This last weekend in our Residency Program, we discussed Who God Says You Are by Klyne Snodgrass. This is easily one of my favorite books from the last few years, as it deals with issues of identity from a distinctly Christian perspective, and with the reality that much of who you are is shaped by things you did not choose.
But there is a great deal you are able to choose that shapes who you become, and we are all becoming someone.
Below is a brief excerpt from the book, I recommend you grab a copy and dive in.
At some point you have to take responsibility for yourself.
You can blame your parents and your circumstances only so long; you are responsible for who you are.
You deserve the chance to make an honest and critical analysis of yourself and choose with an honest executive self to be who you should be.
You deserve to be the real you.
Here is the really crucial point.
You do choose yourself, even though it is only in the context of the givens of your life.
Yes, there is the huge debate about your ability to choose, the limits to your ability to choose caused by sin, hardwiring, and other people’s sins and inabilities, but you still choose yourself.
You did not choose to be born, your family of origin, or where you were born.
You do choose if you will stay where you were born and how you will handle relations, even messy family relations.
You choose whether you will be honest with yourself about yourself and whether you are willing to be displeasing to yourself in order to become what you should be.
You choose whether you will be honest about and examine the society of which you are a part. You choose to accept or reject illusion.
You choose whether you will live an unexamined life. You choose whether you will take responsibility for your actions.
You choose how you will handle your urges and desires, especially your anger and your sexuality.
You choose whether you will give attention to and love God and God’s will or whether you will ignore God’s intent for your life and go your own way.
You choose how and where you will invest yourself and what interests you will pursue, whether your life will focus on really important issues and relations or on temporary pleasure.
You choose whether you will be self-centered.
You choose whether you will invest in your own learning and hold yourself accountable for learning.
You choose the people you allow to be models and mentors of your life.
You choose whether you will have good will toward people, even if they do not deserve it.
You choose how you will react to injustice.
You choose whether you will live from a sense of entitlement and privilege, so that you do not function from any sense of justice and fairness.
You choose whether you will blame other people for your failures and all that is wrong in life.
You choose how you treat people.
You choose what kinds of attitudes characterize your life.
You choose how you will steward your body and to what kinds of abuses and dangers you expose it.
You choose the communities-or at least some of them-that you allow to tell you who you are and that will be formative in shaping you.
Is God present in your choices? Of course, buy Madeleine Boucher makes a scary point: God assists people in the choices they make. God helps us choose life with him or lets us go our own way and even ignore him, Why God is so tolerant I do not know, but I do know choosing to ignore God is a dangerous path. Romans 1:24-28 makes the point three times that in response to humans turning from God, “God gave them over.” That is not a final giving over, as the rest of Romans makes clear. Despite human rebellion, God still seeks to live with us, nurture us, and participate with us. God still assists our choices to return to him, Even our choices are not ours alone.