“I allow myself to truly think about the possibility that I might make it home… No more fear of hunger. A new kind of freedom. But then . . . what? What would my life be like on a daily basis? Most of it has been consumed with the acquisition of food. Take that away and I’m not really sure who I am, what my identity is. The idea scares me some. I think of Haymitch, with all his money. What did his life become?”
For Katniss, as perhaps it is for most people, her identity had always been defined by what she did. For the majority of her life, what she did was to survive and help her family survive. She was her family’s provider. Life had been so bleak and difficult that Katniss had never had the time or luxury to consider what her life might be like, or what she might want it to be like, if she didn’t have to work so hard to keep them all alive.
Suddenly, in a quiet moment in the games with the actual prospect of winning on the horizon, Katniss is faced with the question of her identity, closely followed by the question of her purpose. Identity and purpose—those are two big questions for anyone. Before now Katniss had always been identified by circumstances. She was a hunter and provider, a daughter and a sister. Her purpose was defined by her abilities and by circumstances—she could provide for her family.
If she won the games, everything would change. Her family would never want for anything again, and Katniss wouldn’t be needed as a provider anymore. In other words, she would have lost her purpose. What would her purpose be if all her needs (and her family’s needs) were met?
We will leave that question open ended for now (the answer doesn’t come until later in the series), but the point for today isn’t how Katniss answered her own question, it’s how we answer that question for ourselves.
Who are we? What is our purpose? Or more importantly, what is it that defines who we are and what our purpose is? That is really the most important question. I dare say most of us are like Katniss. For most of us, circumstances define our identity and our purpose. We are sons or daughters in school—those are our circumstances. Our purpose therefore becomes to get good grades to make our parents and teachers proud (or to get into the next level of school, or to get a job, etc.). We are parents and our lives are defined by and given purpose by our children. We are someone’s girl or boyfriend (or spouse) and our life’s goal becomes defined by them. Our identity is wrapped up in being “theirs.” We are an employee and the job gives us purpose and identity. Whatever the case may be, it’s easy to find your identity and your purpose in your circumstances.
The problem with this is that circumstances change. If you define yourself by your circumstances, then you will inevitably at some point be in Katniss’ shoes. You’ll find yourself in some quiet moment wondering as she did, who you are and what you’ll do. You’ll realize that you don’t know who you are without that thing or that person in your life—that thing or that person who had defined you.
The only way to avoid this is to find your identity and purpose in something bigger than circumstances, something wholly beyond circumstances. That way, when circumstances change, you still know who you are. Your identity hasn’t changed. Just as your job may change, the things you have to do may change, but your purpose can remain in tact, giving you stability and coloring how you do the things you do—if your purpose is something greater than your circumstances.
Before I tell you how you can find something that is beyond circumstances which will give you identity and purpose, I want to illustrate what I’m saying. Let’s say you are an artist. You may prefer to use oils to paint you art. Oils may be the best “circumstances” for your art. If you define yourself as an oil painter, then the moment those oil paints are unavailable, you will have to redefine who you are. If, however, you see yourself as an artist whose purpose is to bring beauty into the world through whatever means available, then a change in circumstances doesn’t change your identity or your purpose. So you have no oils? That’s OK; you can use pastels. Or if there’s no canvas, you can use photography or recycled trash. A true artist could make beauty out of any medium if they set their mind to it. In fact, that same artist, if they couldn’t create art itself, could simply set about to help others see the beauty that is already around them and still fulfill their life’s purpose.
For those of us who know Jesus, we are given an identity and a purpose that is unchanging and wholly beyond all circumstances. We are sons and daughters of the King of Kings, heirs with Christ. Our identity is in Christ. This is OK because He is eternal and unchanging. If we find our identity in Christ, we will never find ourselves needing to reevaluate our identity. Our purpose as Christians is to bring glory to God. How we do that may change based on our circumstances, but that we do that will never change.
Like our artist, the medium may change, but our purpose does not. Are you a student? Study to the glory of God. Are you a wife or a husband? Love to the glory of God. Are you a parent? Raise your child to the glory of God. Are you an employee? Work to the glory of God.
Questions for Discussion:
- What circumstances have (or do) define you, your purpose, your identity?
- Have you been in Katniss’ shoes—wondering who you are and what you’ll do now that circumstances have changed?
- How would your life be different if your identity was only found in Christ—in being a co-heir of the King of Kings with Him?
- What would you say your purpose is right now in your life?
- How would it change your life if you did all things to the glory of God?
-By Stacey Tuttle-
Click here to see all the Hunger Games inspired Devotions.
Click here to see a compilation of quotes from the Hunger Games.