Cogitation XVII: Who Am I?

My name is Leke Alder. It’s a name given me by my father. The surname was a name given him by HIS father. That name, “Leke” is a piece of history, not of me but of my father. It is his perspective on my birth. The full name, Oluwaleke literally means “the Lord overcame.” It is a Yoruba word from the west coast of Africa. It is a narrative of the difficulty of my birth. It enunciates the brutal warfare between the forces of darkness and light as propounded in Christian theology. It’s actually my middle name. My first name is Samuel. Curiously I had adopted the name in response to my search for identity as a 16year old African. But both my middle and first names are two expressions of the same difficulty. In Shakespearean lore I was not born of a woman. I was born by caesarean section. It was a most difficult birth and for my mother it would be the first and the last. The name Oluwaleke is therefore a proclamation of victory.

But that name, Oluwaleke is not who I am. I am not my father’s perspective. At best the name is a societal ID, some sort of communal identifier. Shorn of my father’s narrative my name is no different from a numeric identifier, like 001. Those in prison are often so identified. The number is not who they are, anymore than my name is who I am. So who am I?

I am a brand strategist by profession. But that’s not who I am either. The reason is simple: What was I before becoming a strategist? Was I a nobody, a nothing, a piece of anonymous looking for definition and identification? Therefore how I feed is my professional label it is not who I am. Who am I?

I am a man. Only that that’s not who I am either, it’s my sex. My sex is my relative differentiator from members of the opposite sex. Were there no opposite sex I would never say I am a man. There will be no need. “I am a man” is therefore not who I am. It is a mere differentiator from a group of those who are not men. If my sex is not who I am who am I?

May be I can define myself as a father. I have two lovely kids. But that definition falls on the sword of the logic that disqualified me from defining myself as a brand strategist. Before I became a father did I not have an identity? If I was not a procreator would I not have an identity? What about men and women who have no children? Does it mean they have no identity? Fatherhood therefore cannot define me. It does not even capture my essence. Who am I?

Perhaps I can define myself by my faults. Since sins are proprietary to individuals can my sins define me? Every human has a unique sin disposition. The unique sin disposition is a carnal ID of the human race. The only problem with this identity is that it does not distinguish the nature of man from his acts. As far as we can tell every human has a sinful nature. It’s the default in humans. If all of us have a sinful nature it follows there can be no differentiation between humans based on carnal disposition. All sin. Therefore no identity can be realised from the sinful nature of humans. That nature is generic to all humans. My unique definition is therefore not “Sinner.” We’re all sinners.

But what if I define myself as a human being. Only that that raises the question of what a human is. To know what a human is we must know what a human is not, or how would we know there are no overlaps in definition. Knowing what a human is not would give us insight into what we claim to be. And it’s a claim. There was no referendum among creatures. We just asserted our humanness. It’s a self-definition. We “know” we’re “humans” because we call ourselves “humans.” It’s our supposed differentiation from animals. But we soon run into difficulties when we call ourselves higher animals. There is an overlap and that blunts our definition as humans. Who am I?

Since I do not have an answer on the resolution of my identity from the present perhaps I ought to look into human history. A philosopher-king simply known as David tackled this question 2,000 years ago. He wanted to know what made him, him; what made him a being, and at what point he became a being. David located the process of becoming outside of himself. He spoke about an artistic entity, a maker of complex structures and systems, an infinitely creative genius who made him. This being he called “Lord,” meaning he’s also an authority political figure. He says this Lord made him. We must assume the Lord gave him that piece of information since no other entity has the capacity to provide such knowledge. If David is right, then the right person to ask about what “David” is or who David is, is the maker.

We can indeed call this Lord, Maker since he specialises in making. He’s synonymous with inventive ingenuity, hence Maker. This is what David wrote about him: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalms 139:13-16 NLT. David is saying in essence he existed before he was made human. If David existed before he was given flesh he will transcend death. Neither birth nor death can extinguish him. The degradation of his body parts cannot eradicate his being. He’s transcendent. There is therefore a being beyond David’s body and the Maker made that being.

David asserted he was not an accidental creation. He presented himself as a thought out creation. He was programmed. A schedule was attached. That schedule David said is registered on a log kept by the Maker. It’s simply known as “the book.” The log is quite detailed. The Maker thinks through every imaginable circumstance, every probability. He generates the conceptual framework, builds the hardware, creates the operating system, writes the code for the apps, develops the programmes, does full integration like Apple. What David is saying in essence is, we cannot know ourselves outside of this Maker. Our sense of identity, our sense of self, our purpose, our mission in life… All are logged in the Maker.

Another “product” of the Maker shares similar experience. His name is Jeremiah. He’s from ancient times, circa 626BC. The Maker told him: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations – that’s what I had in mind for you.” Jeremiah 1:5 MSG. And so the Maker creates and purposes entities. Going by the testimonials of David and Jeremiah we can in the fashion of Descartes declare, “I am made, therefore I am.”

In defining myself therefore I can’t separate myself from my programme and purpose. Life for me will have no meaning outside that programme. I am synonymous with my programme. I am my programme, I am my mission. My existence has no meaning outside the design of the Maker. My quest in life should therefore be to discover that programme, to fulfil that programme. If I discover my programme I discover my identity. And the only person who can give me information on what my programme is, is the programmer himself, the Maker.

The identity of the Maker eluded us for generations. But then we lurched into the writing of a theologian named Paul. He lifted the veil on the Maker. First he confirmed the identity of the Maker: “For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created and exist through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16 AMP. Then Paul says, “Everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.” Colossians 1:16 MSG. This is a confirmation of the programme design David spoke about. It affirms the purposing. We are a purposed creation. From Paul’s writing we can see the versatility of the Maker. It’s incredible. He even designs abstract concepts like political authority. And his range is not limited to this realm. It extends to the heavenlies.

The Maker himself confirms this through another product. His name is Isaiah – “I made earth, and I created man and woman to live on it. I handcrafted the skies and direct all the constellations in their turnings.” Isaiah 45:12 MSG. Thus we see the Maker assert his intellectual property rights over creation.

Another made and purposed entity called Nehemiah confirms this assertion: “You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you.” Nehemiah 9:6 NLT. We can glean this Maker is a potentate worshipped by extra dimensional beings. He is extraordinary. His processing power and memory capacity are humongous: “He counts the stars and assigns each a name.” Psalm 147:4 MSG. That’s a lot of stars. We’re talking about a billion trillion stars in the observable universe, may be more. The Maker keeps track of each and Isaiah confirms this: “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.” Isaiah 40:26 NLT.

Who is this meticulous genius? A theologian named John says he has a nickname called “Word”: “Before all time was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was continually existing in the beginning co-eternally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being.” John 1:1-3 AMP. And as you read John further it becomes apparent that the Maker is Jesus. Paul intuited there is no purpose or existence outside of him: “All things were created and exist through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16 AMP. “For in Him we live and move and exist, that is, in Him we actually have our being…” Acts 17:26-28 AMP.

This leads me to the inescapable conclusion and resolution of my identity crisis: my purpose is my unique identity. It’s who I am. I am purposed therefore I am.

If you’ll like to know the Maker and find out your programme please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”

© Leke Alder | talk2me@lekealder.com.

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  • Oluwayinka Idowu

    Very deep and precise, Leke.
    Some are however still in the endless pursuit of finding their life purpose in order to seal their unique identities.
    I suggest we you help write (by God’s inspiration), the most direct means of searching and obtaining our individualized purposes.
    Thank you and God bless you.