Does our Identity really matter?

January 25, 2022

Flying to Hawaii has become a whole new form of torture during COVID. Our family recently took a trip to the Big Island for some much needed down-time together. We had scheduled it for 2020, but it had been delayed- like so many other folks trips- till 2021, so were were very ready to go! All of us (eight family members spread across four generations) were looking forward to gorgeous beaches, snorkeling, turtles, balmy weather and an escape from California lockdowns. But to reach that blissful setting, we had to run the gauntlet of Hawaii's strict and (dare we say overly-cautious) rules. At the time, every passenger had to take a COVID test 72 hours prior to departure from one of a select, few, pre-approved providers . This was to prove to the Hawaiian heath authorities that guests visiting the islands didn't have COVID-19. We were OK with that. Makes sense right?!

The torture began, however, when the approved health providers informed us that they could not guarantee the test results would be available before our departure times. Then our airlines let us know that if we did not have the negative test QR codes uploaded to their website before departure, they would not issue us the ID bracelets needed to avoid another COVID test- and possible quarantine- upon arrival in Hawaii. AND finally the Hawaiian health authorities told us that if we took a COVID test at their airport and it proved positive we would be quarantined for the entire length of our stay- but not in our already reserved beautiful resort condo- rather we would be put into a location of their designation at our expense.

So what are the actual odds of that happening? Well, in fact, this proved very nearly the case with my mom, who at 91 years old was the great-grandmother on our trip. Her test results were delayed! In fact, I received them on my phone just a few hours before our early morning flight out of San Diego. We decided to get to the airport extra early to make sure we could confirm her information with the airline. But, everyone else had the same idea! The check-in lines were packed and the progress was slow.

When we finally reached the curbside airline counter to check the bags the agent was unable to read her QR code (even though I provided both the digital and printed copy!). After repeated attempts and with our flight scheduled to leave in 50 minutes we were asked to re-check her code at the gate- after going through security. Of course, TSA selected my wheelchair bound mom to be body searched on our way through, and we finally reached the gate 10 minutes before our flight. With sweat trickling down my forehead and soaking through the back of my Hawaiian shirt collar, I handed my mom's printed QR code to the agent only to find she too was unable to read them.

Now, with minutes to go before our flight began boarding, we were suddenly faced with a nerve-wracking choice: 1) we could all go to Hawaii without great-grandma (Yes, I know that was a totally unacceptable choice), 2) we could all stay home together and just forfeit the long-awaited vacation (not something any of us wanted to do), or 3) we could all go and just hope that the Hawaii COVID test she would take upon arrival would not have produce a false-positive result, putting her into quarantine and the rest of us into our condo.

It was at this moment that I grasped just how important our personal identity is! Our airlines and the state of Hawaii were unable to recognize her identity as a non-positive COVID individual, and this lack of identification was putting the entire vacation- let alone our sanity- at risk!

While that failure to identify my mom was traumatic, we have the same problem in our culture today, but on an even more monumental scale. We see this struggle as our nation wrestles with identity politics. We observe it in how we label ourselves using race, sexuality, and even vaccination status. We face it in our concern about identity theft when our banking, educational, and health care systems require us to change our passwords frequently and use screened credentials to prove who we are.

Why is knowing who we are so difficult for us? And why is that so important?

I believe it is difficult for us because we have forgotten our origins. And it is important for us because without a clear grasp of who we are, we will find it impossible to be who we should be!

We have forgotten our past connections! Back in 1987 in the Journal "Nature" a group of genet­icists published a remarkable study.­ They­ studied the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 147 people from all of the major racial groups available today. According to (

"These researchers found that the lineage of all people alive today falls on one of two branches in humanity's family tree...Even more impressive, the geneticists concluded that every person on Earth right now can trace his or her lineage back to a single common female ancestor...The scientists named this common female ancestor Mitochondrial Eve."

If true, this is earth-shaking! Then add to this the perspective of the number one bestseller of all time (Yes, the Bible is still at the top of the "most purchased book" list both globally and historically) and we find an even more detailed account of our identity. In its very first chapter we hear the words "Then God said, "let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness…so God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them- male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:26-27)

According to God, we-- all of us-- are made in His image. We are in his likeness. That is in some way- while not being gods ourselves- we are still very much like Him. We are in some way a thumbnail sketch of him, a doppleganger, a replica or representation of him! How amazing is that! If this is true (and God says it is) it is earth-shattering!

As human beings made to be like God we all have intellect and creativity. We can all appreciate beauty. We all are related. We are triune beings- body, soul and spirit. We all have a moral awareness and responsibility….and much much more that we don't have time to rehearse.

This becomes critically important, especially with regard to our personal growth, in that we are capable of being much more than we are now. God has made us like himself and we have a greater potential waiting to be discovered and developed. We have a greater calling and destiny than we can imagine now. We are made to be unified - as God is unified- and to act in a manner that reflects his character and values.

And that is where we at Living My Potential love to start- with this realization and along this route. We assist people to discover their God-given potential as special creations of His. And what a difference our origin and its outcomes can make for us!

Oh, and by the way…just to finish the story…as we stood at that airline gate agonizing over what to do in those final moments…the thought came to mind (God inspired? Undoubtedly!) of using my laptop to go online to my mom's approved COVID health care provider's website and display her negative COVID test to the airlines agent. The agent took one look at the actual test and agreed to approve my mom for the flight!! Her non-positive COVID identity was clearly determined and we had a great time as a family- made in God's image- in one of God's most beautiful creations!

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