What Is Your True Identity?

No matter where Louie and I walk, people stop to talk to him. He is friendly and loves to engage with people (outside our home ;-). “What is he?” is the question I’m often asked when Louie meets new friends. I give the same answer: “I think he’s a Corgi/Beagle mix. And perhaps a little bit of Basset Hound, given his deep bark. He’s a rescue, so I’m not totally sure.”

They will usually step back and take a long look at my pup. They smile and say, “I can definitely see the Beagle and perhaps the Corgi as well because of his little legs and long body.”

Some people will even share their Corgi or Beagle stories because of the characteristic
of each breed. As soon as I say Louie is a Corgi, people will say he must be stubborn. Or when I say that he’s a Beagle, they will ask if he howls. This amazes me and causes me to ponder his “true” identity.

So I experimented. When people asked, “What is he?” I responded, “He’s the best little buddy ever. He’s really well behaved and very loving!”

People look at me as though I didn’t hear what they asked. So they clarify their question, “I mean, what breed is he?” I understand the desire to discuss breeds, but this tendency has made me aware of how we often do the same thing to people.

When people see me, I wonder how I am identified? Some easily identify me as a woman of Mediterranean descent; some will see me as a bit older—thanks to the white hair; and some may classify me as middle class, based upon what I may be wearing. Some people take it further and associate me with a political party based on what I look like or what area of town I live in, or what church I attend. Some folks today are simply identified by the company they keep or how they feel. As I think about it, I’m not sure I want to be identified by any of those things. While I am proud of my heritage and love being a woman, are those the only ways I want to be identified?

This has also made me think about how I look at others. Do I assess the color of their skin or how they dress, or what car they drive? Or do I allow others to influence my impression based on gossip? Do I identify them by how they treat others, if their words match their actions, if they walk with integrity, and if they are honest, loving, and joyful people?

The words of Martin Luther King, Jr., are still influential today: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

One would assume that by now, we would assess people on the content of their characters and not only by what we observe, but look around at what’s going on in our society, and it’s clear that is not the case.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree, and reputation is like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Our world is desperate for people who act with integrity. But acting with integrity is intentional and springs forth from inner character. Unfortunately, we get the shadow of a person, not the real thing. We are influenced by our families of origin, peers, colleagues, the people we associate with, and the media.

I love to study the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I always learn and grow from that type of study. I believe this saying sums it up nicely: “Don’t judge by their appearance or height. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7. I hope that people know my heart based on my character.

As for Louie, he loves people more every day. He brings so much joy to others that to identify him only with his breed seems to sell him short and put him in a box. He is more real and honest and true than most people. Our world could learn a thing or two about character from a dog name Lou!

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