Identity Defines Choices
I once believed that I could compartmentalize my life. I could have a work life, a family life, a hobby life, and a spiritual life. I imagined that I could construct flexible walls between all of these parts of who I am and somehow operate independently in each. But I discovered that everywhere I went, I was still a husband and a dad. I couldn’t stop thinking about those relationships and my decisions reflected those allegiances. I thought I could not be a pastor and could just pursue my hobbies or my errands and step out of that role. But I discovered that I was always thinking like a pastor, living like a pastor (in the best sense).
One day in Walmart I came to this realization and relief: I am who I am wherever I go, whatever I’m doing. That’s what we call an “integrated life.” I always belong to Kelly, my sons, and most of all, I always belong to Jesus. I possess no “on/off” switch for any of these identities.
Does your identity as a Jesus-follower enjoy that kind of integration in your life? I have a few friends who try to separate the parts of their lives from their faith and they wind up making choices that create incredible damage. They damage their relationships, their witness, and their own confidence. They wear the masks that Jesus talked about when He called out “hypocrites,” a term from theater that meant “those who wear a mask.” Integration is a relief. I hear “Popeye” in my head–“I am what I am!” Or maybe it’s God that I hear in my head, “I am who I am.”
When I was younger, my parents taught me a life principle. “The truth is always consistent. You tell the truth and the story is always the same.” And I would offer to you a similar principle: “Live the truth about your identity in Jesus and He will shape ALL of your roles, choices, and tasks, and you will find great relief.” Whether we realize it or not, our identity defines our choices, and for those looking upon our lives, our choices define our REAL identity.
So who are you, really?