Who am I really? It’s a good question. Some of us find ourselves deep into adulthood and we still don’t have a clue. Men come home from war, confused about their identity. Men marry, settle down, and have kids, all the while wondering what really defines them. Guys work hard at a job, introduce themselves as an engineer, sales rep, or manager, but a job title says little about who they really are. It doesn’t help that we get bombarded relentlessly with advertising designed to associate our identity with transportation (manly men drive rugged pickups), beverages, technology, or some other purchase that merchandisers want us to believe tells our story. Even our past purchasing patterns are leveraged to build “consumer profiles” that, if we’re not careful, begin to define us.
Millions of American men fall victim to a kind of identity theft. It’s the loss of a clear sense of self and it happens so easily because most of us simply don’t know that we don’t know who we are. Not knowing leads to confusion, to extramarital affairs, to disillusionment, to financial stress, to bankruptcy, and to divorce. Who am I? It’s a question we all should ask. And it has an answer. Find out what it is by answering these three questions.
Who or what is my great love?
Is your great love your family? Is it yourself? Would you have to admit your great love is material things? We must come to an honest answer if we are going to understand what really defines us. This question concerns the central idea that shapes us, that commands our foremost loyalty. The answer can go a long way to help clear up the core of our identity. The answer may be me. For some, the answer is power. Others make a god of wealth. A lot of things can take that role. When our answer is God and we see ourselves as God’s valued child, the core of who we are is never in doubt.
Where do I feel the most like myself?We often struggle with a sense of identity because we fail to pay attention to our heart’s true home.
At work? Around the dinner table with family? Out for a solitary walk? Driving on the freeway? Serving the needy? On the golf course with friends? In church? In a huge crowd? How we answer this question sheds light on the context where we will thrive. We will not thrive if we fail to invest ourselves in the right environment—the environment that engages our purpose and affirms our identity. We often struggle with a sense of identity because we fail to pay attention to our heart’s true home.
What could I not afford to lose?
A tornado is coming in five minutes. There’s a fire in your house. A flash flood is imminent. You have almost no time to gather a few important things—just enough to fill one small suitcase. What would you choose? The discipline of thinking about what we could not afford to lose helps us make choices as to where to allocate our resources. When we understand what is critically important—and what is, likewise, much less important—we are encouraged to nurture, protect, and encourage those assets. When we recognize that nothing measures up to the safety and welfare of our loved ones, we also know something more about ourselves. It begs the question: What are we going to do about such treasures?
Sound off: How would you answer these questions?