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Questions of Identity

Questions of Identity

Questions of Identity

I was once asked during an interview to describe myself in three words. Though the question was unexpected (interviews in education are usually fairly predictable), it was effective. The word “identity” wasn’t used, but I was being asked to sum up my entire being using just three words. You may be reading this and considering what your own three-word response might have been to the same question: are your words based upon your own professional life and experience? Of course, this question is supposed to elicit such a response, but in so doing, it misses something of the essence of our identity.

As a Catholic educator, my personal and professional identity are intertwined, and in many ways inextricable from one another. Within this understanding, my three words become even more difficult to isolate since, however well considered, they can never tell the full story of myself to another in any context.

Much contemporary work on identity tells us that we are the authors and masters of our own identity and are capable of changing the parameters of reality as we wish. In contrast, the Sacred Scriptures offer a secure and beautiful understanding of identity that we often overlook in our quest to define ourselves – one in which we are known by our creator even before our conception. Surely this vision should be the origin of my three words:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations
(Jer 1:5).

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