Discovering that one has a new identity is strange and bizarre on a good day. Most of the time, I like who I am. I understand how to relate to people and my work. I know the rules. Life makes some sense. Anything new or different is weird, at best! When did I change? Was the change required or necessary? Did something force me into a corner?
Religions refer to the emergence of new identities. Simplifying a complex process, several eastern religions search for the inner power which represents our true selves, Christians refer to being born again, and others talk about the “new me”. Is there something about a fresh identity that one must discover or attain?
I realize, as I start a new year, that I am different from last year at this time. I readily admit that I do not know all the reasons for change, or even just how different I am, but I do know that I did not anticipate what I have now become. I wonder aloud what caused the change, how the new strengths emerged, and from where the myriad of weaknesses came.
As I searched for an answer to the question, Paul’s words came to mind. “You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!” (Romans 1.6) I am who I am because of God’s gift of Jesus Christ. I am whom I am because of my purpose in life, which is responding to the call of Jesus Christ, Son of God, now found in the Spirit. This explains the change occurring in all followers of God.
Discovering a new identity is a misnomer for what the Spirit does as we accept God’s gift and call. Too often, we think we can change over night, we cannot! God accepts us just in our current state, warts, and all! Accepting God’s gift allows his Spirit to touch our heart. The mystery of this decision is the process that occurs as the Spirit guides us to God’s heart. God’s values become ours, our real identity!