The first one (I am what I have) is defining myself by my possessions. It is an easy trap to think that my house, my car, my clothes, my books, my guitar represent who I am. If I lost everything that I have, would that change who I think I am? In our society we are programmed to identify ourselves with our possessions, and we must un-learn that idea.
The second one (I am what I do) is the strongest and most obvious one for me: I have defined myself as a teacher, and now as a minister; I have defined myself as a parent and as a husband. The deeper question is: who am I when all of that is taken away? What is the “me” that is left? Another way to think of this is: who am I when I am not doing anything? Many people use meditation to get in touch with their inner core: sitting and not doing anything allows our deeper self to emerge.
The last one (I am what other people say or think about me) is the hardest one. Do I define myself by what others say about me? If I don’t, then the truth of me must come from within. Or possibly from the voice of God, which is not “other people” after all. No, I am not what other people say or think about me. I am instead what the Force of Life says about me. The mysterious power that created me (Life/Evolution/God/Mother Nature) says: you are good and beautiful, holy and perfect just as you are. This is the inner truth that I want to remember, separate from material things, the roles I play in life, and the opinions of others.
May each of us find our center, our inner core, our ground of being. May we know the sense of serenity and belonging and purpose that come from deep within.
May each of us know that we are loved and worthy, whole and perfect, just as we are.
Rev. Andrew Frantz