Who Am I?
Good afternoon from Managua, Nicaragua!
On Monday evening I had the opportunity to talk to the young people in El Canyon about something that is challenging for all of us. It is something that tends to be more evident when we are teenagers because we tend to become more skilled at managing our image and our lives as we get older, but it still just as damaging when we are adults. No matter how old we are, incongruity in how we live and who we believe we are is a problem. To say it another way, often people often do things that are not consistent with the person they perceive themselves to be, me included.
In my experience, this happens for a number of reasons. I shared with the young people on Monday night that I did many less than wise things in my middle school years because I wanted people to like me. The desire to be popular certainly extends into adulthood. Other times we do something because it “feels good”. I can think of many instances in my life when I used this justification to do something “just once”, which often turned into more than once. Our secret lives also tend to be a place where we will do things that we would never want anyone to see. I could certainly keep going, but I think you get the point.
Why does this matter? We were never meant to function this way. While we may think we are good at managing our image and living split lives, the ruse rarely lasts forever. You can look at the lives of many public figures to confirm that this is true. Also, the way that people see us on the outside is a reflection of who they believe we are on the inside. This means that no matter who you say that you truly are the people observing your life are judging your character by your actions. What about the things done in secret? I have found in my life that everything I do, whether or in secret or not, tend to affect who I am and how I live. In other words, the actions done in secret tend to spill over into our public lives whether we want them to or not.
The truth is that we have to begin living the totality of our lives consistent with who we want to be. This is why the Apostle Paul told the church in Ephesus to, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV 1984) The word wise means having experience and good judgment. God desires that we have a full life, but in order for this to be true we must live the way that good created us to, wisely and consistently. In the end, the way we live on the outside is a reflection of who we are on the inside, whether we like it or not. Who are you going to be?
– James Belt