By Pastor Mike Gudka St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City
During the month of March, I will explore what is commonly called a “personal world-view.” Whether you think you do or don’t, you do have one. But you might not have identified exactly what your personal world-view is. A personal world-view is formed from our experiences, our parents and family values, our learning throughout our lives, and it drives our personal perspective or point of view of the way the world works. It shapes how we act and react, what we believe, and it serves as a focal point for how we live our lives. It even determines what we are after in life and what satisfies us the most.
This week we will look at the question, “Who Am I?” When I ask this question to others, I usually receive a long pause with a confused look. After all, this is a question that most of us don’t spend much time thinking about. Then after the pause, I usually receive an answer that defines them by something outside of themselves, for example:
“I am an American”
“I am a cowboy.”
“I am a(n) [insert their job title at work]”
“I am a parent”
Others go negative with who they see themselves:
“I am a drunk.”,
“I am a divorced person.”
“I am a failure at work.”
Now think about this response for a moment. If your personal world-view defines who you are by something outside of you, then what happens when that thing outside of you changes? For instance, if you lose your job or retire and you have defined your life by what you did at work, then what is left to live for? Or if your world-view defines you negatively, how will you ever enjoy life? Remember, our personal world-view defines our actions and reactions.
I can remember when my father would define himself by his work, his love for my mother, and his role as a father, all good and noble things. But when he retired and the last of five children left home and started college that same year, the house was empty and he struggled with what to do on a daily basis. Two of the things he had defined his life by had suddenly come to an end. This led to a period of depression and wondering about his next purpose in life.
He then attended a Christian weekend retreat called “The Walk to Emmaus.” And wow did things change! Although he had always been a strong Christian, he realized the only constant across his life was his relationship with Christ. So today, his answer to the question is, “I am follower of Christ and a child of God.”
When our personal world-view is defined by something that never changes, yet always has us growing and changing, we are grounded in a world-view that will not abandon us. Regardless of what the world throws at us, we know that we are loved, accepted, growing, changing, and have an entire eternity to explore what it means to be a follower of Christ and a child of God.
This week, I encourage you to ask yourself the question, “Who Am I?” Think about your responses and what will happen if any of those things change. Do you have a temporary definition of who you are, or one that will get you through all of life’s ups and downs?