Who am I?   

by Mark Funk

As I looked over Okanagan Lake and the surrounding mountain ranges from my room, I pondered these questions: What one thing would I tell the other men on this retreat about myself? What motivates me? What do I desire?

To be successful!  So many good qualities can be summed up in the word success. With success comes recognition, accomplishment, and acceptance…the identity I’ve been yearning for. Thirty-five years ago when I started my business I was fearless, excited to do something new. I thought yearning to be successful was a healthy motivation. But as I sat there in solitude it dawned on me that it wasn’t a desire to be successful that was guiding me now, but a fear of failure. I was afraid to lose what I had. Could I tell the men about my fear?

On the last morning of the retreat I took the opportunity to tell the truth. I wasn’t sure where that was all going, but I knew I needed to start by admitting my fear. Little did I know; I was about to meet someone who would help me tune into my true identity. After I shared my fear with the men, Paul Young, author of The Shack, led the final session by playing an audio message by Jamie Winship. Jamie’s story intrigued me and seemed to touch all of us as he spoke about fear and identity.

After the retreat I began listening to podcasts by Jamie speaking about identity. The longing in my heart to discover my true identity increased. His coaching was helpful. I still thought my identity had something to do with my business and my desire to be successful. But Jamie encouraged me not to tell God what I thought my   identity was, but to let him tell me. He said that we shouldn’t expect it to be a voice we are familiar with, because we’ve been listening to a lie about our false identity for so long. This would be a new voice. Our real identity is not what we think it is, and when God speaks it to us, we will probably shake our head because we won’t expect it.

One day as I was listening to another of Jamie’s podcasts, I simply asked God, “Who am I?” The word that came to mind caused me to laugh. Beautiful. I doubted it, but a few minutes later when I heard Jamie use that same word, I asked, “Really?” The very next day I received a rare birthday message from my wife’s aunt in New Zealand and there it was: “You are a Beautiful Soul.”  The same word – beautiful – that had dropped into my mind a day earlier, now coming from a completely different source.

The impact of this experience is tangible. It feels very good to embrace and adopt this word beautiful as my own. Gone is the pressure of trying to be successful. I just want to live in my identity as a beautiful soul. It’s challenging! I feel empowered when I’m in tune with it, and I know when I’m not aligned. It’s who God intended me to be. It’s part of his character and it’s how I want to live and who I want to be. No more fear of failure. Perhaps the success I was looking for is embracing my true identity.

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