Identity in Creation

Identity in Creation

The Rev. Dr. Dennis Di Mauro

NALS Regent
Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church (Warrenton, VA)

Dennis Di Mauro

Can a ukulele create an identity? Lately I have become known as the “ukulele pastor.” I play ukulele in Sunday worship, at nursing homes, and at our local senior center. I even post songs on Facebook Live in what I call “ukulele lunchbreaks.” If you ask to become my friend, you can see me singing “Let My Love Open the Door” by Pete Townsend (one of my better ones)1 and many other old hits. And so, when I go to our NALC convocations and pastors’ conferences all anyone wants to talk to me about is the ukulele—which I don’t mind at all. I am quite happy that the ukulele has become my identity.

But then I got to thinking, what happens if for some reason I lose the ability to play ukulele? What if one day I am unable to use my hands, or can no longer sing? By human standards, that would mean I have no talent which makes me special. Where then would I find my true identity?

Now this isn’t just a problem for me. No, it’s a serious problem today for many young people and even some of our older people as well. They look at themselves in secular terms and they don’t see too much that is distinctive about themselves. Maybe they don’t think they are that popular or especially good-looking. Maybe their grades aren’t the best or they don’t stand out on the playing field. And to make things worse, maybe their loved ones have shared some of these suspicions with them, and perhaps they’ve been told that they just don’t measure up. This realization can cause depression and anxiety in an individual, bringing him/her to despair, or perhaps even drive that person to fill this identity void with politics, alcohol, or drugs. In some case, it may even cause someone to find his/her identity in conforming to superficial gender stereotypes or to arrive at a sense that one’s biological sex does not correlate with his/her gender experience.

But what if identity wasn’t tied up in some personal superlative that makes a person seem better than others? What if we have this backwardswhat if our identity is instead a gift from God?

To discover this truth, we must go all the way back to the first chapter of Genesis. Here we discover that our identity doesn’t come from our talents, but from our creation in “the image of God” (imago Dei). What is interesting is that the first five days of creation all begin with the phrase “And (or then) God said.” But on the sixth day, God pausessome translations even note that we move into poetry as the text states, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (1:27). John Paul II notes that, “in the cycle of the seven days of creation, a precise step-by step progression is evident; man, by contrast, is not created according to a natural succession, but the Creator seems to halt before calling [Adam] to existence, as if he entered back into himself to make a decision.”2 So the creation of the first man, and by extension all of us, was not a mistake—it was pondered among the persons of the Trinity. It was an intentional choice to create humanity in God’s likeness. And that makes us different from any of His other creations. The late pope notes that this verse adds “an affirmation of the absolute impossibility of reducing man to the ‘world.’”

But there’s more! Because in the second creation narrative (2:7), God breathes into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, a beautiful portrayal of the love He has for each of us and the intimacy He desires in our relationships with Him. So perhaps we need to stop looking at ourselves or other people for our identities and instead we need to start looking up! Up to a loving, intimate God who created us with infinite worth.

Now things went awry with the apple incident, I admit. But it’s important to understand that our sin does not remove the God-given identity and love He placed upon all of us. I mean, if our existence in the likeness of God doesn’t provide a compelling identity for us, then I don’t know what does!

  1. If you don’t have Facebook, you can check this one out on YouTube at

  2. John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, trans. by Michael Waldstein (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2006), 135.