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?