Each of us has within us a powerful drive to understand ourselves and to know who we are and from an early age we instinctively make statements beginning with the phrase I am. You may have observed your little girl using mum's make-up and then looking in the mirror and saying "I am beautiful". You may have noticed that when your child dresses up as a superhero they make statements like "I am strong". Or perhaps sadly, you may have heard your child say "I am dumb" when they have felt defeated in their learning.
Think about the different emotions that are stirred by those last two statements. "I am strong" vs "I am dumb". "I am" statements are powerful and how we finish them impacts our emotions, attitudes and approaches to life, and ultimately plays a significant role in identity formation. In fact "I am" are two of the most important words because what we put after them can shape our reality.
Often though, we don't finish our "I am" statements accurately, rather, we take a moment in time or isolate one part of our self to finish the sentence. For example, just because I can run doesn't mean I can lay claim to the statement "I am an athlete". And just because at a previous school I was given the title "IT Coordinator" does not mean "I am an IT whizz." The danger in finishing our "I am" statements this way is that we are coming to conclusions about who we are without realizing that we only see a tiny part of the big picture of our lives. Using what we do, what we wear, the titles we have been given, the way we look or what another person says about us as a reference point for finishing "I am" statements is problematic because they do not capture the complete picture of who we are.
The good news for us and the young people that are in our care is that when we know God and enjoy a relationship with Him, we learn how to finish these "I am" statements in ways that are accurate and provide us with purpose, meaning and confidence for the whole of our life. You see God, our Maker, has the complete picture of who we are. He knows the beginning from the end. He was there in the beginning and he promises to be with us every day. He has the complete picture of who we are, where we fit in, and what our purpose is.
So, what if we chose to hold more tightly to what God says about us and used what He says about us to finish our "I am" statements? What if we challenged what others said about us, remembering that they don't have the complete picture? What if we challenged what we say about ourselves in those darker moments, remembering that we don't have the complete picture?
What if when we feel unloved, we remembered that God says "I love you" and we declared "I am loved". How would that change our perspective? What if when we were restless and anxious, we remembered that God says He will never leave us so we can claim "I am protected." What if when others treated you like you were worthless you remembered that God says "I gave my Son Jesus' life for you" and you said "I am precious."
I relish the privilege that we have at the College every day to orientate young people to what God says about them so that they can finish their "I am" statement truthfully. Because it is these identity forming statements that provide direction, meaning and purpose in life. I encourage you, in that most crucial role you play as parents to seize every opportunity available to you to point your child to what God says about them.