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When You’re Hurting, “Who Am I?” Is The Second Question To Ask—Not The First

By May 22, 2020August 31st, 2022No Comments
who am I

At the turn of the millennium, a crime drama series began with the theme song, “Who Are You.” Do you know the name of the series? It ran for 15 years, breaking complex crime cases using forensic evidence and science to discover who the victim was.

I love a good mystery, so this show captured my attention early on.

“Who am I?”

How would you answer that question?

Maybe your first thought was something like:

  • Wife
  • Mom
  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Friend
  • Accountant
  • Teacher
  • Nurse
  • Nobody

Wait. What? Nobody?

If you have been abused or are in a broken marriage, you do feel worthless. Like the perfect life that everyone else seems to have passed you by. But, let me make one thing very clear.

You are somebody special.

God created you exactly right. And because you are created in His image, you have value and worth. Even though, right now, you may feel unseen and worthless.

Jim Rohn said you are the composite of the five people you spend the most time with (KDS translation). When I first heard that quote, I tuned out to the rest of the presentation. It hit me in the gut. I thought, who do I hang out with? Do I want to be like them? Why? Why not?

And then I asked myself another question, “Who do I want to be?”

“Who am I” answers the snapshot of the person you are up to this moment. I think the more difficult question to answer is, “Who do you want to be?”

Like it or not, the people we spend the most time with influence our lives. Even though you may not agree with everything they think, say, or do, you allow them to rub off on you. And you influence them as well.

When I first started dating, I wasn’t discerning about who I went out with. Looking back, I want to ask the teenaged me, “What were you thinking?” The truth is, I wasn’t. I was simply thrilled to have a date with a nice guy. But when you spend time with someone in awkward, or, worse, little-to-no conversation, a smart person wonders what made you think this decision to spend time together was a good idea.

Then there is the thought that if you ingratiate yourself in with the popular crowd, you’ll be somebody. You can answer the question, “Who am I?” by linking your name to the popular crowd or a specific notable person.

And don’t think this applies to teenagers alone.

The next time you are in a large gathering, watch where the crowds are. Who is at the center of that group? Evaluate why people gravitate toward them.

I’ve been in large groups where people congregate with some of the most foul-mouthed people simply because that person has a lot of money or success. But, after listening to the person out of curiosity, I feel like I need to take a bath. While they might have some useful business tips, the energy it takes to wade through the filth to get to the gold isn’t worth it. Sorry, that’s not a person I want to influence my life.

When you look at “Who am I?” versus “Who you want to be?”, start with the people with whom you hang around the most.

  • Make a list of your current people. Just write down everyone you spend time with regularly.
  • After their name, put the following
    • Length of time you’ve known them
    • Relationship: friend, family, acquaintance, co-worker
    • Positive or negative
    • Encouraging or discouraging
    • Secret-keeper or Gossiper
    • Pessimist or Optimist
    • Source of Energy or a Soul-Suck
  • Now, on the backside of this paper, in two or three sentences, describe who you want to be. Think about this as writing your eulogy. Seriously. It’s not morbid to do this. Ask yourself what you want to be known for. What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?
  • Look back at your current list. Which of these people help you become who you want to be? Put a star by their name. Everyone loves receiving stars. ???
  • Who on your current list detracts from becoming the person you want to be? Draw a line through their name. If the person is a family member, you probably can’t sever all ties, but you can limit your exposure.

What happens if no one on your list fits with the person you want to be?

You’ve got some tough decisions and work ahead of you. The good news? You’ve discovered a truth about yourself. Often our friends reveal more about who we are than we recognize. At this point, you have a choice to make.

  1. You can continue to hang around these people, hoping to influence them to change for the better. But does that help you? Does it propel your life in a positive direction? Or are these toxic people for you?
  2. You can identify people you want to be more like, who better fit your new desired identity, and begin to build new relationships. Who do you know in your neighborhood, church, family, a wider circle of acquaintances, or even your gym that exhibits the kind of person you’d like to be? These are truth-telling and life-giving influences for you.

Those are your two choices. Option 1 means you choose to stay the way you are, focusing on the question, “Who am I.” The second choice allows you to stretch, grow, and mature beyond your wildest imaginations, directing your energies toward “Who do I want to be.”

So, how do you answer the question, “Who do you want to become?”

Even with a broken or wounded marriage relationship, you can choose to become who you desire to be.

Don’t embrace the excuse that you can’t because of your husband’s issues. When I decided to overcome my past wounds and heal from the damage pornography did to my marriage, yes, I wanted Dave to heal. But that was his decision, not mine. My healing depended on me, not him. Whether our marriage survived the addiction or not depended on both of us deciding to get healthy. Thankfully, and gratefully, we both made this decision. Each day since that choice, we make the same decision. Some days we do well; others are a train wreck.

What are you waiting for?

No one makes this decision for you. Today it’s your turn. You decide who you want to be.

If this feels daunting, reach out for help. It’s the best thing I ever did. Working through some toxic relationship issues with an unbiased third party changed my perspective. I’m so grateful.

For years I wondered why God allowed this horrible pain in my life. But I don’t wonder anymore. I believe God allowed this pain to draw me closer to him and to care for other women whose husbands are addicted to pornography.

Research shows that online porn viewing rates are just as high in men who attend church as those who don’t. And TechCrunch reports online porn viewing increases infidelity in marriages by 300%. I was shocked. But I’m not anymore. I know there’s a battle for our husbands’ hearts. And it is destroying marriages.

I help wounded women heal from this horrible pain. I offer free resources, a tender heart, and one-on-one help. You deserve to heal whether he decides to change or not. You don’t have to live with that pain. I can help.

  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.