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How to Find Your Identity
A recent debate on name changes, featured on the Today Show (article found here http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id45137510 ) brings up the important question, where does our identity come from?
Viewers watching the fired up panel of women defend their right to keep their maiden name after marriage, can’t help but notice a passion for individuality that extends far beyond the debate of maiden versus married last names. These women, along with thousands of others, are fighting not just for their names, but their identity. As a Christian, no one understands the value of a name more. Jesus changed the names of numerous people to; define who they were and who He wanted them to be. However, the Bible does not say that a woman must change her name once she gets married. Still, many traditionalists pass judgment on these feminist maidens for the same reason these maiden-name-keepers choose to keep their names, identity.
If we have any hope of understanding the other side, we must gain the knowledge which will allow us to do so. In this case, we must learn where our identity comes from. The word identity is believed to be drawn from the latin word identidem, a contraction of idem et idem, literally, same and same (Webster Mirriam Dictionary). Oddly enough, identity is the condition of being the same with something described or asserted, as well as the very thing that distinguishes you and sets you apart from everything else. It can be real or imagined, but for most of us it is defined by a psychological association with the people or things we like or want to be like. For one man, (Counselor of the gifted, Andrew S. Mahoney http://www.counselingthegifted.com/) identity is merely a “tool of your expression not who you are.”
To find your identity, ask yourself, what could be taken away from me that would make me question who I am? Is it your job, your financial status, your marriage, your kids, or your looks? As an air force wife whose only constant is change, I ask myself these questions all the time. Every new move leads to new questions about who I am, who my friends are, what I will do, where I will work. If everything else changes, do I?
Many Americans who thought they were secure in who they are feel as lost as their jobs, homes, and financial security. Women who felt confident in the simple fact that they are women, begin to question their very gender as cancer ravages their breast stealing their gender identity from the cleavage where it hides. Widows, once married, struggle to separate the “I” ripped from “we” as their spouses were ripped from their lives. Everyone has an identity, what is yours?
Our identities are multi-faceted. They are defined by our roles; the loving mother or father, the homeschooled or homeschooler, the working man or woman, the boss or employee, the husband or wife, the parent or child, the married, single, or divorced. Identities are also defined by where we come from; down south or up north, eastern or western, native or alien. They are shaped by our history; rich or poor, loved or hated, educated or ignorant, supported or neglected. We can also decipher them by how/what we judge other people by. If you judge other people for their religion or political party, you probably identify with those things, making them a part of who you are. These things become a part of your identity.
In an ever changing world, no sooner than you find your identity it may be lost, threatened, or stolen. Whether your identity lies in your role, your history, or your name you need not worry because you are more than the sum of all of these. As Shakespeare said through Juliet, "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet!" The greater question is not who you are, but whose are you? The answer to that question will define your role, your name, and your future.
Whose am I? I am God's child. My identity is in Him. As long as I belong to an unchanging God, my identity is secure. No matter how I change, He won't. He Is, therefore I am.