A couple of weekends ago, I grabbed my boys and headed to the woods for some father-son skeet shooting. Full disclosure, our version of shooting skeet looked a lot more like shooting randomly into the sky than knocking clay pigeons to the ground. But this was a big step for me. Taking my boys to shoot a gun or catch a fish elicits the same feeling I get changing a flat tire, walking into Home Depot, trying out a new recipe, or reading Wild at Heart. There’s a little voice whispers in my head, “You’re not man enough” or “You’re not handy enough.” It’s the same reason I lay out each screw and re-read each step when putting together a Christmas present or why I often write a check instead of attempting a home improvement project myself.
I think it’s the fear of being discovered. Of my boys finding out all of the things Dad can’t do or wasn’t taught to do. And it manifests as a subtle message of shame rising inside of me and whispering, “See, I told you, and now everyone knows” or “You call yourself a real man, but you don’t know how to _______.” And as I’m sure you know, once that hamster wheel starts spinning, it isn’t easy to stop.
In his book, Becoming a King, Morgan Snyder writes how, after the fall, Adam (and thus each of us) “began an incessant search to answer the question, Who am I?” This search introduced the mentality still plaguing so many of us today . . . “‘I am’ was replaced with ‘I am not’” and “‘I can’ was replaced with “‘I can’t.’”
The core issue at play is our identity. Adam hid behind a fig leaf; we put on masks. We self-protect and hide our true selves from others, hoping to avoid being discovered. In my case, I want my boys to know I’m capable, my wife to know I’m successful, and my friends to see I’m okay.
As the boys and I struggled with our shooting, the instructor looked at all of us and said, “Y’all need to stop thinking.” As we absorbed his advice and tried to relax, you’ll never guess what happened next . . . each one of us hit a few clay targets . . . and little by little, we began to identify ourselves as shooters.
When I begin to judge myself based on my job title, size of my home, or the things I’ve accomplished, I think Jesus looks at me and says, “Kevin, you need to stop thinking.”
He doesn’t say it with His arms crossed and His head shaking. He comes beside me, puts His arm around my shoulders, and lets out a laugh. Then He reminds me of how He sees me . . .
- Chosen by Him; holy and without fault in His sight (Ephesians 1:4)
- His handiwork, His masterpiece, created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10)
- A son and an heir (Romans 8:15-17)
I could keep the list going, but I’d rather you dig in and discover for yourself what He thinks about you. Because what you believe about yourself matters. As Snyder goes on to write in Becoming a King, “We cannot live beyond the identity we have embraced.”
If that is true, and I believe it is, we’re left with a choice to make every day: which identity will we embrace? The one we tell ourselves? Or the one the world tells us? Or will we embrace our true identity . . . the one our Creator says is true.
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