Who Am I?

7 Feb

There is a story I will never forget, told by the Hebrew scholar, Ray Vanderlaan.

As a Rabbi was walking one nigh, he came to a wall surrounding a fortress. As he approached the wall, a guard shouted down at him,

“Who are you, and what are you doing here?”

To which the Rabbi replied, “What do they pay you?”
The guard, shocked, told him the meager amount, confused what that had to do with his question.
The Rabbi then replied,  “I’ll pay you double if you stand outside my house every day and ask me those same questions.”

Who are you, and what are you doing here?

How much time, energy, tears, education, money, effort is spent, often futilely trying to answer those questions?
Maybe we are oblivious that we are even asking.
Maybe the search haunts us every day.
Maybe we’ve settled for a plastic, religious answer.
Maybe a real answer seems impossible, distance.

Sometimes our answers feel like a dating ad, shallow and outwardly focused.

My name is Brooke. I like to write about my feelings. I like Indie music and traveling and cooking and I am a total nerd about the show LOST. I spend way too much time on facebook. LOL!

Not exactly something I want as an epitaph.

All of this reminds me of the scene from Zoolander, where the disillusioned male model  looks at his reflection and in the puddle and asks that haunting question, “Who am I??”


Maybe it’s not the little details about ourselves that define us, but who we were created to be, and the moments in life that reflect that in the most perfect way.

I have a very close friend I have known for years. We’ve been through hell and back together, having enough memories to fill several epic biographies. We’ve struggled, together or separately, over the years with all the stuff that makes up growing up. Making our faith our own, guys,  pain from the past catching up to us, decisions that affect our future, guys, family issues, spirituality, guys, the list goes on.

In my darkest times, she pulled me through, reminding me who I was. In her darkest times, I was there, attempting to turn her head towards the definition of her I saw and knew in my heart.

My definition of her wasn’t (and still isn’t) a list of cliche qualities, a few self-help bible verses on identity, or even a promise of a better future I didn’t even have the power to give.

The way I saw her, was made up of several moments, one in particular, where I looked at her and knew in my heart, “There she is.” It was a moment, the two of us young and vulnerable in another country, in the middle of nowhere, away from everything secure, where she spoke healing into the lives of women with passion and conviction. That is the “her” I held on to, even when we both felt thousands of miles away from that girl. That is the “her” I still believe is her true self, and I will always believe that.

I started to think lately, what if I had the true definition of myself in the same way?
Gosh. It’s the hardest thing to see yourself as you truly are.

I was thinking of attempting to isolate certain moments in my life that define who I am and why I am here. Moments, where it almost seemed, I was separated from my own self, looking above, and seeing how beautiful and magnificent being me really is. It doesn’t mean they were necessarily instances of bliss, in fact, there could be intense pain attached, but it’s a sort of pain you know is building you up, not ruining you.

In a water park in India, I stood between some beautiful girls known to the world as prostitutes,  and their self-righteous perpetrators. I felt  the heart of God, like I never had before. I told them Jesus loved them, and felt like it was the most important thing I could ever say.

I stood on the edge of a cliff in Truckee, California, alone at sunrise. I told God I was giving up, and it was the best thing I could have done.

I sat with a woman at a drug rehabilitation center,  who had lived through over fifty years of unimaginable hell, and listened to her life story. She told me I was the first one she ever told the entire thing to, and I was filled with the most humble sense of privilege.

These are just a few ones that stick out in my mind out of many.
These are just a few verbal pictures so I can remind myself just who I am and what I am doing here.

I know there will be many more to come.

And so, maybe instead of looking in a puddle, you should recount times in your life where your heart came alive and you whispered to yourself, “this is why I exist.” If you haven’t had those moments, maybe it’s time to take a risk.
May the grace and love of Jesus lead you into a deeper understand of the definition of yourself.
May you never forget, no matter how far the pressures and distractions of life may seem to take you from it.
May you come to know and love your existence, beyond a few sentences of likes or dislikes, beyond what you see in the mirror.

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