Who Am I?
It’s our least favorite question in a job interview. It’s one that keeps us up at night. It’s a question that we really should be able to answer easily, yet it’s harder than it should be. It’s a question that affects our most important life decisions. And you might have spent your whole life looking for the answer. Who am I and why am I here? What is my purpose?
As a twenty-something, I’m right there with you. But I’ve also talked to people twice my age who are still asking the same question. Why is this a mystery that follows us until we solve it? I wonder all the time – why is it so hard to explain who I am? What are the things that make me . . . me?
Answers to the Question “Who Am I?”
Describing other people is easy. Today my roommate was talking about someone named Sarah, and I asked her who that was. My roommate told me that Sarah was a neighbor’s aunt’s friend-in-law or something . . . it was a long explanation, but it revolved around relatives and relationships. Okay, that tells me whom Sarah is related to, but I still have no sense of who Sarah is as a person.
Another common answer to the question “Who am I?” is to explain your profession.
You might describe yourself as a florist, a student, or an insurance agent, depending on what you do for a living. But once again, these questions don’t get to the heart of this question. There are many people in the world who are florists. Of course they’re not all the same person!
Isn’t it interesting, though, that these are our instinctive go-to responses? When asked about our identity, we tend to describe our relationships and what we do. Even though these answers tell little about our personality or passions, there’s a reason why they are so common.
What Makes Me Who I Am?
The truth is that your identity depends a lot on whom you’re related to and what you do. But this goes far deeper than your familial bloodline and your career. Those responses speak to something that’s hard-wired into each of us: the need to belong and to have a purpose.
Let’s look at a non-human object to illustrate what makes up who you are.
What if you were to ask this question to your phone? I just asked my phone, “Who are you?” Its response was a lot like ours. “I’m Siri,” she said. “But enough about me. How can I help you?” Siri stated her purpose – to help others.
Where could I find more information about what my phone really is? All I know is its purpose – and only a little bit about that. Well, I could talk to Steve Jobs, the person who designed my iPhone 6 (don’t judge me). He would explain that the iPhone is his creation and that it is one of a series of iPhones and other Apple products. In other words, he would explain where my iPhone sits in relationship to its creator and the other created products like it. Jobs would also have a lot more information to offer when it comes to the iPhone’s purpose.
Okay, so this example tells us a few things.
First, talking to the designer of something helps us to understand that thing’s identity. But aren’t humans more intricate than iPhones? Surely our identity is not only based on our relationships and our purpose. And do we even have a creator, like the iPhone does? Who am I and why am I here?
How Do I Explain Who I Am?
Well, let’s answer the first question first – is my identity based on more than my relationships and my purpose? Take a deep breath; the answer is yes. Unlike the iPhone, you have a personality and passions. That is a huge part of what makes you human.
Let’s describe the four things that make up your identity as four “P”s. First, you have your relationships with others – your PLACE in this world. Then there’s your PURPOSE. The other two things that make you unique are your individual PERSONALITY and your PASSIONS.
A quick note – notice that “performance” was not one of the “P” words.
I want to remind you that while you can accomplish incredible things, it’s important not to confuse this with who you are. We want to look at purpose to define ourselves, not performance – because you are a human being, not a human doing!
Now let’s go to the second question from above. Do I have a creator? The answer here, too, is yes – and that helps us tremendously to answer the question “Who am I?” Just like we learned more about the iPhone from talking to Steve Jobs, we can learn far more about ourselves by talking to our Creator. And the good news is that he wants to help us understand who we are! Who am I and why am I here?
Who Am I? An Explanation
Let’s quickly look at how our Creator describes us in with the four “P”s. Here are some Bible verses to tell us about our identity.
PLACE: “For you (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)
PURPOSE: “God blessed them (the first humans) and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28)
PERSONALITY: God “set me apart before I was born, and called me by his grace” (Galatians 1:15)
PASSION: “Man looks at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
These are just four verses that scratch the surface of all God has to say about us.
We are his masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) and we are made in his image (Genesis 2:27), so he is very invested in helping us understand who we are. What if you started using your iPhone as a doorstop? Or what if Steve Jobs had abandoned his creation and never brought it to market? It’s critical that we understand our place, purpose, personality, and passions in order to know who we are. To see what your Creator says about these four things, read “What God Says About Your Identity”