I am incredibly honored that my friend Aaron is sharing his words here. He has an amazing story, one I think we all grapple with to some extent.
But I’ll let him tell you in his words.
I often wonder who I am.
There are too many voices in my heart and in my head trying to tell me what it is to be me. Some are shouting “You are meaningful because of the work you do, what you accomplish, what you spend your time doing.” Other voices tell me to be better at family, be a better husband and father, then I will discover the meaning of my life. Still other voices tell me to chase my dreams, to be a quirky kind of life that others can only dream of being.
The cacophony of these voices leaves me wondering who I really am.
My identity is something I am always insecure about. This insecurity has dogged me more and more the older I have gotten. I worry about not fitting in, about not really having a place to define me. I worry about what kind of man other people see me as. I spend hours working the personality tests and reading about what they tell me about myself, trying to unlock some secret door that will let me understand who the hell I really am.
As if I didn’t have enough existential angst about this whole thing, I now have to listen to the well-meaning church try and tell me who I am in Christ, as if that was so black and white. I’m not saying I’m not a child of God, but what does that even mean? Especially on days where I’m grumpy, pissy, and generally a horrible person to be around. What does it mean to be loved by God when there are days I can’t love myself? How am I supposed to be a disciple when I can just barley hold on to hope for weeks at a time? I don’t know what it means to be myself, let alone some mystical “who I am in Christ.”
And what about my mental illness? How much of that is me and how much is my disease? Do I struggle with depression, or am I depressed? Am I bi-polar, or is that just the label for my condition? How much of my illness is really just character flaws and shitty excuses?
Am I a husband? Am I a father? Am I a believer? Am I a crazy person?
These are the voices and the thoughts that haunt me. They chip away at my self-worth, self-confidence, and even my sense of self till all I am left with is a husk that is so unsure about my identity I scramble to emulate anything that people seem to like. Why can’t I be a bearded tattooed rugged man? Why can’t I be a professor academic type? Why can’t I be…
Why can’t I be?
Into this chaos, a small statement sheds truth. I am; you are.
The name of God, and the pronouncement that I simply exist. The reality that I am here, and that God exists with me. The truth that eludes me just is.
I am. You are.
Sometimes life isn’t about world shattering meaning and life altering definitions. Sometimes it’s not about declaring myself a writer, a dreamer, a believer. Sometimes it’s about simply being here, being now, and realizing that you are existing as you are. Full of flaws, full of unfinished stories of fatherhood and married life. Full of methodical days and bursts of joy. Everything that I am bound up into a little human shaped ball and simply allowed to be. No definitions other than what I happen to be in the moment. No pronouncement of identity other than the fact that I exist, I find this breath in Christ, and that I get to be whomever and whatever I want to be.
My struggles with identity, self-worth, and feeling adequate as myself can never change the reality that life, my life, continues to move on and that I get to live it. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” No one, no voice, no doubt can steal that away from me.
And so what if I don’t know who I am in Christ yet! I’m discovering new things about myself every day. I’m finding how to be a better father, a better husband, a better believer and dreamer. This self-discovery is part of my verse, part of my story, part of the identity I am building for myself. I don’t have to have my personhood all figured out in a nice little bow. I get to be messy, rough around the edges, doubtful, and unsure because I am still growing, still discovering.
I don’t have to answer “Who are you?” except to say let’s wait and see.
; Husband, father, believer, writer, nerd, coffee chugger. Just a typical Jesus obsessed, question everything, bipolar, poet-punk.