “it’s not what you do, but the qualities of your character that count”. That seemed to work. I would then say “I am patient. I am loving. I am inspiring”. It felt good……

……until somebody cut me off in traffic gave me no time to stop myself from bumping into his car. And I wasn’t driving a car I owned. He didn’t stop to check if everything was alright, or even to complain. So I helped him stop…. I got out of the car and threw a rock at his moving car and it smashed his rear window.

At that point my definition was “I am impatient. I am angry. Throwing a rock over 30 meters with enough force to smash a window of a moving car has ensured that I am frikkin’ inspiring!!!”

So am I unstable for being different in different moments? Or am I all of those “I am’s” wrapped into one? That would allow for an infinity of possibilities, but I won’t live long enough to experience them all will I?

At some point though, the definitions stop mattering, I believe, and you’ll settle into something consistent. Not a narrow kind of consistent, more like going from a universe of possibilities to a galaxy of possibilities. It’s definitely a smaller pool of options, but still large enough to keep you coming up with more “I am’s”.

Books, leaders, motivational speakers encourage us to “define yourself”. It’s such a big thing out there. And I hate it. Why would you try to limit your “I am’s” to a few self-chosen words that make you feel better about yourself? Words that aren’t crafted by experience, dreams, disappointments, decisions, and eventually death? Why would it be a “good thing” to short-circuit the natural flow of life and the changes it brings to you? It’s probably good for a CV, or a conversation, but on a personal introspective level…not enough. For me at least.

Maybe we just want to be stable. Maybe we think we can cheat the system. Or maybe we’re just lying to ourselves.

It would take eternity to have a definition that is perfect. But we don’t have eternity. We have these few short years on this planet.

Don’t worry about your Mighty Morphin’ Personality (that was an original, I am smart), just take each day as it comes. Hopefully your dreams and decisions are strong enough to keep you sane, but experiences are random, and will always add more flavour to your limited mind.

That’s a good thing.

You are… What you are! Nothing else…in that moment.

I am finished.


  1. T says:

    I AM THAT I AM. Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh – The Number 543 is a great study.

    Growing older, “I” realise and beleive that “I am” part of the whole, the greater good, and “I Am” (All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Mighty, Everlasting).

  2. theonewhocantbenamed says:

    Interesting. 🙂

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