brian j plachta
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Who Am I?
by brian j plachta on June 20th, 2020

“Who am I?”

It’s an important question, since our answer shapes the core of our identity. Am I my work? My role as a spouse or parent? Am I what people think about me? Am I my accomplishments?

Jesus asked  Peter, “Who do you say I am?”  Peter responded, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus then recalled what his Father told him at his baptism, “You are my Beloved, upon whom my favor rests.”

According to an article in Tabletalk Magazine, as Jesus grew in wisdom and understanding, he realized that every prophecy in the Old Testament was written to and about him. He came to know he was the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the Son to embody the wisdom and righteousness of the Psalms and the Proverbs to become the source of that wisdom and righteousness for us. He realized he was the Son of David, and his mission was to personify the saving and unconditional love of the Father.

Imagine that lightbulb moment which must have occurred while Jesus was praying, studying and reading the Old Testament scriptures and realized “OMG. I am the one about whom all of this stuff in Scripture is written. I am the Good Shepherd, called to lead my Father’s flock.”

It must have taken immense courage and conviction to embrace who he was, to ignore the rulers and religious leaders who contradicted him, and then to fulfill his mission.

Isn’t that what we’re called to do? Aren’t we given the task of discovering who we are and embracing the unique role God has given us?

If so, how do we do that?

While there’s no cookie-cutter approach to discovering who we are, Jesus’ life serves as a model.  Here’s some of what he embodied through his life’s journey.

1.You are my Beloved.  Jesus claimed the words his Father spoke to his heart at baptism. He refused to let the world, politics, or his accomplishments define him. He let the Father tell him who he was. These same words are spoken to each of us: “You are my Beloved.” Our task is to embrace those words in our hearts and not let the false voices in our heads tell us otherwise. Celtic author John O’Donohue writes, “Because the mind is always engaged with whatever is happening now, it often forgets who we are. The heart never forgets. Everything of significance is inscribed there. The heart is the archive of all our intimate memory. What is truly felt leaves the deepest inscription. Each of us carries the book of our life inside our heart.” Written on our hearts are the words, “You are God’s Beloved.”  Trust that truth.

2.Solitude. Jesus looked to the Father for wisdom and understanding. He took time each day to be alone with God to remind him who he was. In the quiet, Jesus received the guidance and direction he needed for the day. Lakota elder Frank Fools Crow taught that like the hollow shaft of a feather, we too must become a “hollow bone” through which spiritual energy and wisdom can fill us. Jesus knew the inner voice of God could be heard in the silence. He created hollow space every day to be still and listen. It was the source of his Divine Power. If we create sacred space for daily solitude with God, his inner voice becomes our Divine Power too.

3.Discovering our Gifts. As Jesus read the scriptures, he discovered his gifts of leadership, healing, and teaching. We too have been gifted with unique talents intended to be life-giving for ourselves and others. Our task is to discover those talents and use them to bring about the kingdom of love here on earth as it is in heaven.  In an earlier blog titled Tap Into Joy, we discussed resources that can help us unearth our talents. Taking a spiritual gifts inventory is a good way of discovering who we are and what we’ve been called to be. Discovering our gifts is life-giving.

4.Embracing our Gifts
.  Jesus was and is the Light of God who used his unique talents to teach the world how to love. He reminded us not to put our light under a basket—not to hide our abilities. Instead, like Christ, we’re called to be the Light of the world. John O’Donohue offers the same wisdom. He writes, “There is a quiet light that shines in every heart. It draws no attention to itself, though it is always secretly there. It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty, our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life.” To be whole we must claim our gifts, embrace them, and put them at the service of the Universe.

The Gift of Vulnerability

I’ve got a confession to make. I’m sometimes scared to be a writer, teacher, and spiritual mentor. I worry if anyone knew what it’s like to be me on the inside, they’d never read my words or ask me to walk alongside them.  When I show up to the page to write, I often shudder with fear. I’m not sure what to write or what to say. I want to run away. But then I sit in the quiet and listen, and the words flow—not from my mind, but from my heart.  

We make ourselves vulnerable by claiming and becoming who we are—who we are called to be. It’s much easier to let what we wear, what school we attended, what politics we claim, or our social status define us. But all that stuff leaves us empty as we search for something more.

Maybe vulnerability is a gift. By asking God to tell us who we are and what we’ve been invited to do to make the world a more loving place, our willingness to be vulnerable creates the hollow space for God speak to our hearts.

Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom

Years ago, after my mom died and my youngest child left for college, a buddy encouraged me to get a tattoo to acknowledge these milestones. I thought and prayed about it for several weeks. Then at church one Sunday, the Old Testament reading was about Solomon’s prayer for wisdom. I felt the God-nudge, and later that week got a small tattoo on my leg depicting the symbol for wisdom as a reminder to pray for God’s wisdom in the second half of life.

I am not a wise man. But I know from where wisdom comes. It comes from the silent whisper of the Holy Spirit.

And so, I sit each morning and listen with my heart. I don’t listen to the words in my mind or the words of the media or politics—their alleged “wisdom” is a noisy gong too devious for truth.

I listen for God’s wisdom. Sometimes I hear it like a gentle whisper deep within my soul. Even when I don’t hear it, I sense God is here, somewhere between the spaces of each breath, reminding me of who I am.

O God, tell me who I am.

—brian j plachta

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