By Inna B
I was born in Russia and immigrated to the United States with my mother at age fourteen. I never had had to explicitly ponder my identity before, but suddenly one was assigned to me when I started high school in a small rural town in Florida. I was “that Russian girl,” “that foreign girl,” or “the girl with the funny accent.” My name was mispronounced in all ways possible. My personality or other qualities seemed to matter less than this new identity. Everything I did or said could be taken as a representation of all Russians collectively. That was overwhelming!
The question of identity is an important one for every person, Christian or not. It is something that everyone ponders at some point in their lives, and the outcomes can be very different. Identity can be defined by one’s nationality, personality, experience, personal tastes, appearance, health, race, or any combination of those and other factors. For some of us, however, to come to terms with “who I am” is more challenging than it is for others.
My experiences in high school started me thinking about “who I really was.” I enjoyed reading and writing, and I loved listening to music. I also had an interest in art. But while I determined through trial and error what my particular tastes were, deep in my heart I still was not sure who I was. My experiences just created more questions than answers. Why was I me? Why was my life taking these particular turns? Searching for these answers proved to be difficult.
At the university I studied languages and literature. My love of reading took me to many interesting places, literally and figuratively. Many of my questions appeared to be the very subjects of the literary works that I read for my classes and for recreation. Finally, when the lack of answers was felt sharper than ever before, I learned, to my deep surprise, that I was a daughter of God. That was my very true identity that I was so desperately searching for.
I confess that religion was not the source that I turned to immediately. But the words of Christ sounded so comforting to me that I wanted more than anything to hear more and to learn more. In Psalms 82:6 we read, “All of you are children of the most High.” Paul also writes in Acts 17:28 that “we are also his offspring.” Through these words, I knew who I was and why I was here on Earth.
This knowledge came little by little until I realized how much God loves all of his children. I am sure that I still don’t understand the full extent of His love, but I can certainly feel it. When we are suffering He happily extends his hand to help us. He invites us all to partake of His blessings, to share the happiness that only He can give us. He wants to provide the answers to the many questions that we may ask. The knowledge that everyone is “a child of God” is so essential that it forms the very core of every person. It should direct our actions toward ourselves and toward others. While I am still working on my many imperfections, I know that God loves me, and that He wants the best for me. He also wants the same for all of his children.
I was blessed immensely through this knowledge. I feel grateful that I could have this knowledge in this life, and that I have time enough to apply it. The blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are real, and God desires us all to know that we are His children.