I’m still pondering the who or whose “I am” question. Descartes said, “I think, therefore, I am.” I have no idea what that means. To be truthful, I can drive myself nuts asking questions such as, “who am I?” There are many ways to describe myself. I am female. I am a widow. I am the mother of four amazing kids. I am a retired pastor. I am white. I am American. I am Mennonite. I am the writer of this blog. I am, I am, I am, all of which tell me things about myself but not who I am or whose I am.
Politicians tend to define people by political affiliation, race, educational level, urban, rural, white or blue collar, conservative or liberal, ethnicity, religion, legal or illegal, etc.. Businesses see us as consumers whose value lies in our ability to buy their products. But again, consuming is something we do, not who we are. It is also our consumer society that defines individuals as successes or failures, determined by our buying power, prestige, and possessions. One of my seminary professors challenged us to know ourselves by looking at the people with whom we associate, love, and share our values. The key to discovering who we are, he said, comes as we fill in the blanks to the statement: “I am the one who is loved by…..” “I am the one who is loved by…..”
I do know I have this tendency to overthink everything. I can take something fairly simple and turn it into something complicated instead of accepting what is and going from there. In the end, the closest I can come to an answer that satisfies me is; “ I am a beloved child of God.” But then I have no idea what that means as I have no idea who or what God is, if God even is. But then, maybe I don’t have to know who I am or who or what God is. Perhaps it’s enough to accept that I am, that there are Powers so much greater than we can envision or comprehend. Maybe it’s enough to accept that life is complicated and mysterious and being able to love and be loved is an amazing gift.
I look out the window. White clouds drift lazily across a brilliant blue skyscape. Red and yellow leaves drift lazily to the ground, their dying beauty so intense I find myself holding my breath in awe. Does it even matter who I think I am or who I understand myself being connected to? What if it’s enough to simply be aware in this present moment, able to drink in the miracle and majesty of what is, grateful for this amazing thing we call life.
Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper.