ONE PHONE CALL AWAY.
Finding your lasting identity in a world not built to last.
So you have your pretty little life.
House. Wife. 2.5 kids. Love. Security.
Maybe that nomad existence. Bolivia. Botswana. Berrien Springs. Traveling the world. Working remotely.
Perhaps you’ve gotten that dream job. Climbing the corporate ladder like a monkey on cocaine. Or watching your entrepreneurial endeavor grow from tiny start-up to major player.
Or, maybe you finally become one of 32 living people who get paid to play video games. You buy stock in Mountain Dew and grow roots on your couch, but love every minute.
Whatever your dream, you’re living it.
Until that phone call.
Or text. Or snap. Or email. Or carrier pigeon. The medium is not the point. The message is.
Your mother is in intensive care.
Your brother just died in a car accident.
Your house is in flames.
Your husband is cheating on you.
You have cancer.
The truth is, we are all one phone call away. One phone call away from a life deconstructed. From watching everything we have worked so hard for crumble to the ground. Tragedy has a way of exposing our souls, making it brutally apparent what really matters in this life.
Who am I? Who are you?
In order to answer this paramount question, chances are we turn to our jobs, our passions, or our talents to define ourselves. Perhaps we’re defined by someone else, a significant other or a family member.
“I’m Maria. I’m a finance manager and a part-time fitness model, and I’m Kevin’s wife.”
What happens to Maria’s identity, and therefore her self-worth, when she gets laid off, gains weight, and loses her husband in a plane crash?
When your life, your identity, and your self-worth are wrapped up in your accomplishments, your bank account, your physique, or in the approval and love of others, and one or more of these is stripped from you, you will fall apart. It’s inevitable. A house that is built on sand will not withstand a storm, and believe me, the storms are coming.
What is your foundation? Where do you derive your happiness, your sense of meaning? What do you fill that emptiness with? You have a void. I have a void. We’re just fumbling through the grey, trying to find a heart that’s not walking away, as Mat Kearney so eloquently put it.
Solomon knew what he was talking about. This king of ancient Israel had it all. Enough gold to fill a football stadium. Enough wives and concubines to last him a couple of years without any repeat customers. Fame. Honor. Respect. Kings and queens came from all over the world to shake his hand and bring him gifts. To top it off, he was billed as the wisest man who ever lived, although the fact that he willingly chose to deal with that many wives makes me question that designation.
If anyone had the right to derive his identity from his accomplishments and possessions, it was Solomon. Yet, he tasted everything this life has to offer, and spit it out, calling it vanity. Smoke. Meaninglessness. Chasing after the wind.
John O’Donohue put it this way: “Your identity is not equivalent to your biography.” From where, then, should our identity originate, in this fragile life that so easily falls apart?
The answer, I believe, is stunningly simple and confoundingly complex, all in one.
In this world of change, there is only one thing that remains the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
It’s the steadfast love of a God who will not let us go, who desperately wants us to understand that in him, and only in him, can we find our true identity.
We are made in his image. We are loved beyond comprehension. There are no conditions when it comes to God’s love. We don’t even have to accept it, or return it, and he loves us just the same. God is love. It’s not just one of his positive attributes; it is the core of everything he is, everything he does.
When we understand that God loves us more than his own life, when we catch a glimpse of a Father running towards us with arms open wide, it’s then and only then that we can find our true identity. We matter to the only One who matters. We are worthwhile. We are precious. We are beautiful. We are loved.
Yet, finding my identity in this love takes faith. A lot of faith. We can’t see God. We can’t feel his arms around us. Sometimes, we doubt his existence, or doubt that he actually cares. We live in a world of tragedy and pain. So many times, as I grow towards finding my self-worth in God, I’m shaken by failure. By rejection. By a torn Achilles or by Lyme Disease. By financial setbacks. By my own mistakes. I find myself once again feeling worthless. Lonely. Unlovable.
However, there is no other option for me than to believe in a love unbelievable. This love is the only foundation that will last when that phone call comes. The only foundation that will stand when those storms arrive. Without this love, what hope is left? Everything else will crumble and fail.
This love is free. It’s unlimited. It’s unlike anything you have ever known. When you’re confronted by it, it will not leave you unchanged.
Step into your new identity. Build your foundation on the solid rock. The storms will still come, but they won’t destroy you. They will only make you stronger.