Hi, I’m Hugh. I love Jesus, and I love people — especially, it seems, the male variety. I’ve been through a lot in the past year. Some of it was bad, yet so much of it was far better than I ever would have imagined. A lot of it plays directly into what I am about to share . . .

Who are you?

I have often thought about how I would answer this question, given the opportunity. It’s a question that could provide a range of meanings, from a mere “what is your name?” to a more significant “what is the core of your identity?”

So, who am I? Here is one way I could answer that:

I am a college student in his early twenties. I’ve had crushes, and I’ve also been the crush of a surprising many. I like animals, and I like people. Photography is one of my hobbies, and I take more pictures of nature than people.

Having grown up in a conservative Christian household outside America, I regularly experience culture shock here, especially on campus. I love to find out how things work, which is what motivated me to pursue my current major.

This desire to understand the way things work extends to the thought processes that drive people. I tend to be pretty level-headed — unless I’m in love with someone, apparently. More on that another time.

But again, who am I?

This could be a question for self-edification or self-deprecation. A question answered with set shoulders and proud confidence, or a rhetorical question asked to oneself at the depths of loneliness and despair.

The best way I have determined to answer that question is I am . . .

. . . loved by God.

And that makes all the difference. Especially when I am feeling worthless. When who I view myself to be disgusts me, I can remember that God made me, and He saw that it was good.

Too often, after I fall into sin, I go through a period of self-hatred. I become hyper-conscious of the fact that I do not deserve to be in God’s presence. I want to run to Him for comfort, but how can I do such a thing after what I just did? 

Or I grow more aware of the things that set me apart from my peers. A lot of the guys I know at college are seriously invested in sports. If one of them mentions a name that everyone in the room except me recognizes, it is most likely some football or basketball player. This doesn’t usually bother me, but periodically I feel my inability to relate through sports-related topics on a deeper level. 

And, of course, there is inevitably girl-talk: “Who’s been catching your eye on campus?” I’ve heard a few times this semester.

This question used to feel more bothersome; nowadays, however, I have been able to use this question as an opportunity to share about my same-sex attraction (SSA). But for the purpose of this post, I will consider the times when this question has served only to remind me of my differences. 

If I’m with a group of guys who all suddenly start talking about some girl who is “bad,” or what have you, I usually end up feeling like I’m just silently sitting in the corner, waiting for a chance to be seen and participate in a relatable conversation again.

These are just a few examples of experiences that trigger some level of self-hatred. I become disgusted by the man I see in my reflection.

But a disgusting person is not who I am. That is a mistaken identity. I eventually remember that, in fact, God loves me way more than I could ever imagine, and nothing in all creation can change that (Romans 8:38-39). He created me to be tall, outgoing, and nature-oriented.

So, again, who am I? 

I am loved by God. And here’s what that means.

It means I don’t have to worry about fitting in with the people around me. After all, not one of them has the power even to change the color hair growing from one’s own head; not one of them less transient on this earth than I am.

The one who matters sees me, loves me, and relates to me more than anyone else in the entire universe. It means I am not alone, as even the sparrow finds a home.

I can’t directly see, hear, or feel God. But I can see, hear, and feel the people He puts in my life to love me as His representatives.

Maybe I can’t always relate to all of these people, but that doesn’t matter; I am loved by God.

So who are you? The answer is more constant than you may think.

In whom have you placed your identity in various seasons of your life? Have you ever realized you had a mistaken identity of yourself? What has this journey of identity looked like?

About the Author

  • Gosh, college! I’m glad I got to basically live in the art department, but it didn’t make these topics any less significant or challenging. God totally loves us dudes who notice dudes and I realized right around this time in my faith journey through college – once as a dropout and once as an undergrad. I don’t know why it clicked after 7 years but I lost much of the tension around my attraction fascination when I realized God made us (men and women) to need to see each other and to actually be checked out. Because God Himself is constantly checking us out! And He’s wild about us! I think that was a major key to finally hold in my hand where I could finally be comfortable around all people types and conversations, including my guys who are sports obsessed. I’m checking them out as they get so enamored with amazing sports professionals and the complexities of the game. It’s awesome to see guys light up because we as a sex typically get so much more excited over the funniest and most fascinating stuff. And that’s why I love guys in general! And then of course as I light up over my Father’s designs it puts light in my eyes so that people can be just people saved by grace and authored for a better story in Christ. I dunno that’s pretty cool.

    • Mike, I really like the point you made about guys “lighting up” being the thing that makes you like them. This is very true for myself.

      One friend in particular just makes me feel so good when I see him in his element and happy. He gets mischievous and makes all kinds of playful jabs at myself and others, or pretending he’s going to street race with random old lady drivers next to us at stop lights. Ha!

      I love how God made some men to retain that childlike awe and joy well into adulthood. And like you, in that delight of over others I find compassion for them once again in my too-often jaded, judgmental heart.

  • Thanks Hugh. Seeing myself from God’s perspective has been a life long struggle. He knew all about me and my junk when He saved me, and He did it anyhow. WOW!

    • That’s just it, Craig! All too often we find ourselves imagining God’s opinion of us as mirroring our own, when in fact he loves and cares for us far more than we could ever imagine!

  • Hugh. Thank you soooooooooooooooooo much for sharing part of your story and your perspective. As Brothers, though we may differ in ages, heritage, geography, etc., we share much … SSA, the negative perceptions of ourselves, struggles, etc. I truly love what you’ve shared … such negativity towards ourself … truly is a ‘mistaken identity’. What you’ve shared resonates greatly and reveals such wonderful reminders …

    So, again, who am I?

    I am loved by God. And here’s what that means.

    It means I don’t have to worry about fitting in with the people around me. After all, not one of them has the power even to change the color hair growing from one’s own head; not one of them less transient on this earth than I am.

    The one who matters sees me, loves me, and relates to me more than anyone else in the entire universe. It means I am not alone, as even the sparrow finds a home.

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This cannot be said any better! THANK YOU, Hugh!!! 🙂

  • Brother, I loved reading your post! A verse that I have been thinking on lately a lot is from Psalms 103:14a:

    “For He knows our frame…”

    And, another one from Psalms 8:4-5:

    “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet, you have made him a little less than God, and you have crowned him with glory and honor.”

    So yes, I can rejoice in being loved by God…and thanks for the reminder!

  • Thanks for writing for us, Hugh! I hope it’s not the last time. I’m personally eager to learn more about your culture shock from growing up outside America. Definitely a perspective I’d love to see more of on our (mostly American) blog. I deeply resonate with all your disconnect with self, others, and God upon giving into sin. I think I’ve gleaned a lot about grace over the years, learning the art of leaning into it, but there still remains that natural tendency to run. From others, from God, and even from self.

    Thanks for the reminder that I am not alone in these tendencies, as well as the power of this grace.

    • Thank you, Tom! It is truly an honor to be able to contribute to this community. I might be able to speak more to my international experience, but a great deal of my culture shock also comes from being a devoted Christian in a world where more and more people are viewing the self or feelings as God.

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