Am I defined by the work I do? Is it a part of my identity?
I don't know.
I've been struggling with these questions for awhile now, but I've kept quiet. Silent contemplation is so much more pleasant than being shouted down by Sunday school answers. See, I think almost any follower of Jesus would tell me that it's simple. First and foremost, I am a child of God, and that alone is the basis for my identity. And I believe that. But I don't know if I believe that answering the question of identity is as simple as we pretend it is. The phrase I always hear is:
It's not about doing. It's about being.
Oh. Okay. Mm-hmm.
That's a little too buttoned up for me.
Almost four years ago I started getting paid to make things. It was new. I've always been a creative person and have had some job titles in the past that maybe, sort-of referenced my capacity to create, but then I became the creative director at ROCKHARBOR. Suddenly, the act of creating became my full-time pursuit and the single rationale for why I should receive a paycheck. This period of my life has been the most risky, terrifying, exhilarating, trying, and fulfilling I've yet experienced.
The last four years have also marked the most significant spiritual growth I've ever known. I've seen first-hand the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. I have learned how God speaks to me. I've felt him working in the darkest places of my heart. And I have fallen in love with his word.
The fact that the nature of my work and the intimacy of my relationship with God both began to experience a momentous shift four years ago is not a coincidence. Every single day that I choose to engage in the creative process I am submitting myself to the very possible risk of failure and the very real need to hear from my Creator. In the midst of daily risk, failure, success, and just plain doing things, I am digging into the essence of my God and the essence of who he's made me to be.
So what's actually happened? Has my identity changed? No.
Has my understanding of my identity changed? Yes.
Has my capacity to live out the identity he's given me grown? Heck yes.
We are not the things we do, but a part of understanding who we are is intrinsically tied to the things we do.
In the opening pages of Genesis God creates. He makes. From that act we deduce that he is a Creator. In his work we are able to identify a part of his identity. I believe he was the Creator long before he created, but we could only come to understand his creative identity in the hindsight of that identity put into practice.
Likewise, I create. Is the act of creating my identity? No. But it certainly is my identity put into practice. By creating I am able to recognize the outflow of my identity as a creator, an identity entrusted to me as an emanation of the one who made me.
Day by day, as I am enacting my identity—putting what I know into practice—I am learning more about who I am, and I am placed on a trajectory to better understand who my God is.
What does all of this mean?
We are not what we do. But we do what we are.
I believe one of the best methods for us to understand who we are is in doing.
And this gets me excited. Why?
It means we're on an adventure!
When was the last time you tested the boundaries of who you think you are? Of what you feel you're capable of? Of what you believe God can do?
Start! Begin throwing yourself against the fences of your pasture, my friend. We have to try things. We have to take massive risks and see God come through. We have to try to fly before we start believing we can't. We have to dig to make the next discovery. Only by trying things can we learn who we really are, what we're really capable of, what we're called to, and who we're called after.
To be we have to do. To fully uncover our identities in Christ we have to be doing things our identities demand of us. So let's stop giving "doing" a bad wrap.