Let's Get Psyched: Celebrating "I Am"
by Randy Kiel | August 16, 2020
What a wonderful Eucharistic expression! Jesus was broken for us, so that we may know more fully who we are through him and his brokenness.
We can only learn our true and full identity through Christ. “Identity” has become a fragile, yet significant word in today’s climate. While at times it is met with much tension, it is in need of abundant discourse.
For multiple reasons, this is positive, but change is quite complicated. When it comes to the matter of personal identity, it is wise to use caution when asking the question, “Who am I?” -as if we ourselves hold the answer.
If we search for this answer only from within, it can become one of those rabbit holes we have so often trailblazed, searching for that invisible little critter that is never found.
When we see our identity as a static snapshot from a certain time in life, then we are likely headed for trouble.
Our identity is more like movie film. As with God ‘s ways and timing to reveal himself to us, so the human experience continues to reveal life for us and who we are; we do not define our identity.
St Francis of Assisi said, “I am who I am becoming in the eyes of God, nothing more, nothing less.” God sees who we are and who we are becoming.
While many have tried to define what God is, he himself is the only one who defines who he is. He is always to be known as “I Am.”
If we do not know who we are through him in this way, but attempt to define ourselves, then we could be headed toward that dreaded term called narcissism. “Oh, look at me! Look who I am!” Yikes! Perhaps we have heard statements such as “Oh, that person is so narcissistic!” or “Well you know, we all have a little bit of narcissism inside.”
Let’s be careful with this term. It does identify a psychological personality disorder, but so rarely is it used correctly, let alone kindly. It is not meant to be used casually and is more often a judgmental statement of cruelty.
Let’s go back to that rabbit hole. If a person searches to define their identity by their own sense of importance and/or prominence, then they could be headed to dethrone the very deity of God himself as the great I Am. Scripture is quite clear that it is not wise to try to dethrone the creator of the universe. Of course, we can see what or, should I say “who” is lacking in this wisdom. Narcissism itself strives to be the center of its own universe, not offering the self over for praiseworthy acts but seeks the worthiness of others’ praise.
When we search for our identity through the world’s wisdom or riches, Christ tells us that this is actually when we become lost. “He who finds his life will lose it but he who loses his life for Christ’s sake will find it” (Mt. 10:39).
Jesus was teaching a lesson in spiritual living that took psychology a couple of centuries to identify, narcissism. If we look at narcissism through the eyes of science only, our sight of recovery will be limited. When seeing it through the lens of Jesus, we will see hope. The I Am always tells us who we are. He is the author of life and death. Through humility we find him; through humility we find ourselves.
We are admonished to not falsely represent ourselves through deeds or the presentation of who we are. It is known that this commandment is intended to guard against overt lying and perjury, but a grandiose sense of self-importance or even a debased sense of self through false piety might be a covert form of identity deception, a false witness. Have you ever met this person? Have you ever been this person? They are either so high on their own pedestal that they are untouchable and unbeatable at everything or they are so low that nobody could ever lift them up. By contrast, we surely have met many “real” people as well. People who know who they are in Christ. This is a prayerful matter for us all to consider.
Let’s do some self-reflection now. Have I been defining myself through worldly standards and measures? Am I aware of where Christ may increase, and I might decrease? How long has it been since I have swallowed my pride rather than choking from it?
Who am I? The answer to this question is neither from trend, group think, cultural response, nor any form of self-proclamation. It is not a cognitive decision to become a person, but rather it is a spiritual matter.
We are sons and daughters of the great I Am. Great, not because God is measured as the greatest on any earthly scale, but great because he is the one and only creator. Today, may we all say a word of gratitude in our prayers for giving us such a humbled understanding of who we are through Christ.
“Thank you, Lord, for making me, me!”