I have always seemed to work with a lot of people in the midst of that life transition from college to young adult, or to what is often referred to as emerging adulthood. So because of the extension of adolescence, and the pushing of adulthood and it’s responsibilities to later years (late 20’s to early and mid-30’s) people often find themselves wrestling with questions that have often been resolved, or at least grappled with in early developmental stages.
In my work as a college admission recruiter, college pastor and marriage and family therapist, I often work with people who come to me with questions that they can’t quite formulate themselves, but that touch at the core of who they are, and are very existential in nature in many ways.
They are questions of identity, or “Who am I”, “What am I to do”, “What do I believe.”
Over the last 6 months my supervisor has helped me formulate some questions that touch at the heart of clients that I work with that are going through this life transition.
So I often tell my client that they are asking 3 very basic, very fundamental questions:
- Who am I?
- What am I to do with myself?
- How am I to be loved?
Questions that we have been asking for thousands of years, and in reality, each of the questions are components of one another, and sometimes one must be answered for the other to be answered as well.
Jesus’ Baptism as Model
As I think about those questions I often like to meditate on Mark 1:9-14.
9At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
12At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
14After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Who am I?
For 30 years Jesus did ministry as a carpenter with little attention from the outside world that we know of. He had not started his ministry. But this scene at the river is what allowed him to be able to answer that question, “Who am I?” because, before he had done anything in ministry, he heard the voice from his Father saying that he loved him and was well pleased with him. So his identity, his ability to answer that question did not rest on what he did, but rather on who he was.
I think we must fundamentally be able to answer that question from who we are, and not from what we do, if we are to ever answer “Who am I?”
What am I to do with myself?
Here is where things interconnect. It’s because Jesus knew who he was, and could answer that question based on that, rather than what he did, that allowed him the freedom to move into what he was called to do.
When we don’t know who we are, then often we don’t know what to do vocationally speaking. When we can’t answer “Who am I?” we can’t move into what we believe God has called us to do, because at that point it’s about attaching our identity to what we do, rather than who we are.
How am I to be loved?
And of course, everything seems to hinge together here. Jesus was loved, and his father was well pleased with him…not because of what he did, but because of who he was. It was in the relationship with the Father that his identity rested, which allowed him the freedom to do what he was called to do…to go out and proclaim the gospel, and the freedom to be loved unconditionally, without conditions based on merit and good works.
Three fundamental questions, interconnected and beautifully modeled in the baptism and life of Jesus.
I wonder if you can answer these three questions? Have you even begun to wrestle with them? Are you answering these questions from what you do, rather than who you are?
Hopefully if you are not already on this journey, you soon will be…