Defining Ourselves

Recently I have been thinking about the many ways I define myself. Or as often is the case the way that our culture or others define who I am. I’ve never been fond of the idea of picking a label and calling myself “this or that”. I look at how driven western society is to segment ourselves into groups and attach our identity to a particular race, gender, sexual preference, political association, social-change cause, medical condition, or any other badge we pin on ourselves and I get a little uncomfortable.
Seventeen years ago my father was murdered and my whole world collapsed around me. Media converged on my family and immediately painted us as victims. My father’s case remained unsolved for six years and we spent another three years prosecuting the case in the court system. It was a nightmare and one that I am sure others reading this may have experienced themselves. During that time period in my life the label “crime victim” began to take it’s toll. I attached easily to the idea of being a victim because it allowed me to gain easy access to the press and kept my family’s plight in the community’s eyes while we searched for my dad’s killer. I helped found a victims rights organization to aid others who were seeking justice. Over time the label took it’s toll. The more I allowed the label to take hold, the more of a victim I became. My personal baggage became so heavy I could no longer find the strength to carry it any more. Anger and rage overtook me. I became obsessed not with justice but with revenge. I wanted to kill the person who took my dad’s life. I imagined various ways of torturing those responsible. The fantasy became a routine which ran through my mind on almost a subconscious level. My rage and bitterness took over. My friends struggled to support me and many turned away. My soul became very black.
And then one day in an instant of grace I had an epiphany. No matter how many times I murdered the murderer of my father in my head, he always came back! I couldn’t get rid of him through hate. So I tried to find a measure of forgiveness. It took many years but slowly I detached from the label of “victim” and became a “survivor”. My faith as a Christian led me to believe that the same Christ that died for my sins had also died for the men that murdered my father. That realisation was overwhelming. God still loved them. Even though I had hated them, murdered them a million times over in my heart. They were still forgiven by Him. It really hurt to discover that. But I am not one to point the finger at God and tell him what he can or can’t do. As this epiphany settled into my heart I slowly changed. The bitterness left me and I found my true loving and compassionate self again. Forgiving the men who murdered my dad didn’t mean that they were off the hook. The man who pulled the trigger on my dad still sits in prison and pays for what he did and I believe that is the just and fair thing. But forgiving him simply means I can live with the consequence of his sin. His actions no longer condemn me to hatred.
Perhaps some of you may ask what does all this have to do with diabetes? I guess the short answer is that I learned through my experience that I can’t define myself by my illness. I will only view myself as sick. This doesn’t give me persmission to ignore the disease. Their will be consequences to my choices and how I manage my illness. Overall, I have learned I don’t like labels. I am many things: crime survivor, single man, sexual abuse survivor, artist, writer, friend, brother, son, homeowner, caucasian, humorist, dog owner, and the list goes on and on. I don’t like labels but their is one label that brings me peace. It comforts me whenever I am tempted to define myself in any other way. Quite simply, I am a child of God. And at the end of the day when I have failed or succceeded in my struggles I remember that and I give myself a lot of grace.

Thankyou Dan.
This is my search now.
MeadowLark… waiting for my moment of
grace and mercy. Trying to take ahold of it.

You’ll find it Meadow. :slight_smile: God bless you on your journey.

Dear Dan
As you can’t define yourself by your hatred for another, neither should you define yourself by the existence of a supreme being. The strength you found was really within yourself, you just couldn’t access it any other way than through an artificial means…and I know it’s religion. I’ve been exactly where you are.
The human capability to forgive others is great. We all know that many in society make mistakes for various reasons, and that capability is within you. When you truly let go of the anger, your father will be at rest. I’m sure he wouldn’t want his passing to harm you, but make you stronger like the man he knew you would be. To be angry at your father’s killer is natural, expected and helpful. Denying that you are angry only deepens your pain. Be ANGRY. and deal with his passing. Only then will he truly be at rest.

Love ya bud
Been there