With the research I’m doing for my book on forgetfulness and remembering in faith, I’m thinking a lot about identity.
About remembering who we are.
Who am I? A question that has perplexed and entertained many – how do we answer it? Do we give as answers our names, our family, our birthplaces, our occupations (very popular one, that), our hobbies, our gender, our personalities, our preferences?
(I think we need to move away from defining ourselves by occupation and asking ‘what do you do?’ as the first thing we say to people. It’s very hard for those who are struggling with poor health or unemployment for whatever reason.)
Most of things I use to define myself hinge on others – other people, other things, other places.
I suppose I usually describe myself by telling someone my name and my occupation – for this I usually say writer and minister’s wife. Sometimes I feel the need to clarify myself – I live like this because my energy is lower than the norm. If there’s a point of commonality, that’s where we’ll talk, you and I – youngest child? Me too! Oh, so you’re also a country girl?
We hang our lives on a series of reference points – some interweaving and overlapping, some unique and surprising – gosh, I’d never have guessed that about her!
For me, I remind myself that my identity is founded in being made in God’s image, redeemed by his action in Jesus Christ and counselled by the Spirit. Without that, all the other reference points start flapping about all over the place, unhinged.