Identity Theft

No, I’m not talking about getting your credit card or personal information hijacked or your email hacked. That is a pain, and sometimes a costly one.

Rather, I’m thinking about identity as something more fundamental having to do with who at our core we understand ourselves to be. It seems to me that one of the challenges of our wired world and the multiple situations we find ourselves in is the loss of a sense of self in the myriad of identities we maintain and it may even be that we come to believe that our identity is this ever shifting, situational “something” that lacks any conscious rootedness.

Some of the challenge may be the pace of life. We may so frantically move from this online conversation to that phone call, to this family crisis, to that work project, to this entertainment experience, that we rarely attend to our inner world. Sometimes this frantic pace can be an effective strategy of muting that voice. And we often mistakenly seek to find a sense of self, a sense of identity in these things–work, family and all–and then are at a loss when these are taken away.

In a way, this leads to a possible definition of identity–what is it that cannot be taken away or be defined by situational factors, and are these generated by oneself or external to ourselves. And where can we go to find an identity that cannot be stolen?

This topic of identity came up at breakfast today at the conference I am attending as we discussed the pressures on students and faculty we work with on university campuses and the challenge of living an integrated life that has a sense of wholeness rather than the fragmented lives we often live.

As people of faith, we talked about our relationship with God as the reference point for our identity that makes sense of our inner worlds, our relationships, our work, and our life in the physical world. But I would be interested in how others who follow this blog think about this. Is it ultimate wisdom or a cop out to look to God for a sense of identity that cannot be stolen? How do you answer that challenging question of “who are you?”

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