This is a question that is important to answer for ourselves. Don't think so? Hear me out a little.
If you are anything like me, you have wandered or been bounced like a pinball between a few different conclusions about this. Our conclusions to this question can easily be swayed by how we are feeling at a given moment, or some agreements or assumptions we have consciously or subconsciously made about ourselves.
Some people will say you can be whatever or whomever you want to be. That you have the 'power' or 'The Secret'. That you can live "Your Best Life Now". For the sake of gross generalization, these people tend to be in large part, "glass-half-full" people.
Others say you are not in control of your destiny - that God or the devil or fate or the universe control these outcomes. That we are pawns in the great chess match of the cosmos. Again, I will oversimplify what clearly contains some very real nuance, and for the sake of conversation, suggest "glass-half-empty" here.
Try not to throw any rocks or vegetables just yet. Then there are the Jesus-follower types that say, who you are is pre-destined, and that you have a destiny that you are called to, or, that there is an identity you have already been given by God, that you simply need to recognize and begin to walk within. Now, if you take a historical dive on this subject, you will find the Stoics and the Epicureans. Speaking in generalizations again, the Stoics cared about virtuous behavior and living according to nature, while the Epicureans were all about avoiding pain and seeking natural and necessary pleasure. You can see that the remnants of these views are still very much alive today. Any one of these positions can sound poetic at times, ridiculous at others, based on the 'evidence' around us.
Well, I tend to lean in the direction of the Jesus-follower and the "glass-half-full". While I don't have time to unpack all my reasons as to why in this post, history records the death of Jesus. It records the resurrection of Jesus. And the Church, somewhat initiated by His followers, is one institution that has continued to survive the centuries, so, pragmatically - logically, it makes sense to give Jesus credence and the body of Scripture a fair shake.
Having said that, there is a passage in the book of Proverbs, written by King Solomon,(considered to be historically the wealthiest and wisest man of his time), son of King David, that states: "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Additionally, Psalm 139 reveals that "we are fearfully and wonderfully made." The book of Ephesians states that we were chosen by God before the foundations of the world. It goes on to say "we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Now some might argue that if our actions aren't lining up with what God has prepared for us to do, our desires must be out of whack, and as a result, who you want to be may not be lining up with who God made to be. And there could be some truth to that.
However, if our core desires lined up with something that is God-given, it is more than likely we are just choosing the wrong things to satisfy the right desires, and that is something that, over time, enough trouble and suffering (which are guaranteed to those who follow Jesus), will crucify our flesh, or, purify us by refining fire, working out the impurities.
I know this to be true from personal experience. There was a time in my life, when my desires were burning for the Kingdom of God, but I was so broken, I was trying to satisfy that burning desire in ways that were not healthy. I could not see myself as anything but shameful, so I continued making bad choice after bad choice. It was so destructive to me and those around me. And yet, curled up in a ball, weeping at night, all I could do was cry out to God for help, singing praises to Him. It was as close and intimate a time with God as I have ever had, yet, I was in the midst of a path of awful choices.
Eugene Peterson, the author of The Message translation of scripture, talks of "a long obedience in the same direction". It is a path we can choose made up of a series of choices in a good and specified trajectory. For followers of Jesus, that is a path toward or within the Kingdom of Heaven. More on that in a later post. Regardless of where you land on how you become who you are, when you read these statements that scripture relays to us about who we are, with any level of consideration, it is hard to argue against. When you think about how you think of yourself now, (whether in a positive or negative light, whether with shame or delight), and how you have thought of yourself at other times in life, there seems to be a thread between our thinking and our circumstance.
It is easy to feel shameful when we find ourselves in what people consider shameful circumstances. But it is also easy to feel delight when we are amidst good circumstances. The trick is, to remember who we are in those shameful circumstances and that these circumstances aren't forever, and take that "next right step". So I am going to leave you with this thought today: what if, WHAT IF, you were take the scriptures seriously on this matter?
What IF, you allowed yourself to not simply believe, but actually live out of the belief that you are not the sum of your mistakes - that you are wonderfully made - that you were thought of by God before the world was made, and that you have good works to do that were prepared for you before you were born?
How would that change the way you live today. What impact would that have on "becoming who you already are"? What might that make your future look like? How might that impact how you live your day today?
What IF, you could become who you already are?