Identity Runs Deep
The fact that we are more than we think (see prior article) is an important principle that will be repeated and underscored in other places in this series of articles. There are aspects of our identity that are determined by reality and what God says about us; not by our opinions, desires, behavior, and histories. It’s also important to note, however, that a person’s identity runs deep. This is why we can’t settle for defining identify by superficial experiences, desires, and histories, no matter how significant the experiences may seem to be.
A person’s identity involves an infinite number of influences and experiences (known and unknown) that shape their own perceptions, but also involves a host of mysterious elements that defy definition. How do we explain an individual’s inclination toward artistry? How do we qualify how twins, raised in identical circumstances, can become wildly different in their personalities as they age? How do we account for one sibling developing a strong sensitivity for spiritual things at a young age while another sibling seems uninterested until much later in life?
The Psalmist affirms that “I have been remarkably and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). If we take this seriously, then we can only imagine just how complex and deep are the mysteries of identity that God places within us. However much we may study and seek to understand the myriad of elements that shape identity, we should be quick to confess that God has created human beings to be very complex. We will never be able to fully grasp just how “wonderfully made” we are.
Complexity Leads to Uniqueness
And, the deeper we go into an individual’s psyche, the more we discover that the person is truly unique. Some people may appear to be very similar on first glance. Even after you get to know two very similar people, you may be tempted to think they are virtually identical. But they are not. God places mysterious and unique sensitivities, skills, desires, and characteristics into each person. One can imagine God, the Master Craftsman, laboring over the creation of each individual. Each is an amazing work of art. Each is special. Each is “remarkable.” Each is unique!
It would be impossible to discern or identify all of the complex uniquenesses of each person. Many are residing deep within the individual and may not even be known at a conscious level. They do, however, impact the person in many ways; motivating action, shaping moods, and influencing decisions. This is why we can discuss personal identity at only a superficial level. No matter how deep we attempt to go, we can never fully plumb the depths of identity, either at an individual or group level. Nonetheless, we can, we believe, identify some of the significant factors that influence identity and, subsequently, develop a model that allows us to talk about identity with some frame of reference. That will happen in subsequent articles.
This article is one of a series related to identity.
Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher
See a list of other articles by Rick Edwards.