I remember sitting down with two really good friends of mine in a cafe in Reston, Virginia, a few months before Maile and I made the decision to move back to Pennsylvania with our four kids and into my parent’s basement. These two friends of mine were talking me through some difficult stuff – these were the days when life seemed like a trap, with no way out of the downward financial and emotional spiral I found myself in – and one of them asked me something that seemed so basic, yet so unanswerable:
“So who are you?”
Talk about turning a corner to find a Mack truck bearing down on you. I stared at the table and blinked a few times. I had no idea. But the more we spoke, the more I realized that my the answer to that question, the answer to my identity, was very much rooted in my desire to write, and to read, and to help others tell their stories.
I still didn’t get it though. I still didn’t get just how important it was that I start this process of discovering my identity, or what kind of an impact it could have on my relatively brief existence on this earth.
One of those two friends, Jon, could tell I wasn’t getting it. We had the following conversation (this isn’t word for word, so apologies Jon if I’m misquoting you, but this is the general direction we went):
“What about David?” he asked me. “You know, David and Goliath?”
I shrugged. “What about him?”
“What do you think about his decision to fight Goliath?”
“Well, it was pretty brave wasn’t it, heading out there to fight that older, seasoned, Andre-the-giant sized soldier?”
“I guess it took some courage,” Jon said, “but I don’t think David was worried at all.”
“Really? I’ve always thought it was one of the bravest stories in the Bible. This little shepherd boy goes up against a giant with a sling and some stones!”
“Think about it, though,” Jon continued. “In the chapter leading up to David’s fight against Goliath, the prophet Samuel told him he would be king. God had basically promised David that he would be king.”
He stopped and let those words sink in.
“David knew his identity,” Jon said, quietly, “and because he knew that, he also knew that he had nothing to fear, because there was nothing that that giant or anyone in the world could do to stop him fulfilling his God-given mission and purpose and identity of being Israel’s next king.”
I remember wishing, more than anything, that I could know what my identity was. My mission.
“If you can figure out your identity,” Jon said. “It might just give you the courage you need to make some difficult decisions, to do what you need to do, to go in the direction you need to go.”
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