White Squall is a film about a sailing ship for troubled boys. Instead of boarding school, they head out to sea for a semester. It’s a fantastic tale of masculinity, brotherhood, and restoration. Just past halfway, one young man realizes his question:
Chuck: “I’ve been acing tests my whole life and I still haven’t figured it out.”
Jim: “Figured what out?”
Chuck: “Who I am.”
For a lot of us men, figuring out who we are – and all that entails – sometimes seems like the ultimate challenge. And for those of us who are married with young children, it feels like we have to figure it out right now. Because we’re behind. Everyone else around us seems to have already figured out who they are. Of course, they haven’t really. Most of them have simply realized what they can do really well. But from the outside, every measure of the world says that they are on the right track.
Last weekend, I had the honor and pleasure of attending a retreat put on by Ransomed Heart Ministries called The 30′s Retreat. A man I deeply respect, Morgan Snyder, shared with us his journey of the 30′s over the last few years. I’m quite certain that I will be sharing many of his thoughts with you in the next decade of writing. But today, what strikes me is this idea of figuring out who we are. It seems so crucial to our journey, such an important piece, and until last weekend, I felt like I was doing a pretty good job at figuring it out.
Then the strangest thing happened. For the first time in my life, someone began to challenge me on the question behind that question. When I ask the question, “Who am I, Lord?” I expect an answer that speaks to my identity as a man, mission in life, gifting, the next course correction, or some other actionable item. In my relationship with God, I’ve experienced lots of interactions with Jesus, especially relating to His ministry as first explained in Isaiah 61. Healing my brokenness, restoring my deep heart, fredom from captivity, and bringing light to the dark places. In the last few years’ in particular, the Holy Spirit has had significant influence in my life, from hearing God’s voice and walking with Him daily to those gentle nudges that change course and bring life.
But this past weekend, for the first time in my life, I met the Father. I thought I had met Him, but I really hadn’t. And I was stunned. Amazed. Weeping for joy at what the future of our relationship will bring. For the first time in my life, I feel free to simply be who I am. I don’t have to figure everything out. I don’t have to have all the answers. I’ve been given permission – or maybe, for the first time, I’ve given myself permission – to be who I truly am. And to simply rest in the peace and joy of love of that true identity which does not require me to produce anything. Doesn’t require me to be self-sufficient or autonomous. Doesn’t require me to get things done. In fact, hindsight reveals that I pursued those things so hard that I thwarted my own ability to simply receive and engage and rest in the Father’s love in the first place.
Like Chuck, I feel like I’ve been acing tests my whole life. But last Friday, for the first time in my life, I realized the truth. I am my Father’s son.