Tell me who I am to you.
There are few things more important than our identity. When someone calls your name, it feels good. When you are recognized by long lost friends, it feels good. People recognize us for what we do, who are parents are, our past, our reputation and other intangible things. Often, we act different ways around other people, trying to impress, trying to fit in, trying our hardest not to be ashamed.
In the first fifth of my life I was happy with who I was, proud of my parents and family and happy to be a Christian.
I spent the next two fifths trying to be what was expected, embarrassed by who I was, because I didn’t have the cool clothes, or the big money, I was often ashamed of who I was. My identity was not clear to me, and I was trying to ‘find myself’. I struggled with depression, addiction to pornography and sex, seeking happiness in alcohol and worldly distraction, trying to impress people that didn’t really care about me, working in unstable in my jobs, and a surface (at best) Christian.
The next fifth I spent with my identity wrapped up in my work. I became more stable, but when asked who I was, it was never a father, husband, Christian first, it was always my jobs definition of me. I was still trying to impress people that didn’t matter, but I was on the right track and God had given me more opportunity to define my self and fine tune my purpose.
The current fifth has been a change of pace. I found my purpose, which was literally sitting in front of me since I was a little kid sitting in church. My purpose is simple. I am created to serve the king of kings, the creator of the universe, to be a finger or toe, maybe a spleen or gall bladder, but be a part of the body of Christ. I have been given the ability to protect, and to teach others to protect, and to be safer.
When I was in the first fifth of my earthly existence, I recall sitting in the second row from the front on the left side of Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Redfield, SD and fighting with my brother so I could sit on the end of the pew so I could protect the church, maybe trip a bad guy or tackle him… keep in mind that I was a scrawny little kid – I didn’t win a fight until my freshman year in high school – fortunately I was not in many. However, I was willing and ready to protect. I joined the US Air Force to protect. I got out of the service and I became an EMT to protect – but I hurt my back and I became lost. I didn’t think I could continue down the path I wanted. The hurt back caused me to reevaluate my life’s path. I identified that I was smarter than I thought, I tried different jobs that taught me to talk, taught me to think, taught me to change my thought processes and understand I was smarter than the C- average student high school said I was. I took the opportunity to start to say yes to chances and start to say yes to God, but still struggled with a lot of negative junk.
The third fifth, where I was still learning who I was supposed to be brought me to my law enforcement career. I loved being a deputy and a cop, then finally a detective. I thought I was serving precisely where God wanted me. I was the little kid again, (maybe not as scrawny anymore) ready to tackle the bad guy before he hurt someone. I was ready, I studied, I trained, I taught, I got my mind right, but I was just a janitor. Cleaning up the messes of life caused by bad guys made me feel like I wasn’t getting to be the protector I was made to be. One day at my desk in the detective bureau I resolved that I was going to retire from the job, that I was there for life, and literally a week later I was forced to make a choice and chose to get out of law enforcement. I felt like a golf ball on a tee that was prepared to go straight west and God took a beautiful swing with a heavy duty driver and sent me straight north. Spiritual whiplash is a real thing. I was lost and confused again. I felt attacked. I fought with some pretty serious negative thoughts. BUT…
I was precisely where God wanted me. I had training. I had experience. I had ability. I was ready to not be a janitor. I found a good job that was flexible. It gave me time to teach people that needed to learn how to choose safety. I developed, I found focus and my true identity.
My true identity is this: I am a servant and follower of the King of the Universe, of Jesus Christ – the carpenter Joseph’s son, the kid from Nazareth, the one born to angels singing to the shepherds. My purpose is to serve him and to serve his people. I do that by sharing his love. I share his love by teaching people to be safe. I teach people to love themselves, how to ‘do not be afraid’, how to protect themselves and their family. I am a lover of Jesus Christ, a lover of my beautiful wife, a lover of my children, a lover of people who come to train with me, a lover of God’s magnificent creation, a lover of my enemy, a lover of YOU. And Bob Goff says that love is an action word – Love does.
So ask me what this has to do with self-defense. I dare you.