This past November, Ronda Rousey was on top of the world. She was the female Ultimate Fighting Champion. She had won 12 matches, most of which in the first round. She had a movie deal. And then she was shockingly defeated by a kick to the head from the underdog Holly Holm. According to an interview this past week on the Ellen DeGeneres show, Rousey said the following:
“Honestly, my thought in the medical room, I was sitting in the corner and was like, ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?’ Literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. In that exact second, I’m like, ‘I’m nothing. What do I do anymore?'”
She’s not alone. And her question sounds all too familiar to most of us.
What am I anymore if I’m not this?
This is the nagging question of identity that most all of us come up against at one point or another in our lives, but become acutely aware of during moments of crisis. It’s the question we encounters during an event like cancer or job loss or death – whenever we are robbed of something precious and dear to us – and then try to figure out what life looks like afterward.
Such circumstances are painful for a lot of reasons, but one of the primary ones is because they are stripping—they strip us of money, power, prestige, health, or a loved one. And they change our lives, forcing us to ask the difficult questions of personal identity. Who are you now that you’re not rich anymore? Who are you now that you don’t work at your former job anymore? Who are you now that you can’t exercise like you used to because of your illness? Who are you now that you have lost someone close to you? Who are you? And who am I? Pain strips us of the comfortable self-designations that we so desperately cling to.
Pain makes us poor.
But pain also opens the door for Jesus to do what only He can – to answer that question, once and for all.
See, we might define ourselves in all kinds of ways throughout the course of our lives. We might think of ourselves as the successful businessman, the popular friend, the witty party guest, or the champion MMA fighter. But each and everyone of those attributions are subject to change, all falling victim to the unrelenting sands of time and circumstance. But the definition that comes from Jesus? This is rock solid. It’s eternal.
When the moment of crisis comes, when we are poor in our identity, when all our comforting marks of prideful self-designation are stripped away, the door is opened for Jesus to step in and say, “Let me tell you who you really are.” So who are we?
“Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him. Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-2).
No matter what else changes, no matter what else is stripped away, we are once and for all the children of God. And when we find ourselves huddled in the corner of our own medical room having been round-housed by life, Jesus bends low and whispers in our ear, “Remember who you are.”
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