“Who am I?” (I)
“Who are you?” If you were asked this question, what might your response be? Perhaps your answer may begin with “My name is ……”, followed by “I am the mother / child / grandfather or spouse of ……”, or “I am a student at XX college, an engineer, a lawyer, a clerk or the owner of ……”.
This may seem to be a relatively straightforward question at first glance, yet the underlying message reveals our self-worth or identity. We can certainly answer this “simple” question in a casual manner, but if we delve into the deeper meaning behind this question, it is not difficult to realise that many people are still oblivious to their own value and identity, and there are others who are prepared to exhaust their whole life searching for an answer to this question. Brothers and sisters in Christ, so who are you?
Henri Nouwen, who was a Yale and Harvard Professor of Theology, put forward three common responses to the question “Who are you?”:
My achievements – What I have accomplished or what I am doing;
My reputation – What I am in the eyes of others;
My possession – What I have or how much I own.
Let’s look into “My achievements” at the start. To young adults and the middle-aged, their careers or achievements can be an affirmation of their status and identity. However, using achievements as a benchmark to gauge our value has its pitfalls – our self-worth and identity can undulate like a roller-coaster. At times when promotion or opportunities to demonstrate our talents knock on our doors, we will be ecstatic. When we face setbacks in our career paths, or when our health deteriorates, or when we are made redundant in a company due to the pandemic, we will be thrown into an abyss. Many elderlies, retirees and the sick have had similar experience as they feel that they are no longer of value.
Indeed, one day we will all grow old. Our bodies will become frail; our memories will fade; or we may lose our mobility. Do you think we can rely on what we do (including our ministry in church) to affirm our value and identity? Brothers and sisters, who are you, really?
當別人問「你是誰？」的時候，你一般是怎樣回答呢？「我的名字是 _ _ _。」接着，你可能會說：「我是某人的媽媽、孩子、爺爺或配偶 …。」或「我是某學院的學生，某公司的一位工程師、律師、文員或僱主…。」
曾任耶魯及哈佛大學神學院教授的盧雲 (Henri Nouwen)，提出一般人以三種答案，來回答「我是誰」這個問題。
我的成就 — 我做過或正在做甚麼；
我的名聲 — 我在別人眼中是怎樣；
我的擁有 — 我有多少或甚麼東西。
讓我們先看看「我的成就」。對青、中年人來說，他們的事業或成就可能是給予他們身份的肯定。可是，以自己能做到的事情來衡量其身份價值時，危機便出現了。那就是我們的身份價值，會像過山車一樣 — 時高時低。當得到晉升或有大展拳腳的機會時，我們定必雀躍萬分。但在事業上面對挫折，身體健康每況愈下，或像在疫情中面對公司裁員時，我們便像掉進深淵裡一樣；這也是很多老年、退休及病患者所經歷的，因為他們感到自己已沒有用了。